EverFi got started in the late-90s through online teaching programs that filled the gaps in regular public school curriculums. Things like life skills and hands-on knowledge that you use day-to-day but don’t necessarily learn from school were taught.
When you consider the huge increase in one-parent homes and even homes with both parents working so much that they can’t properly teach their kids, this is a good thing.
EverFi first started using its Haven online testing tool in schools in Massachusetts in 2000, and by 2013 there were 350 universities using it. This is the program that most UM students will be taking for the new alcohol awareness programs.
The company had but a few employees in the beginning but grew to 100 over a short time, reaching millions of students through their online programs. By 2011 their programs were being used in 3,000 high schools across the country.
EverFi is really working in lower-income areas, therefore, and there’s no tax-base to support what they’re doing. They get around this by getting a large part of their funding from corporations and other generous givers.
In 2012 they got a serious boost when some major players in the country’s leading tech companies got together and gave the growing company $10 million, bringing its cash reserves up to $21 million.
The whole idea was that EverFi would combat alcohol consumption and cyberbullying among teens, as well as teach them some basic financial literacy. Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Eric Schmidt of Google were early proponents.
That extra cash helped them expand and gain more attention. They acquired education company Outside The Classroom in 2011, rolling them into their operations. In 2013 EverFi partnered with Washington Federal and the United Way to teach Las Vegas school kids the basics of finance.
The company is of course expanding as it gets this influx of funding, and hefty contracts from places like UM. This past June EverFi was hiring for management, engineering and research for their Georgetown headquarters, close to all that federal money.
BostInno blog took a good look at what EverFi is doing on college campuses in Massachusetts as the 2014 Fall Term ramps up. In the article it’s explained that 40 colleges in the state are using EverFi’s Haven training test, which takes 45 minutes to complete online. The testing software was retooled in 2013 to add in the threat of sexual assaults, giving students an idea of how they can be prevented.
It’s clear EverFi’s expanding as the issue of sexual assaults, alcohol, and college campuses appears in the news more and more. “The first few weeks of college are the highest period for freshmen and sexual assault,” the BostInno article says, “meaning that Everfi pushes administrators on campus to do more and earlier prior to the start of classes.”
I don’t know…one the one hand combating sexual assaults and raising the awareness of the dangers of alcohol is a good thing. On the other hand, I worry companies like EverFi will continually push universities across the country – universities like UM – to use their programs, perhaps in conjunction with the federal government.
I worry that cronyism could take place and that the reliance upon programs like Haven to the exclusion of everything else won’t solve the problem, just create a laughable short-term dilemma students skirt around before heading off to that weekend’s party.
Call my cynical if you will, but no two-part computer test is going to solve the problems that UM has with alcohol, and I bet we’ll be seeing a spate of crimes again this semester.