Impact at Scale Profile: Austin Buchan of College Forward

The Impact at Scale Profile Series brought to you by Philanthropitch spotlights finalist alumni from Philanthropitch. Every month we profile different finalists and how they are expanding their impact and scaling the programs they pitched at Philanthropitch.

Austin Buchan is the CEO at College Forward, a nonprofit whose intensive, culturally-appropriate mentoring programs propel students from underserved backgrounds to collegiate success and remunerative careers. They collaborate with respected practitioners to distill best practices into high-efficient program models, supported by a technology platform. Austin presented at this past Philanthropitch Austin as part of his second year participating in Philanthropitch.

It’s amazing that just 3 months have passed since Philanthropitch Austin. Our finalists have been hard at work expanding their impact and scaling the programs they pitched on May 8th. We recently caught up with some of our Austin alumni to see just how impactful the Philanthropitch experience has been for their organizations. Here we chat with Austin Buchan of College Forward.

1. What are some of the opportunities that came out of your Philanthropitch Austin experience.

College Forward’s Philanthropitch Austin experience allowed us to prepare and formalize a pitch around our organization’s business initiative, CoPilot, which is a customizable student information database and technology platform created in-house and licensed out to college success organizations serving students across the country. The opportunity to educate and inform audience members and judges in Philanthropitch Austin was helpful in that generated interest in our student-facing mobile application and our CoPilot initiative. Additionally, we were able to leverage our formalized narrative and budget submitted with the Philanthropitch application to gain a separate, sizable private philanthropic funding investment to support College Forward’s efforts to scale student impact by enhancing CoPilot with a revolutionary mobile application, development and integration of content and curriculum including intelligent analytics solutions, and virtual coaching support services.

2. How has Philanthropitch helped your organization scale? Please include metrics when possible.

College Forward’s experience with Philanthropitch has propelled our capacity to implement a long-term marketing and sales strategy. We are looking forward to installing a marketing manager to explore and expand current and new markets and 5 sales positions to generate at least 12 new partnerships each per year. Investing in five new sales positions will translate into triple the amount of net new revenue for College Forward. At the moment, we have hired another staff member (Partner Experience Manager) to help our CoPilot team implement the backlog of partnerships in our sales pipeline. Additionally, we are also currently interviewing and hiring a Technical Manager to support product development and explore student-facing solutions. This will help CoPilot remain on the leading edge of tracking and measuring student interventions. It will also provide expertise as we develop additional analytics and eventually integrate Artificial Intelligence prediction tools. We are also exploring further expansion into the K-12 market. CoPilot’s partners have historically been in the College Access and Success space, but we are launching with the largest district in the state’s College and Career Readiness department in Fall 2018.

3. What is next for your organization in your effort to build a scalable, sustainable nonprofit?

College Forward will continue to build out our CoPilot sales and marketing infrastructure to enable our organization to reach more and more underserved students with postsecondary ambitions. CoPilot is serving as a powerful tool for College Forward to sustainably impact 1 million students across the nation. In this way, every dollar that College Forward’s CoPilot brings in to the organization is thoughtfully leveraged towards increasing our organizational impact. Our efforts with CoPilot are also contributing to our democratization of access to best-in-class technology for college success organization struggling with data and program impact tracking solutions.

Philanthropitch is going to Columbus, Ohio March 4, 2019. Presented by Kiwanis Club of Columbus and co-hosted by SocialVentures, the first annual Philanthropitch Columbus will showcase a high-impact group of innovative nonprofits within the local community. The application period will be opening later this year, a new set of successful entrepreneur judges, and nonprofits with an impact-based model.

Briana Loeb