Austin-Based PelotonU On-Track to Solve Working-Adult College Degree Drop-out Dilemma as Non-Profit Turns Four

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PelotonU supports working adults and 85% of its students are on track to graduate - five times the average for their peers. As a result of PelotonU, over 50 working adults will earn their college degrees -- a real-world proof that its technique works and scales.

"In other words, PelotonU students remain engaged in studies and few drop out..."

With four years of lessons learned and over 50 students on track to graduate debt-free, PelotonU is poised to solve college completion for working adults on a larger scale.

Unique approaches to assisting working adults have consistently yielded an 85% persistence rate for students at PelotonU — five times better than their peer's Austin average. In other words, PelotonU students remain engaged in their studies and few drop out.

"We have combined in-person coaching and Competency Based Education (CBE), refined it over the past four years and it works," said Hudson Baird, Co-Founder and Executive Director of PelotonU. "We’re great at that now, and have invested our time in building the infrastructure, team, and systems to support our students. Now we’re excited to grow and work more closely with community partners to ensure hard-working adults have a path to their Bachelor's degree.”

PelotonU, acknowledged in a Forbes article earlier this year entitled, "A Small Nonprofit's Big Remedy For The Plagues Of Today's College Students," is tackling the higher education crisis with a community-oriented approach by partnering with Austin employers and like-minded nonprofits to reach the 255,000 working adults in central Texas with some college credit and no degree.

Employers value the flexibility of PelotonU’s program to fit around their employees’ full-time work schedule, and local non-profits see the weekly in-person support provided by PelotonU as crucial for many of their clients. Some of PelotonU’s active partners include the Public Works Department at the City of Austin, St. David’s Hospital, College Forward, Breakthrough Austin, and the Goodwill Excel Center.

According to Austin’s E3 Alliance, only 28 percent of all Central Texas high school graduates go on to earn any type of college certification or degree, and just 12 percent of them come from low-income families.

By 2020, PelotonU wants to serve 500 students and teach 50 other organizations how to offer a similar model in communities outside Austin. PelotonU has built a new pathway to college graduation, and its vision is to create a network of like-minded practitioners who work together to improve the model and increase opportunities for working adults to graduate and get a job that makes a big difference for their family.

“Our fourth birthday marks a significant milestone, and personally, it coincides with a point which as a founder I am able to move from a state of irrational optimism to rational optimism,” said Rex Gore, Co-Founder and the person who envisioned PelotonU in 2012. “We engaged in an irrational exercise by believing that despite millions of smart individuals trying to reinvent the higher education space with billions of dollars being spent; no one has been clever, insightful, or thoughtful enough to see that there is a better way to solve the higher education crisis. For a venture like PelotonU to turn four after taking a radically new approach to addressing long-established problems -- and seeing the learning outcomes, satisfied students and persistence rates -- makes me think that this thing (PelotonU) is actually going to work.”

What makes PelotonU unique is its proven model of combining competency-based education (CBE) with in-person coaching. Competency-based education is an online pedagogy offered by online universities and built for working adults. CBE allows students to take one course at a time and demonstrate content mastery at their own pace, with weekly in-person coaching, deadline-setting, and tutoring provided by PelotonU to ensure steady progress to graduation.

“The PelotonU model appeals to a wide variety of our employees at St. David’s Healthcare – whether they have just graduated, or been out of school for many years,” said Cameron Howard, Associate Chief Operating Officer of St. David's North Austin Medical Center. “Balancing work, finances, personal endeavors and the pursuit of higher education can be overwhelming. PelotonU and our leaders work together to coordinate schedules and empower students to apply themselves to the flexible curriculum, hands-on coaching and their role at St. David’s Healthcare. We greatly value our relationship with PelotonU and look forward to working closely with them for years to come.”

Founded in 2012, and led by co-founders Hudson Baird and Sarah Saxton-Frump, PelotonU is a non-profit social enterprise that provides working adults a pathway and support to graduate from college on-time and debt-free. For more information about PelotonU’s model, funding and recruitment efforts, visit or email hudson(at)pelotonu(dot)org.

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Hudson Baird
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