2020 Grants Challenge


CostsBeyondTuition.org will use the LA2050 grant for two purposes: a) Matching Grant (50%) - In order to drive micro philanthropists and incentivize them to submit donations to our college students, we will use 50% of the grant as a matching donation, courtesy of LA2050. This part of the grant is restricted to Program Services. b) Operating Expenses (50%) - As we scale the organization, we will enhance the website, fulfillment model, and our marketing efforts. Half of the grant will be allocated as unrestricted funds to scale the organization.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g, using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

What is the need you’re responding to?

Sixteen years after graduating with an Associates degree, I decided to finish my BS degree. At school, I met a young student: Leslie. One day, I asked Leslie about the online homework. She said she hadn’t done it because she couldn’t afford the $98 fee to access the portal. In disbelief, I realized that college students continue to struggle to cover costs beyond tuition just like I once did. I thought to myself how to help Leslie without giving her any money. I decided to create an organization that helps college students by supplying them with the specific items they need. In less than a week, Leslie received 7 items she requested, thanks to 5 generous donors. This immediate success led me to believe in this unique platform and the impact it will have on college students. To ensure integrity, our team will vet requests, purchase items, and ship them directly to students. College students will have a simple way to get resources and donors can trust donations will be used as intended.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

I am uniquely suited for this organization for the following reasons: I too struggled during college. Most of the time I only had $5 (or less) to eat during school, and in many cases I was not able to purchase books because they were beyond my budget. I have a personal connection to CostsBeyondTuition,org because I see myself in the students’ stories. CostsBeyondTuition.org is similar to DonorsChoose, a very successful nonprofit organization helping public school teachers get resources they need. DonorsChoose developed a fulfillment system that rivals Amazon’s by successfully delivering funded items directly to teachers. César Bocanegra spent 12 years as the COO of DonorsChoose and is now a Board Member of CostsBeyondTution.org. With his help and recommendations, I have been developing the logistical part of the organization to ensure CostsBeyondTuition.org becomes as successful as DonorsChoose.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 100

Indirect Impact: 500

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Our project will have a lasting impact on the most marginalized college students, who are often first-generation college students. The lasting impact of CostsBeyondTuition.org includes higher graduation rates amongst our low income students, thanks to the items and resources they will receive through us. This impact in turn will translate into financial stability and will encourage our college graduates to pay it forward and donate to future student generations. Our headquarters are in Los Angeles and we expect the majority of our students to be pursuing their education in the L.A. County which will have a positive impact on our local economy and the future of our city.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

At CostsBeyondTutition.org we will define and measure success by us achieving the following before June 30, 2021:

* 100 college students will have one or more of their requests funded.

* 500 individual micro philanthropists will have donated to one of our students.

* $50,000 in micro donations will have been raised.

* $100,000 in grants from foundations or corporations will be secured.

Our platform will be able to track all these metrics on a daily basis. And although these metrics will be easy to track and measure, we’re more excited about the stories that our students will provide to donors once they receive the resources/items they need. Our platform will capture thank-you messages from our students to our donors and make them visible to the public to reinforce the transparency and integrity of our model. Our vision is that the MY LA2050 grant will propel our organization and provide us with the right foundation to achieve our mission of closing the inequality gap and encourage college students that are struggling financially to continue pursuing their higher education.

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​

College graduates

College matriculation

Community college completion

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Host public events or gatherings

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation