A first-generation college student who grew up in inner-city Boston, Alexandra (Alex) Bernadotte struggled as a Dartmouth undergrad. Her experience drove her to ensure that other students didn’t experience the lack of a support system that she did.
With a vision to start a company that would dramatically increase the number of first-generation and historically underrepresented students who graduate from college and translate their degrees into choice-filled lives, Alex worked in the private sector and then moved on to an education nonprofit that focused on college access and success. To gain additional education knowledge and business insight, Alex returned to graduate school and pursued an Education Pioneers Fellowship.
“An Education Pioneers Fellowship, both the experience and the connections, was invaluable as I launched my business,” she says.
As a Fellow, Alex leveraged her private sector experience and education knowledge to support NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm. The Fellowship’s professional development workshops were unexpectedly transformative.
“I underestimated the Fellowship’s significant value because I had an education background,” she says. “The humbling part was how much I didn’t know and how much I learned from my cohort. There are so many ways to improve outcomes for kids, and we were all trying to find solutions.”
Alex’s EP experience helped make her vision a reality as she launched Beyond 12, a nonprofit that bridges K-12 and higher education by helping high schools and colleges provide students with the support they need to succeed in college and beyond.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to do this work and more than I hoped it could be,” Alex says of her work. “I am extremely grateful to Education Pioneers for supporting me from the beginning.”
Today, Beyond 12 works with over 120 high schools, college access organizations, and colleges and supports 96,000 students nationally on their coaching platform. The organization was named one of the world’s ten most innovative education companies by Fast Company, and its MyCoach mobile app won the 2016 Xammy Award for best social impact app from Xamarin, a Microsoft- owned mobile development platform.