COIN: Making college scholarships work for our kids and our communities.


It’s a familiar story: a child born into a poor community shows a spark of potential despite her under-resourced school and community. Teachers, mentors, and parents encourage her to look at college scholarships, which philanthropists fund to provide spots for disadvantaged kids in the nation’s top universities. She gets into school on scholarship and is applauded for “getting out” despite her community’s continued poverty.

When she is uprooted out of her home community, however, vital resources and talent are taken out of her impoverished neighborhood, leaving her community further depleted. And the families and children who couldn’t make it out are further marginalized.

Scholarships don’t have to work this way. At COIN, we know we can do better.

As a national leadership and community development program in poor communities, COIN scholarships tie individual opportunity for the poorest kids to community renewal and resilience. Our distinct approach builds on the potential of emerging leaders to cultivate active participation in community life and a cascading series of benefits for the local community, universities, government agencies, and community based organizations. In partnership with educators, donors, universities, and community-based organizations, COIN is at the forefront of improving both access to College and opportunity to disadvantaged youth.

Through various COIN programs, COIN Scholars are educated to carry a responsibility for the health of their community, trained to take part in weaving their local communal fabric, and asked to play an active role in their community as local problem solvers. We focus on skill development with a long-term approach; no matter their career path, COIN Scholars emerge rooted in an understanding of community health and belief in their own success.

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How do we get there?

The COIN Scholar program, in close partnership with community-based organizations, government agencies and colleges and universities, invests in preparing young people to be active participants in their own community-building through internship placements, policy trainings, field visits, relationship building with leaders in the community, mentorship, self-care/wellness development, and scholarship dollars and stipends that allow a long-term commitment to community work.

What’s our goal?

To generate a new cadre of local leaders who are committed to strengthening their home communities, while focusing and designing a community development framework that sees service, experiences valued in communities, integrated as part of academic curricula, as an invaluable mechanism for leveling the playing field.


An Expanding and Sustainable Scope 


Building on success and lessons learned in the field, COIN is now poised to serve as a catalyst for seeding sustainable and long-term community-building programs. COIN is an adaptable framework that can simultaneously stimulate and strengthen the well-being of local communities and enhance opportunities for underserved youth. Take a look at COIN models operating nationally here.

The COIN model (depicted in the corresponding diagram) is adaptive to the particulars of local challenges and opportunities, leverages local assets, resources, capacity, infrastructure, and capitalizes on existing programs, to build a community-focused agenda “in place.” The myriad of community collaborations breeds program durability, which is deliberately in-sync with local settings and local problems.

COIN has spawned numerous local partnership initiatives that demonstrate how local solutions can be built at the grassroots level and be scaled nationally. New initiatives, with guidance from NWF, are able to independently define and carry COIN forward in ways that synchronize community infrastructure and needs.

COIN Summer Service Corps

COIN piloted a Summer Service Corps in New York City in 2011, providing summer opportunities that complement the national cohort of COIN. Through summer service fellowships, low-income, first-generation college and university students are provided stipends to take part in community-based internships in their home communities. Complementing their field work, students attend weekly training seminars focusing on academic and leadership training, civic engagement, and policy writing and implementation. The Summer Service Corps addresses the severe summer learning loss that frequently dogs first-generation college students, while also exposing students to the transformative role of civic leadership in community development by providing training and immersion in the work of community-based organizations. Key COIN partners in the COIN Summer Service Corps include:

Inter-Organizational Collaborations

COIN is an evolving model that is flexible and adaptive. We aim to impact both local opportunities and national policy. To do this, we have established a strong network of collaborations and we are in the process of further expanding our partnerships with colleges and universities, community-based organizations, and community-based foundations. Please find below a selection of our partners.

Program Partners

Funding Partners

Research & Media Partners

Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)