College Possible

Nonprofit Excellence Awards

Edie Turnbull
Edie Turnbull
Edie Turnbull

SMALL NONPROFIT OF THE YEAR WINNER

College Possible
1515 N. Rivercenter Drive, Milwaukee

Edie Turnbull believes every student in the Milwaukee region deserves a chance to earn a college education.

As executive director of Milwaukee-based College Possible, she seeks to give more and more students that opportunity.

During the 2014-’15 school year, the organization served nearly 700 high school students in 13 different schools in several low-income neighborhoods.

Statistics show that high-income students are 10 times more likely to earn a college degree than their low-income peers. College Possible envisions a day when the playing field truly is a level one, and students are judged solely on talent, motivation and effort, not on their socioeconomic status.

In total, the organization reached more than 3,700 students in high school, college and through college prep talks. Graduates earned more than $1.4 million in scholarships, and 93 percent of seniors earned admission to colleges and universities across the country.

The organization leverages the AmeriCorps model of service to address the college access gap, and the results are unmatched, Turnbull said.

Students who enter the program remain committed for approximately six to eight years.

Throughout their time in the program, students build a support network that includes multiple AmeriCorps coaches and the leadership team.

“College Possible is sometimes the most consistent, supportive entity in their lives,” Turnbull said.

The organization was the first in the country to adopt the AmeriCorps model. Through the program, recent college graduates give back by dedicating a year of service and mentorship to the organization. AmeriCorps members begin their term of service with four weeks of training.

The program operates at a cost that is less than one-seventh the cost of a similar, federally-funded program, and the results from College Possible are virtually unmatched, Turnbull said.

Coaches are given superior on-the-job training in culture, procedures, curriculum being taught, and the background on the students they will work with.

Not only does the use of AmeriCorps members make College Possible more successful, but it also makes it stronger. College Possible is one of the most cost-effective programs like it in the country.

The organization practices strategic, measured growth and raises any necessary funds before expansion to serve additional schools and more students, Turnbull said.

As a result, College Possible has ended the past six fiscal years in the black and has zero outstanding debt.

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