The Undermatching Problem

A Phenomenon Plaguing the Nation


Undermatching is a phenomenon in American higher education in which well-qualified high school students, often from less affluent households, are not matched with competitive colleges. Undermatching is generally not believed to be caused by discriminatory policies by college admissions offices but rather by a lack of applications from well-qualified high school students.


Information Gap

High-achieving, low-income students may be unaware of all financial aid opportunities available to them, and may be deterred by application fees and tuition costs.

Mismatched Potential

Only 8% of high-achieving, low-income students are “achievement typical” in their application patterns. The vast majority of high-achieving, low-income students don't apply to a selective college or university.

Higher Cost

High-achieving, low-income students who attend an undermatched college or university, on average, pay more than if he or she had attended a more competitive college or university.


Michigan Based and Focused

Extending a Helping Mitten


Catalyst for Achievement is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We were founded in the state of Michigan and operate there despite the majority of the Board of Directors being located outside the mitten state. The founders grew up in the Metro-Detroit area and have a sense of commitment to it. Although we are attempting to tackle a national issue, our focus is the State of Michigan. Our current efforts concentrate on the City of Warren, Michigan. Forbes recently ranked Warren, Michigan the 7th most miserable city in the country.


Our Catalyst Strategy

Facilitate the Pursuit of Higher Education


The mission of Catalyst for Achievement is to facilitate the pursuit of higher education and to inspire junior and senior level high school students to achieve. We believe that higher education is an important investment for students and we seek to remove the barriers that limit their potential. Of even greater importance, we believe that students need to pursue higher education with a purpose. The Catalyst Scholarship starts the conversation - our mentorship creates the impact. The Catalyst Scholarship looks for a balance between merit-based and need-based criteria for selection of scholarship awardees. Students who are awarded our Catalyst Scholarship are automatically enrolled in the Hand-in-Hand Initiative.


Catalyst Scholarship

A scholarship that covers one application fee to a "reach" college or university based on a student's unique profile.


Hand-in-Hand Initiative

Mentors that provide guidance and support to scholarship awardees throughout the college application process.



Once a Catalyst, always a Catalyst. Awardees go on to college with the tools they need to succeed.


Building an Even Landscape

Bridging the Gap and Matching Potential

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80% Acceptance Rate

The percentage of mentees that were admitted to competitive universities.

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$17,000 Per Year

The average amount of financial aid and scholarships awarded to each mentee.

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100 Point Increase

The average score increase achieved by mentees who retook the SAT (2016 version).


Partner With Us

Help Scale the Impact


Who We Are

Learn more about the leadership and members of Catalyst for Achievement.


100% of every dollar donated to go exclusively towards our initiatives. 


Become a Catalyst today - challenge the undermatching problem.