Oregon, especially rural Oregon, is facing a crisis in college access and success. Research has shown that college student coaches have a strong impact on younger students’ aspirational goal of attaining post-secondary education. However, transportation time and costs are barriers to getting college students to rural settings. In 2012, Oregon State University Precollege Programs came up with the idea to connect OSU college student coaches to economically disadvantaged and underserved K-12 classrooms, using videoconferencing software. The college students would meet with their classrooms twice a month for one hour, and provide college-themed programming. It proved to be highly effective for both the students and the college coaches.
In 2014, Precollege Programs received a grant that provided the office with an AmeriCorps member (College Access Corps Coordinator) to expand the program. During the 2014-2015 school year Beaver Hangouts had 20 OSU student volunteers known as College Access Coaches) who served over 400 students in 10 Oregon public schools. In the 2015-2016 academic year, 2 AmeriCorps members served to increase Beaver Hangouts' reach to 750 students in 50 classrooms with the help of 50 Coaches. The 2016-2017 Coordinators recruited 78 Coaches to serve 1350 students in 65 classrooms across the state.
Our mission at Beaver Hangouts is to promote and cultivate college awareness and identity in youth, and provide all K-12 students in Oregon equitable college access and readiness through the use of technology.
We serve a variety of K-12 schools and programs all over Oregon. Our main focus is rural and underrepresented populations. Over 50% of the students in the schools we currently work with qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program.