Grawemeyer Awars

Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of higher education policy and sociology was selected as recipient of the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Education. She was recognized for her research into the modern struggle to pay for college education, which led to her award winning book, "Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid and the Betrayal of the American Dream."

Goldrick-Rab will donate the award’s entire $100,000 prize to the FAST Fund, which helps college students across the country who are in desperate financial need. Prof. Goldrick-Rab will match donations that others make to the Fund at a rate of three-to-one, starting today. She will continue to match donations until her entire $100,000 prize has been spent down.

“I’m so honored to be the recipient of this year’s Grawemeyer Award,’ Dr. Goldrick-Rab said. “I also want the award to do good for as many people as it possibly can. Because of this, I’m donating 100% of the prize to the FAST Fund, which will help college students who are facing the little-known problems of homelessness and hunger. These are the challenges financial aid can’t—and won’t—fix, and raising public awareness of this growing problem is critical at this time.”
Dr. Goldrick-Rab created the FAST Fund in 2016 after publishing the book Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream (which won the Grawemeyer Award). Through her original research and writing she uncovered—as no one had before—the extent to which the college financial aid system does not help most students in need. Instead, young people are often forced to drop out of college before receiving a degree, saddling them with mountains of debt but nothing to show for it. And increasingly common challenges such as homelessness and hunger are never addressed through traditional financial aid routes. 
The Faculty And Students Together (FAST) Fund cuts out the bureaucracy and puts money in the hands of teachers around the country—the people on the front line of this fight—in order to get emergency dollars to students swiftly. Dr. Goldrick-Rab and her research team studied emergency aid like this over many years, and found that often it’s a smaller amount of money given at the right time that really makes a difference between a student staying in college or dropping out. This money can help make students’ immediate survival possible, while others work to create the systemic change to solve the root causes of this problem.
Some examples of what emergency aid money from the FAST Fund has been used for so far, from the Milwaukee Area Technical College:
  • A student had taken five early childhood education courses and paid for her Early Childhood Administrator credential. She did not have the $300 license fee that would allow her to be employed. The FAST Fund was used to paid the $300 fee.
  • A male business student was homeless for three weeks after aging out of foster care. Spending nights at Dunkin Donuts, he was living out of his suitcase and cleaning up at MATC at 6 AM when it opened. Immaculately dressed in suit and tie, he broke down explaining his circumstances. The FAST Fund provided him with $345 to secure temporary housing and purchase food.
  • Provided $700 to a DACA student who was working 60 hours a week and going to school full-time in the dental tech program in order to reduce her hours and focus on her education.
  • A paralegal student, the working mother of four children under the age of ten, was abandoned by her partner, who left her with very little money. She and her children were facing eviction because she was $400 short on her rent. The Fast Fund provided her with the money to prevent the eviction.
Donations beginning at 12:01 AM EST on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, will be matched at a rate of three-to-one by Dr. Goldrick-Rab (i.e., a donation of $50.00 from Jane Doe will be matched by a $150.00 donation from Dr. Goldrick-Rab). This matching will continue until all $100,000 of her prize has been donated to the FAST Fund. Donations to the FAST Fund are tax-deductible, and help real young people facing real hardships as they try to build a better life. 
One can donate to the FAST Fund online or checks can be made payable to the nonprofit Believe in Students, Inc., and mailed to:
Believe in Students, Inc.
P.O. Box 37199
Philadelphia, PA 19148
The FAST Fund currently works with the following schools: California State University—Long Beach, California; Nash Community College, Rocky Mount, North Carolina; Columbus State Community College, Columbus, Ohio; Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, Massachusetts; and Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Grawemeyer Award in Education is intended to stimulate the dissemination, public scrutiny and implementation of ideas that have potential to bring about significant improvement in educational practice and advances in educational attainment. The award was created not only to reward the individuals responsible, but also to draw attention to their ideas, proposals or achievements. The award is designed to recognize a specific recent idea/study rather than a lifetime of accomplishment.