PeopleGrove — unleashing the power of community and human connections.

By Adam Saven, CEO, PeopleGrove

My co-founder Reilly and I are fortunate. We have our problems, but they are Silicon Valley problems at best — South Bay traffic, long lines at Philz, etc.

We grew up in upper-middle class families. We graduated from top universities without the cruel and unusual punishment of student debt. For all of these things and more, we are beyond grateful, especially to our families ❤

Yet, we know that we are the lucky few, and this is not okay.

Total U.S. student loan debt exceeds $1.2 trillion. With less than rosy job prospects, this is terrifying.

Source: Wall Street Journal

For all of this and more, we want to pay it forward. We want to level the playing field.

You’ve likely heard the adage — “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know?”

While this is certainly a sweeping generalization, there is much truth to the idea. We see it in Silicon Valley’s insular hiring practices, causing a vicious cycle of workforce homogeneity. We see it on Wall Street where opportunities seem to be available only to those who went to the “right” schools.

The data offers further support:

  • Only 7% of applicants get an employee referral, yet referrals account for 40% of hires.
  • You are way more likely to get an interview for a job if you know someone at the company.
  • 80% of jobs are never advertised or posted but only found through networking.

There are certainly many different ways to attack this ubiquitous and devastating problem of: “How do you give everyone a shot and level the playing field?” We’re inspired by the initiatives and continued work of organizations utilizing technology to bring resources to those that once never had access, notably:

Learning Resources:

Financial Resources:

Technology Resources:

Our Approach — Human Resources

With our company PeopleGrove (formerly CampusKudos), we’re on a mission to unleash the power of community to give every student and professional the network needed to succeed.

We’re tapping one of the most highly underutilized resource out there: our collective willingness to help, pay it forward and give back.

Where we started — CampusKudos

Beginning this year, we initially focused on the problem within universities and schools. It’s a large problem too. According to a Gallup survey, only 29% of graduates feel that their college prepared them well for the working world.

Yet, the minority of graduates that did feel prepared are 6x more likely to be emotionally attached to their alma mater and 3x more likely to be engaged at work.

With this in mind, we began as CampusKudos — focused on helping schools better connect their communities and drive powerful networking and mentorship connections between students and alumni.

We had some early success too, bringing our platform to amazing schools like Stanford, MIT OEOP, USC, Michigan Ann-Arbor, Harvard Westlake and more. We have much left to do.

We’re hellbent on supporting not just elite schools but schools of all types.

Where we’re headed — PeopleGrove

We soon learned that what we’d developed had immense implications in the corporate world as well. Workplace surveys corroborated this fact. Employees stated that a primary reason for leaving a company or not being engaged in a role was simply a lack of personal support and mentorship.

Only 30% of Americans are engaged in their jobs. Gallup estimates that this costs our economy over $450BN in lost productivity and turnover. Yet again, mentorship programs double the odds that a graduate will be engaged at work.

So, our team wondered if we could make an impact not only during a young person’s student life but also after he or she graduates and begins their career.

The end result is an import name change to reflect our vision, mission and expanded goals.

Why PeopleGrove?

  • We want to live in a world where everyone is treated with respect — as people (not just employees)
  • Grove, quite literally a group of trees, represents a sacred place, all knowledge available past, present and future
  • We believe this transfer of knowledge is what mentorship and human connections are all about

What’s with the logo?

  • The outer circles represent the faces of people coming together in a circle
  • The negative space between the leaves are the excited and raised arms of an individual
  • The gradient of colors represent the power of a diverse group of people

What’s next and how can you help?

We want to be the ultimate community platform, bridging the gap between education and meaningful careers. We achieve this mission by building beautiful, engaging software to drive human connections for schools, companies, and other organizations.

Join us in our mission by sharing this post and helping us bring PeopleGrove to high schools, universities, companies and organizations all over the world.

**Special thanks to Steve Altman, Mudar Yaghi, DreamIt and Reach Capital for believing in us through the thick and thin.