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Young, Black Tech Entrepreneur Creates App to Help Students with College Funding

Christopher Gray, CEO and Co-Founder of Scholly

Christopher Gray, CEO and Co-Founder of Scholly

Wouldn’t you like to have a faster and a more efficient way to find free money for college?

Well, there’s an app for that.

Millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed every year and 23-year-old Christopher Gray found a way to make scholarships more accessible. The co-founder and CEO founded Scholly, a mobile app that gives students a fast and simple way to find scholarships for college.

This is how Scholly works: once you’ve installed the app and open it up, you’re prompted to disclose a bit of information to help find scholarships that fit your criteria. The state you live in, race, GPA, gender, major and grade are all there. The program then searches its database of over 20,000 scholarships and displays the ones for which you qualify.

After Gray’s appearance on Shark Tank in February and after getting a $40,000 investment from two Sharks, Scholly was the number one seller in the App store for two weeks and received about 8,000 hits per second. Retailing at .99 cents on iOS and Android, Scholly has helped students raise at least $9 million.

Gray has experience in applying and winning money for college. The recent Drexel University graduate received $1.3 million in scholarships, including a full ride from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to Techcrunch.com, Scholly announced deals with both the city of Memphis and the state of Montana, both of which are purchasing the app for every high-school senior in their respective region. My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative started by President Obama to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color, announced that it would purchase 275,000 downloads of Scholly to distribute to participants.

Gray told the Philadelphia Business Journal that its partnership with My Brother’s Keeper has had the most impact on Scholly’s growth.

“That was just massive,” Gray said. “Essentially having the president endorse our product was amazing. We have a reoccurring [deal] with a national organization that will provide Scholly for students across the nation every year. That’s really been the most powerful thing.”

The company is shifting its efforts to focus on sales and corporate sponsorships. Gray feels that these deals will further reduce the barrier of entry for students needing financial aid.

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