Meet the developer: Christopher Gray – Discover
As a teenager in Alabama, Christopher Gray was a straightforward student, a community volunteer, and a relentless dreamer. He was also the son of a single mother who had lost her job due to the recession. Sometimes, during their high school years, they were homeless.
With graduation approaching, Gray came to see college as a necessity, but with a price as a luxury item. Having no internet access at home, he sought scholarships at the library, one hour at a time, according to published screen limits. He often wrote 500-word app reviews on his phone – not a smartphone, but a thick 2008 model with a small keyboard. He did it for seven months.
“I saw a problem and tried to fix it,” he says from a Hollywood office populated by a handful of co-workers and a very large dog named Milk. “My grandmother always said to me,‘ You have to work. You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people.
When his first scholarship check arrived, he felt that his efforts were paying off. When the last one arrived, Gray had amassed $ 1.3 million.
He used the money to study finance and entrepreneurship at Drexel University (and to cover his living expenses for four years). But the process bothered him. How, he thought, could he be so disarticulated? How many students had been discouraged from going or even applying to college?
“I realized there was all this money looking for students,” he says, “and all this students looking for money.”
Enter Scholly. Founded in Drexel by Gray and colleagues Nick Pirollo and Bryson Alef, it was launched in 2015 with the simple goal of matching students with available scholarships – enter your age, interests and other demographic information and Scholly would find possible adaptations.
The idea, Gray says, stemmed from his desire to help others do what he did. “I received a scholarship because I was the only one who applied. Many times, students just don’t know they exist. “
More good news has come. Its story soon reached Shark Tank producers, and the rest is Scholly’s story: Gray’s 60-second release resulted in an almost instant deal with Lori Greiner and Daymond John, and some off-screen viral dramas. . Greiner offered Gray his requested $ 40,000 without even asking questions. study.)
I realized that there is all this money looking for students and all these students looking for money.
Scholly Search is the classic example of a simple idea that exploded. Today, it has approximately 3 million users who have secured more than $ 110 million in scholarships.
Actor and activist Jesse Williams is a board member of Scholly Search; Chance the Rapper has appeared in its Chicago-based initiatives. The company has moved from Philadelphia to California to a large corner office with mountain views.
“The numbers are compelling,” says Gray, “but what’s so powerful is the stories of people getting, like, the last $ 3,000 they need to sign up. He comes up to me and says, “Wow, you’re Scholly!” Not “Oh, you’re Chris!” a homeless child “.
Still in his twenties, Gray has been nominated for Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for social entrepreneurship and Oprah Winfrey’s “SuperSoul 100” (which are basically his favorite people). He spoke at the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Summit and received the 2018 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award.
In recent years, Gray has set out to turn Scholly into a full-service educational application. Scholly Math is a standalone application based on artificial intelligence that helps students solve complicated problems (everything shows their work, of course). There is also Scholly Editor, a web-based proofreader. “We originally created it to help with rehearsals,” says Gray, “but many children use it to get better grades and learn English, especially in neglected schools.” Above all, he hopes to continue to help students achieve dreams that circumstances might have considered impossible. “Something good happened to me,” he says, “and now maybe I can help people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to help themselves.”
Originally posted on the App Store.