I met representatives from RaiseMe at a recent conference for college admissions professionals held in Salt Lake City. The idea of being connected with colleges that recognize and reward your academic performance, leadership, and service is a good thing. However, prior to setting up a RaiseMe account and logging all of your achievements into your profile throughout high school, you may want to consider what has been written about the program and concept.

Raise.me is opaque in ways that invite skepticism. Start with the name — Raise.me. I know of no other domain name ending in “.me.” Is Raise.me profit or not for profit? Did they cleverly avoid .com identification with the .me designation?

The background story suggests someone is in it for the money. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Raise.me is also known as Raise Labs, Inc., a privately held company financed primarily by venture capitalists. Venture capitalism is not inherently evil, but venture capitalism is surely not charitable. Raise.me seems to be a very sophisticated “cause-related” business, seeking to capitalize on student and family anxiety, concerns about higher education costs, and colleges’ hopes to capture more student interest at an earlier point in their academic lives. (Nelson 2/23/16)

In the almost three years since the service launched, 700,000 high schoolers have signed up. The company says 45% of its users are the first in their family to go to college, and 40% come from a low-income background. These students often don’t have the same access as their wealthier peers to guidance about the variety of colleges and financial aid opportunities— but both Raise.me and its college partners say the service is trying to close that gap. (Mulhere 6/2/17)

Our analysis is that if you are a good student, who is intentional in earning good grades, assuming leadership roles, and performing community service, you will have many need- or merit-based scholarship opportunities at a broad range of colleges. You may identify some of those colleges as RaiseMe partner schools, or you may identify such schools through your own research.