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The Challenge We Face

College degrees are increasingly needed to thrive. Low-income students are being left out.

This opportunity gap is compromising their futures — and ours.

Only 22% of low-income students earn four-year degrees by age 26. This pales in comparison to 67% of high-income students.

This Education Inequity Urgently Threatens Our Nation

70% of jobs

require a postsecondary college degree.

18% drop in Black student enrollment

in community colleges has been a consequence of the pandemic.

$1.2 trillion loss

is the estimated negative economic impact of an expected 11MM shortage of college-educated workers by 2029.

For the individual, the education gap underlies inequities in work, housing, health, and even length of life.

peerforward peer leader in harvard shirt making her way on college campus

Those with bachelors degrees can earn an average of $1 million more in a lifetime.

Those with bachelors degrees can earn an average of
$1 million more in a lifetime.

Degree holders are more likely to become and stay employed, to have access to health care, to live longer, to participate civically in their community, and to prepare their own children for higher education.

A college degree creates generational momentum, which has been historically harder for low-income students due to systemic roadblocks. These underserved youth comprise most of college’s “first generation” attendees.

peerforward volunteer in map

Underfunded, crowded public high schools struggle to guide students to postsecondary opportunities.

Underfunded, crowded public high schools
struggle to guide students to postsecondary opportunities.

There are a staggering 408 students for every 1 counselor in public high schools in low-income areas — nearly double the recommended 250:1 ratio.

These overtaxed counselors are able to give just 38 minutes of college guidance to each student on average. Many of these students’ parents don’t know how to navigate college enrollment and seeking financial aid. The system is not straightforward, and many low-income students are left behind without key guidance and individual attention.

student peer leader leads at podium

Our Solution

We Train Influential Students with the Knowledge to Lead their Peers to and through Higher Education and the Skills to Drive Community-wide Change.

In high schools, the PeerForward creates a corps of young students to augment the guidance available in their high schools and use their influence to help friends and peers believe they belong in higher education.

In colleges, Peer Leaders ensure students – many who are first -gen or from low-income communities – connect to available resources, secure financial aid, and engage with the campus community and resources.  

After all, one of the best predictors of whether a young person will go to college and graduate is whether they have friends doing the same thing. It turns out that the most influential person in a student’s life often is a classmate or friend.

Discover Our Programs

Discover Our Impact

peerforward students are awesome! Big group photo

“PeerForward showed me that there is always opportunity all around me so anything I want to do is always possible. I used to limit my dreams because I knew I didn’t have the money or didn’t know where to start and they showed me that I have a network of people willing to help me do whatever it is that I aspire to do.”

— Zipporah Sewell, High School Class of 2019, Robert Morris University Class of 2023

Get Involved


Help us bring more resources to students in need.


Join our movement and make a direct impact on the lives of our youth.

Become a PeerForward School

Collaborate with us to foster a culture of postsecondary success at your high school or college.

Partner With Us

Connect with us to see how our mission aligns with yours.