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Announcing the Second Impact Lab on Driving Equity in Education

By Amy Guterman February 23, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce that the second Impact Lab will focus on driving equity in education. This Impact Lab will specifically support Black and Latinx learners who are first in their family to go to college, over the age of 24, working full-time while attending school, or have dependents as they get to and through their first year of post-secondary education. The U.S. Department of Education refers to these students as “nontraditional” learners. 

Building on the momentum from our inaugural Impact Lab, which just launched a new app to help combat homelessness, this new Impact Lab will bring together subject matter experts from across sectors to advance equity in post-secondary education.

As a collaborative initiative aimed at developing innovative technology solutions that address complex social issues, Impact Labs combines the expertise of leaders from the nonprofit and education sectors with the power of Salesforce technology and pro bono talent. In taking risks, thinking outside the box, and designing creative solutions, Impact Labs aims to address some of the world’s greatest needs.

Screenshot of a virtual meeting

Our second cohort of Impact Labs Community Fellows will focus on driving equity in education.

What Topic Will This Impact Lab Address?

This Impact Lab aims to co-create a technology solution to support Black and Latinx learners with “nontraditional” attributes, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, as they navigate post-secondary education and move into the workforce. Nontraditional characteristics include those who are financially independent from their parents, have a child or other dependent, are a single caregiver, lack a traditional high school diploma, delay postsecondary enrollment, and attend school part time while employed full time. While these characteristics are defined as nontraditional, they actually account for the majority of student experiences in postsecondary education. One study found that 74% of all 2011–12 undergraduates had at least one nontraditional characteristic.

For this Impact Lab, our focus is on creating a solution that helps foster supportive and inclusive experiences for students getting to and through their first year of postsecondary education, and equipping them with the tools to thrive in the future.

Research shows tremendous disparities in educational attainment in the United States, with underrepresented and low-income students experiencing higher college dropouts rates and longer timeframes to complete their degrees on average. Only about a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will complete a bachelor’s degree by age 24, compared to almost 90% of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile. 

Furthermore, 56% of Hispanic and 46% of Black students finish a four-year degree within six years, compared to 72% of white students. Among students who for the first time entered college in fall 2017, Black students had the lowest persistence rate (66.2%): just over half of Black students returned to the starting institution (52.1%).

While technology alone is not enough to address inequities in educational attainment and improve attrition in higher ed among low-income and underrepresented students, this lab aims to create a solution that contributes to more supportive and equitable higher education experiences for learners from marginalized groups to improve these outcomes.

Why is Impact Labs Focusing on This Issue Now?

We’re committed to opening the doors of opportunity so that everyone has equal access to a quality education, meaningful career, and prosperous future. This vision isn’t ours alone. 

Over the past year, we’ve been listening to our community of nonprofits and schools about the greatest challenges facing them today. After receiving more than 500 responses to our call for proposals for challenges for Impact Labs to tackle, advancing equity in education was at the top of the list — a topic that is in direct alignment with our Salesforce values. 

As inequalities have grown during the global pandemic and new challenges have emerged for schools to equitably and holistically support their students, we feel a sense of urgency to act. By focusing specifically on the experience of first-year students, we’re concentrating our efforts on a high-impact way to help marginalized learners achieve their goals.

We’re thrilled to welcome our second group of Impact Labs Community Fellows. This cohort, which represents a range of impressive and diverse institutions — HBCUs, community colleges, research institutions, nonprofit organizations, and technology experts — will help us ideate and develop high-impact and scalable solutions. 

Meet our Impact Labs Fellows:

Austin Buchan, CEO of College Forward.    College Forward logo
Austin Buchan
CEO, College Forward

Austin serves as the CEO of College Forward, a Texas-based nonprofit that provides high-touch, high-tech services to first-generation, low-income students. Under Austin’s leadership, College Forward developed a best-in-class student database and mobile app built entirely on the Salesforce platform and distributed through the Salesforce AppExchange, enabling our impact to reach over a million students by 2023.

Dr. Beatriz Joseph, Vice Chancellor of Student Success, Dallas College    Dallas College logo
Dr. Beatriz Joseph
Vice Chancellor of Student Success, Dallas College

Beatriz is the Vice Chancellor of Student Success for Dallas College. She has most recently served as the 10th president of Mountain View College. With more than 25 years of higher education experience, her role as a champion for accessible and affordable education for a diverse student population is unparalleled.


Derick Hutchinson, Senior Manager of College Readiness, Houston ISD   Houston Independent School District logo
Derick Hutchinson
Senior Manager of College Readiness, Houston ISD

As a first generation-college student, Derick faced many challenges navigating from high school to community college and ultimately earning a Master’s Degree in Counseling. His career focus has been helping others with a focus on College and Career Readiness. Derick’s vision has been to support the under-resourced advisors and counselors to have better tools to meet the needs of all students in their post-secondary endeavors.

Diana Peacock, Director of Nonprofit and Education, Coastal Cloud  Coastal Cloud logo
Diana Peacock

Director of Nonprofit and Education, Coastal Cloud

Diana is a consulting professional with 20+ years of experience in systems integration and strategy engagements. As a passionate mission-driven executive, she works with entrepreneurial organizations to harness the power of strategy, partnerships, systems, and talent for social change. For the past 20 years across industries and sectors, her work has focused on the nexus of purpose and people to positively impact communities.

