Daring Origins: Christopher Gray, College Admissions Reformer

Americans place an increasingly high value on college education for its job-seeking benefits. But it can create a large financial burden, and finding ways to offset the cost of tuition can be challenging. Christopher Gray dared to envision a more effective way of paying for college. His solution was Scholly—an innovative mobile and web platform that provides access to funding sources that have previously remained untapped.

Like many students looking to pursue a college degree, Christopher’s ambitions were challenged by high tuition fees. Now at an all-time high of $1.2 trillion, tertiary education debt makes many prospective students think twice about going to college.

Now 24 years old, Christopher recalls this feeling all-too-well. “I felt that I was smart, but that I couldn’t achieve because of my circumstances.” And timing could not have been worse—Christopher’s mother had recently lost her job during the recession and schools were becoming more conservative with financial aid incentives.

Christopher was resilient, and driven. The ambitious teen spent nearly seven months at the library scouring the Internet for scholarship opportunities; all while working a job, helping out at home, and finishing out his last year of high school.

“I felt that I was smart, but that I couldn’t achieve because of my circumstances.”
Christopher Gray

Guided by the persistence and perseverance instilled in him by his mother, Christopher accumulated a remarkable $1.3 million in private scholarships—an amount that would ultimately more than cover his undergraduate costs. But Christopher found the process unnecessarily difficult and saw an opportunity for change.

Having found that many scholarships were receiving little to no applicants, Christopher landed on the concept of Scholly—an innovative mobile and web app that would help driven students by streamlining the process and connecting them to scholarships that fit their unique strengths and abilities.

Today, Christopher empowers students at a time when they need it most. As he looks ahead, Christopher plans to expand Scholly’s capabilities and provide access to even greater educational opportunities. With his newly developed program “Give: Scholly,” Christopher enables organizations and companies to offer the app for free. He also plans to announce a partnership with a non-profit that will provide Scholly to 600,000 high school students in the near future.

Scholly began as a simple effort to help others and quickly evolved into a successful business venture after appearing on a broadcast television show. With the funding he required, Christopher launched Scholly and watched it become one of the most frequently downloaded mobile apps.

Among the many features of Scholly, Christopher is particularly proud of its ability to filter between need and merit-based scholarships. He believes this helps students realize that they do not have to fit a particular demographic to receive help paying for college.

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