Who is the Most Influential
Person in a 17-Year-Old’s Life?

PeerForward Mobilizes Students to Create a College-Going Culture

The PeerForward method guides more students to college by tapping a resource found in every single high school in the nation: influential students. It is informed and validated by research on the key actions essential for postsecondary degree attainment. PeerForward trains, deploys, and coaches a team of Peer Leaders who are charged with boosting college preparation and enrollment across their entire school. They mobilize friends and classmates to realize their true college and career potential.

Here’s How…

1. We Develop School Partnerships 

PeerForward partners with high schools and districts large and small, from Los Angeles to Maryland, New York to South Florida, to provide high schools the additional capacity needed to support all students on a path to college and career.

 2. We Identify and Recruit Peer Leaders 

PeerForward works with school partners to identify teams of student leaders – four 11th-graders and four 12th-graders – who are influential. They may not always be the top students academically or a star athlete – but their peers look to them and want to be like them. This team of Peer Leaders will lead the way.

 3. We Train and Inspire Peer Leaders 

Rising 12th-grade Peer Leaders and PeerForward Advisors are trained at transformational workshops held on college campuses. Students realize their talents, learn the ins-and-outs of the college admissions process, and master leadership skills and community organizing techniques. Newly inspired, confident, and knowledgeable, Peer Leaders are committed to guiding their classmates to higher education.

 4. Peer Leaders Run Schoolwide Campaigns 

After summer workshops, 12th-grade Peer Leaders return to their schools fired up to lead change. They train 11th-grade Peer Leaders on what they’ve learned and plan activities for the school year ahead. With the support of a PeerForward Advisor and PeerForward staff, this eight-student Peer Leader team executes three powerful campaigns to get their peers to college.

Three Key Actions That Drive Postsecondary Success

Peer Leader teams run three campaigns that independent, third-party research shows lead to an increase in college enrollment. By focusing on what matters most, PeerForward fosters the notion that pursuing education beyond high school is the expectation, not the exception.

Yes, simply applying to more colleges measurably increases the chances of enrollment. Increasing the number of college applications submitted from one to two can raise a student’s probability of enrollment by 40%. Submitting an additional application increases the probability another 10%. 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required for need-based financial assistance, yet 2.3 million eligible students never file. Students who file the FAFSA early can double the amount of grant funding awarded. And FAFSA filers have a 72% greater persistence rate in college than those who don’t.

Students whose parents didn’t go to college don’t connect academic decisions to specific life goals. Our career exploration initiative opens their eyes. Research shows that a student who makes a connection between college and life goals is six times more likely to attain a degree.

PeerForward’s Student-Driven Model Builds Capacity in Schools

Our proven tools and supports ensure Peer Leader teams are successful, increasing the college-counseling capacity of partner high schools with student leadership.

PeerForward Coach

This full-time PeerForward staff specialist trains and motivates PeerForward teams on student leadership to lead the campaigns by providing a steady stream of information and encouragement, conducting regular team huddles, and tracking team progress.


At the beginning of the school year, each PeerForward team receives a toolkit filled with materials to build awareness and drive actions for each campaign, including a variety of signaling materials, such as posters, banners, and pennants, which will be seen by the entire student body.


Each PeerForward team (students and Advisor) receives Playbooks at the start of the school year that offer step-by-step guidance on how to organize and execute successful campaigns, complete with sample events and activities, templates, and trackers.


PeerForward curates and maintains LinkForward, a one-stop destination for online tools and mobile apps that inform and coach students through the college application process. These web and mobile apps represent the best student-tested free, or near-free, college access technology supports. PeerForward also provides a digital curriculum with college access lesson plans for grades 9-12.

Jeremy Hames

Former Peer Leader at Herbert Hoover High School, Clendenin, WV Cadet, West Point Academy

“ I helped my classmates create ‘good fit’ college lists, file the FAFSA, complete applications, and made sure they know that regardless of where they come from, they are college material. If I can persuade more in my community to stay the course and to take the difficult, but possible, steps required to get into college, I will perform a service as valuable as the one I plan to give to my country.”

Cornelius Williams

Miami Northwestern Senior High School University of South Florida

It isn’t just about having a voice, you need to do something with it. It’s about touching other peoples’ lives and creating ripples of change. I’m living proof. Two years ago, I received my BA from the University of South Florida, where Ashley [the Peer Leader who convinced him to go to college] and I were roommates. Ashley was the drop of rain; I am the ripple of change.

Donna Dunson

Principal, Lake Wales High School Lake Wales, FL

“ I was impressed with PeerForward from the beginning. Their approach was a perfect fit for our work. They taught our team to drive the college push, and it was a major success in one year. Empowering the student is the key. I am grateful for the partnership with PeerForward; it is transformative. ”

Stay Connected

Get Updates!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Support students helping students get to college.

Give to PeerForward!