The Challenge

Design and scale a coaching model to help first-generation college students stay on track in spite of the many challenges they face.


Beyond 12 was named a finalist for the Robin Hood Foundation College Success Prize, securing funding to run a pilot with thousands of students in 2015.

The Outcome

MyCoach, an app that organizes important details, illuminates passion areas, and connects like-minded students to campus resources and each other.

For first-generation college students, navigating college can often feel like navigating a foreign country. Challenges like not having enough money or access to support services can make graduating an insurmountable hurdle. In fact, only 55 percent of American students end up completing their degrees. 

Beyond 12, an organization that provides personalized, virtual coaching to first-generation college students, partnered with IDEO to bring its already successful coaching service to scale. Together, the team designed the MyCoach app—available on the App Store and Google Play—to help these inspiring students thrive in college and beyond.

First-generation college students.

Beyond 12 Students

The app, designed for and with students, addresses three key issues: 

  • Helping students track and organize the many details of their enrollment and transition to college—like navigating financial aid deadlines and creating a monthly budget—by aggregating resources into one place and breaking down tasks into accessible steps
  • Personalizing the college experience to reflect students’ unique values through quizzes that uncover passion areas and strengths, creating opportunities for self-discovery along the way
  • Building a network of support by connecting students who are experiencing the same highs and lows. Students can share moments of inspiration and new discoveries, or just post tips for their community and receive support from experts, coaches, and other students, so they never feel alone.

Together, these features enable students to take ownership of their education and feel in control of their future. In early 2015, the prototype for the MyCoach app was named as a finalist in the prestigious Robin Hood Foundation College Success Prize, garnering funds for the launch of a pilot in the fall of 2015. MyCoach is being piloted with thousands of students at two CUNY colleges in New York and other selected partner schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. These learnings will enable Beyond 12 and IDEO to continue to iterate and evolve the app, in  hopes of creating a high-tech, high-touch model that helps students all across the country succeed and thrive in college and beyond.

To learn more about this project and how to work with IDEO, get in touch.