The Pell Institute publishes research and analyses that address equal educational opportunity, particularly the outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled students. Additional publications include occasional papers, policy briefs, and an electronic newsletter.

Travelers EDGE — 10 Years of College Access and Success (.pdf)

Travelers EDGE Seen as Effective Model in Preparing Underrepresented Students for Workforce

A new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education finds that Travelers EDGE (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment), a privately-funded, holistic college access and success program of Travelers, is boosting the graduation and employment rates of students who are traditionally underrepresented in the insurance and financial services industry.

The study focuses on outcomes for the first 10 years of the program, which is implemented through strategic partnerships between Travelers and local high schools, colleges, and community-based organizations in three cities: Hartford, Connecticut; St. Paul, Minnesota; Baltimore, Maryland.

“Travelers EDGE is unique because it uses an integrated combination of research-based and high-impact practices to create a promising model for helping low-income, first-generation students graduate and pursue meaningful careers,” said Margaret Cahalan, director of the Pell Institute and a co-author of the report. “The program provides not only financial support and a network of peers, but also personalized academic advising, mentoring and professional development opportunities through internships and workshops.”

According to the report, an average of 4,800 students each year in middle schools, high schools, and colleges have benefited from some level of support through Travelers EDGE since its start in 2007. Through the program, hundreds of undergraduates have received a direct scholarship or stipend and have successfully attained a bachelor’s degree or are currently on track to do so. The graduation rates of Travelers EDGE Scholars are significantly higher than the national averages of similar student populations, according to the Beginning Postsecondary Students longitudinal study of the National Center for Education Statistics.

In addition, the report found that an average of 64 percent of the Travelers EDGE Scholar graduates secured professional employment in the fall immediately following graduation. Of those, 76 percent obtained jobs either at Travelers or elsewhere within the insurance and financial services industry.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to pursue a higher education, and Travelers EDGE makes that a possibility for those who didn’t think they would have the chance,” said Tara Spain, Second Vice President, Travelers Community Relations. “Through financial assistance and a strong support system, we’re helping to break down barriers for underrepresented students and set them on a path toward educational success and a career in the insurance and financial services industry.”

Other major findings of the Pell Institute report include:

  • A dedicated corporate partner with a substantial investment of both financial and human capital support combined with local partnerships and ongoing communications are integral to the success of the model.

  • A strong correlation exists between internships and mentoring and successful conversion to full-time employment.

  • Feasible career aspirations and goal commitment are key to retention; clear pathways and robust supportive services are critical to helping students succeed.

  • Travelers EDGE has a multiplier effect, meaning it not only has an impact on its participants but also on participants’ family members, friends and surrounding communities.

“Travelers is making a positive impact in the local communities in which it is based while increasing the pipeline of diverse talent into its own workforce and the insurance and financial services industry more broadly,” said Cahalan. “Over the past decade, Travelers has developed a feasible and workable model that other companies and industries could emulate.”