Editorial Team

GrayKea Inc., a social impact startup that aims to relieve the financial stress of students in college through alumni crowdfunding, has recently secured a pilot program partnership with the University of Illinois Foundation. The Foundation has also made an investment of to support the initiation and completion of this pilot program. This investment is the first of its kind through the Foundation’s UIDEA program, an internal accelerator to fuel new ideas in university advancement. GrayKea Inc. was started by three childhood best friends who are now students at the University of California Berkeley, the University of Southern California, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). GrayKea Inc. has raised $57,000 to date and plans to deploy this capital towards its product development and marketing efforts.

The pilot program in progress aims to raise $50,000 for student tuition and housing across 4,000 UIUC alumni through a synergetic partnership with the University of Illinois Foundation. “With almost one in two college students in the U.S. experiencing some sort of financial insecurity today, the need to stimulate alumni giving is stronger than ever,” says Ayushi Gupta, Co-Founder of GrayKea.

This partnership prefaces GrayKea’s goal to collaborate with universities across the US and then India, starting with the University of Illinois Foundation, that share their vision. Once GrayKea proves their business model in the US market, the team is incredibly excited to bring their platform to India to improve the quality of education at Indian universities by revolutionizing alumni giving. “GrayKea’s platform will create direct-support options otherwise unavailable to donors while simultaneously creating another avenue through which to make traditional scholarship gifts. Our UIDEA selection committee noted in its final decisions that GrayKea’s idea is the most disruptive we’ve had to date in the UIDEA program,” shares Katie Blum, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Innovation at the University of Illinois Foundation.

“With two women co-founders on the team, GrayKea challenges gender norms while empowering its vision with a unique and diverse perspective,” remarks Siddhi Chandak, Co-Founder of GrayKea.

This social impact and fintech blend startup has gained notable traction in the Midwest entrepreneurial ecosystem, primarily through its involvement in iVenture and winning multiple prizes in the Cozad competition of 2021. “The entrepreneurship resources at Illinois have been integral in incorporating GrayKea into the university’s advancement and startup ecosystems,” adds Manav Modi, Co-Founder of GrayKea.

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