Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign and Hustle partner together to support college access — one text message at a time!

How do you reach Generation Z? On their mobile phones.

Today Hustle is proud to announce our partnership with Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign to expand college access through a texting program called Up Next. The Up Next program, which Former First Lady Michelle Obama lifted up via Twitter last week, seeks to provide students and families across the country with personalized texting reminders, encouragement, and connections to assistance with education and civic engagement.
Statistics show that students who are most likely to graduate from college come from affluent backgrounds where at least one parent has attended and received their degree from a four-year university. In fact, students that have a parent who has attended college are 15% more likely to also attend and graduate from a four-year university. And while the reasons for this are not simple, some of the influencing factors can be attributed to the amount of support and preparation students receive before and during their time in college. Support that enables them to navigate difficult deadlines, complete complex applications for financial grants and college admissions, as well as discover resources on campus that can help them feel welcomed and make their college experience that much more enjoyable. 
Often times students heavily depend on their immediate family members, friends, and school resources to help them get through a process that is quite foreign to them. And without those means of support, students’ chances of getting to and through college decrease significantly. However, Former First Lady, Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign is working very hard to make sure that college is accessible to everyone, with one text message at a time. 
The Better Make Room program connects high school seniors and current college students with peer counselors and college coaches across the nation via one-to-one text messaging. These college coaches and peer counselors send out reminders about upcoming deadlines such as FAFSA and college applications. They offer guidance for students that are having difficulties with current courses, housing, and more. They also connect students with resources on campus, and serve as a support system throughout the college application process and beyond. Powered by Hustle, a one-to-one text messaging platform that scales and humanizes the way that organizations communicate with people, the Better Make Room program is able to build genuine relationships with Generation Z as they navigate their time to and through college.
 “College access and affordability is an issue that is very important to myself and the Hustle team,” said Roddy Lindsay, Hustle’s Co-Founder and CEO. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Better Make Room and Former First Lady Michelle Obama on this important program that will humanize the college application process by providing real-time peer counselors for students, just a text message away.

Better Make Room peer counselors using Hustle to text current college students!

Imagine a world, where a low-income, first generation college student in Milwaukee, that attends a high school where there is one counselor to every 500 students and support is quite minimal, is able to text a college peer counselor as they have questions about the college application process. Imagine that this text message connects them with a counselor who can help them edit the final paragraph in their admissions essay. And imagine the difference that this could make in their succession of getting into the college of their dreams. That is what Hustle’s partnership with the Better Make Room Program is helping make possible.
Michelle Obama and the Better Make Room program know the importance of a college education and the importance of reaching students where they are, on their phones, to celebrate and support them through their educational journeys “We want young people to know that there is nothing more important than getting your education. We need to make going to college the event that we make so many other things. It’s gotta be more important than going to the NBA, said Former First Lady Michelle Obama speaking on May 5, 2017 at Better Make Room’s College Signing Day celebration. “It’s got to be more exciting than getting a recording contract. We gotta celebrate students going to college bigger than we celebrate the Final Four or the Super Bowl. This is important.”

It’s the encouraging and supportive conversations, at scale that make an impact with students across the United States. Having launched their text messaging campaigns just last week, the Better Make Room Program has provided support to 28,260 incoming and current college students across the nation. And because they are reaching students in the medium that they prefer, which is on their phone via text message, they’ve been able to reach engagement rates as high as 30%. That’s over 8,000 back and forth conversations happening with students all across America, helping to make college that much more accessible.

And it’s the one-to-one personalized communication that really supports the unique needs of each student. The students participating in the program, want to engage in a very authentic way that allows for them to ask open-ended questions that a knowledgeable peer counselor can help with in ways that programmed chat bots or blast text messaging isn’t able to do. When students are asking questions about forming study groups or what type of books they should be reading prior to their first day of class it takes real human knowledge to address these concerns, rather than artificial intelligence or YES/NO robot-like replies.

Hustle conversation between Better Make Room college coach and current college student

With the power of Hustle, Better Make Room is achieving their goal of creating a space for all the great things that this current and upcoming college cohort will do next, “Better Make Room is here to cheer [students] on, help [them] out, and connect [them] to others sharing the journey” And at Hustle, we’re so proud to be the platform that Better Make Room has trusted to make these connections, conversations, and encouragement happen.