Dominique Raymond, Strategy Director for Partnerships at the Lumina Foundation    Lumina Foundation logo
Dominique Raymond
Strategy Director for Partnerships, Lumina Foundation

Domy Raymond is Lumina’s strategy director for partnerships, part of the Human Network Design team. She advises Lumina’s president on thought leadership opportunities and directs emerging initiatives for his office. She has over 20 years of policy experience in higher education, state policy, equity in education and workforce development.

Doneisha Posey, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging at Ivy Tech Community College   Ivy Tech Community College logo
Doneisha Posey

Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, Ivy Tech Community College

Doneisha Posey is a civil rights attorney and diversity thought leader. She is regularly consulted on matters of diversity in higher education, civil rights, housing discrimination, race and the law, and leadership. Doneisha was born and raised in Indianapolis and received her BA from Marian University and her J.D. from IU McKinney School of Law where she is also an adjunct professor.

Eric Waldo, Chief Access & Equity Programs Officer at Common App    Common App logo
Eric Waldo
Chief Access & Equity Programs Officer, Common App

Eric is a Jewish-Puerto Rican from Alabama who grew up in Cleveland. He’s been in D.C. for over 12 years sitting at the intersection of education, politics, and technology. Today, he helps lead Mrs. Obama’s legacy college access initiative out of the Common App, where his team aims to help all students access, afford, and attain a higher education.

Gene Wade, CEO of Honors Pathway    Honors Pathway logo
Gene Wade
CEO, Honors Pathway

Gene is CEO of Honors Pathway, an organization that partners with non-profit colleges and universities and public high schools to operate MicroCollege pathway programs. MicroCollege enables low-income, recent high school graduates who are college-bound but not-yet college-ready, to attend up to two years of college classes at no cost while receiving several hundred hours of intensive academic support each year. 

Dr. Glenda Evans, Assistant Professor & Chair of the Department of Business Administration at Hampton University   Hampton University logo
Dr. Glenda Evans
Assistant Professor & Chair of the Department of Business Administration, Hampton University

Glenda serves as Chair of the Department of Business Administration in the School of Business at Hampton University. She’s been at Hampton University for seven years following a career as an accountant for 15 years prior. She’s served in the public, private, and government sectors.

Dr. Jennifer Engle, Deputy Director of Data at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation logo
Dr. Jennifer Engle
Deputy Director of Data, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Jennifer Engle, deputy director of Data in the United States Program, leads the foundation’s team responsible for improving the quality and use of data across the education to workforce pipeline. This work aims to empower practitioners and policymakers with the critical information they need to implement evidence-based reforms to equitably improve educational outcomes.

Kenny Gonzalez, Career Counselor at Skyline College    Skyline College logo
Kenny Gonzalez
Career Counselor, Skyline College

Kenny created a Career by Design model, mashing Design Thinking and Career Exploration. He has over two decades working in higher education, and his strengths include counseling, teaching, group facilitation, communication skills, student equity, and motivation.

Kinnis Gosha, Division Chair for Experiential Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies at Morehouse College.   Morehouse College logo
Kinnis Gosha
Division Chair for Experiential Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies, Morehouse College

Kinnis serves as the Hortenius I. Chenault Division Chair for Experiential Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies at Morehouse College. There, he works with external partners to develop innovative, interdisciplinary, and exploratory learning experience for the school’s undergraduate student population of primarily Black males.

Mark Bazin, Chief Technology Officer at the Cristo Rey Network  Cristo Rey Network logo
Mark Bazin
Chief Technology Officer, Cristo Rey Network

Twelve years ago, Mark left his job in computer security and forensics at Ernst & Young in Chicago and moved back home to Texas to help start Cristo Rey Jesuit in the southeast side of Houston. The school was a great success and in 2015, he returned to Chicago to serve as the Chief Technology Officer for the larger Cristo Rey Network of schools. 

Patty Diaz-Andrade, Chief Impact Officer at OneGoal    OneGoal logo
Patty Diaz-Andrade
Chief Impact Officer, OneGoal

As Chief Impact Officer, Patty leads a team focused on achieving impact at scale. The team has leveraged a user-centered design and lean impact methodology to dramatically change how student- and teacher-facing content/training are delivered to OneGoal partners nationally. OneGoal’s aim is to ensure that any young person has access to high-quality post-secondary advising through their program offerings.

Tiffany Spencer, COO at Esor Consulting Group and HBCUForce.   ESOR Consulting Group logo
Tiffany Spencer
COO, Esor Consulting Group and HBCUForce

Tiffany is a Salesforce MVP, Community Group Leader, and 7x certified Salesforce professional, with over 12 years of experience leading digital transformations utilizing the Salesforce platform. She is co-founder and COO of Esor Consulting group. She is also the founder of HBCUforce, a nonprofit organization that partners with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions and organizations to implement programs that provide early access to cloud computing careers.

Learn more about Service Match — the open-source app designed by the first Impact Labs cohort to combat homelessness by streamlining the service referrals process.

Interested in being part of a future Impact Lab? Submit a social issue for consideration. We review these on an ongoing basis to ensure we have a good understanding of the most relevant social challenges affecting the community.

About the Author

Amy Guterman, Director for Impact Labs
Amy Guterman
Director for Impact Labs
Amy believes in the power of human-centered design and technology to create positive change in the world. Her career has centered on using design thinking for social impact, tackling challenges that range from reducing violence in Chicago to improving health information systems in low to moderate income countries. Her work has been featured in publications such as FastCo, Wired, and Design Observer and recognized internationally by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.