What started as Claudia Saavedra’s (SPAA ’18) desire to increase college access for students has evolved into a momentum-building social venture for low-income and first-generation high school students to attain higher education.
With a fledgling app called Flair Now, Saavedra is launching a mobile space where students can receive personalized mentoring services that would offer guidance related to the college admissions process, including taking standardized tests, completing applications, and applying for scholarships.
“[The app] matches high school students with currently enrolled college students to facilitate the college process, and then these students will be matched with professionals within different industries to help them once they’re in college and prepare them for a career,” Saavedra said.
The idea for the app emerged from her personal experiences as the first in her family to attend college. Her parents emigrated from Chile when she was a child and while they encouraged her education, they were unable to help her navigate the application and enrollment process. She faced additional frustration when her high school guidance department discouraged her from pursuing college preparatory activities such as taking advanced placement courses.
Saavedra experienced a breakthrough when she attended a New York University summer program for high schoolers where she became a certified college access ambassador and began a crusade to remove barriers for students who faced similar challenges, hosting workshops to help them through the admissions process.
When she enrolled at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration in the dual BA/MPA program, her strong academic record earned her a full scholarship as a student in Rutgers University-Newark’s Honors Living-Learning Community. As a student, she interned with the Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions where she developed a College Access Leadership Institute that certifies Newark public school students as college access ambassadors who are then able to educate their peers about applying to college.
Realizing that she wanted to broaden the reach of her services, Saavedra began developing Flair Now, a project recently bolstered by her success in The Resolution Project’s Social Venture Challenge at Harvard University. After pitching her app, she received a Resolution Fellowship – a fellowship that supports sustainable, high-impact social initiatives.
“It’s an amazing opportunity! Being a Resolution Fellow allows me to gain $1500 in seed funding and provides me with advisors to help me develop my social venture and implement it into the communities to make the largest possible impact,” Saavedra said.
With two other fellowships – an Essentials Fellowship and Aspen Institute Fellowship – offering resources for her venture, Saavedra continues to expand her project and pursue new avenues of funding to move Flair Now from the pages of her proposal and onto the cell phones of underrepresented students interested in higher education.