Public Education is on the Cusp of Massive Change and Innovation: Alumni Engagement

Inside America’s public high schools, student-to-counselor ratios are 491:1 on average, and competing teacher priorities and a lack of high quality, flexible instructional materials continue to be barriers to successful implementation of personalized learning.  

If changing economic factors and a growing demand for needs to be met have already seen homes turned into hotels and family cars into cabs thanks to the likes of Airbnb and Uber, it's time to rethink how public high schools perceive, engage, and utilize their alumni. 

Beyond textbooks and smartboards, alumni are a solution to engaging students (from the front row to the back!) and improving outcomes: 

  • Because alumni have a "been there - done that - I made it" story to inspire, guide and support students to achieve their goals

  • Because 80% of students want college and career guidance from alumni and recent grads

  • Because counselors are underfunded and overstretched

  • Because schools need community and business partnerships to support project-based and personalized learning

Many students navigating high school face hurdle after hurdle. Students may be the first college-bound senior in their family, living at or below the poverty line, or learning English as a second language. Alumni are the inspiring examples of how to leap over those hurdles, and are the greatest untapped asset in education today. 

It’s time to re-imagine outdated existing alumni programs and engage and mobilize alumni as partners for student success. 

Alumni engagement checks all the boxes: diversity, affordability, sustainability, and scalability. Alumni bring to life resources and tools for college knowledge, career awareness, project-based learning, and personalized learning.  
In 2015, Future First USA launched a two year, national research pilot. Working with researchers from the University of California, San Diego, our pilot explored the potential of alumni engagement to inspire student success, increase program services, improve school outcomes, and connect communities. So far:

  • Of the nearly 900 students who participated in our pilot alumni activities, 92% of students said alumni feedback was helpful to them.

  • Of the 29 educators who participated in our pilot alumni programs, 100% wanted more alumni activities for their students.

  • Of the 25 alumni who participated in our pilot college and career programs, 100% said they were very likely to return if asked again.

Evidence shows the gears and engine of alumni engagement are ready to go - the switch just needs to be turned on to fire it up. 

  • 79% of millennials volunteer annually.

  • 32% of high school alumni are likely to return to their alma mater as college and career guides.

  • 73% of high school alumni attend college in-state.

  • 60% of high school alumni pursue careers locally.

In the spirit of collaboration and community, Future First USA is dedicated to helping public schools access the resources and support they need to help students succeed in high school and beyond. With a focus on schools that serve low income, minority, and rural communities, we believe the power of alumni can empower students and offer them the tools, mindset, and resources to find success in life. 

Ready to join this movement towards alumni engagement? Reach out and send us an email


  • Achieve Millennial Alumni Report 2014, Achieve/Council of Philanthropy

  • Top 100 Millennial Findings- Case Foundation 2015 Millennial Impact Findings

  • YouGov survey of 1030 high school alumni

  • Achieve Millennial Alumni Report 2014, Achieve/Council of Philanthropy

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