Melvin is the co-founder and CEO of Upswing, an organization that uses engagement software to help keep online students and adult learners on the path toward graduation.
There were 250 students in Melvin Hines Jr.’s class as he started his first year of high school in Albany, Georgia. Only 120 remained as his senior year got underway. He will never forget the relentless attrition that left so many young people without the most essential jumpstart to adulthood.
“I had friends who got pregnant, friends who died, friends who went to jail. By the time graduation came around, there were 68 of us who actually made it,” he said.
When he studied economics at the University of Georgia and rolled through law school at Duke University, the gulf between the high-flying scholars around him and the high school dropouts left behind grew even wider. While still an undergraduate at Georgia, Melvin Hines, now 34, took the first step towards closing that gap by helping with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Athens.
“I thought: ‘Somebody ought to do something about this. How can things be so disparate?’ I was keeping in touch with my high school friends and knowing what happened to them, and yet I have these college friends who are doing so many amazing things. How do you reconcile those two?”
Hines attended the University of Georgia studying economics (2002-2006) some of his activities included University Judiciary, Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO), Corner Talk, The Light Mentoring, Thomas Lay Mentoring, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He then went on to study law at the Dule University of Law (2006-2009) where he was involved in the Black Law Students Association. Afterward, he became a law professor at North Carolina Central University(2009-2011).
While the student success work, Hines believes the work of Upswing is of vital importance. Founded in 2013, Upswing’s mission is simple: to give all students the access and resources they need to help them graduate.
Upswing provides a solution to reach, relate to, and retain today’s non-traditional learners by scaling student services, supporting 24/7 online tutoring, optimizing engagement, and utilizing insightful data to identify and support at-risk students. Persistence rates for students connected to the Upswing platform typically increase between 10% and 15% and grade percentiles follow this upward trend. Upswing provides the data they accumulate to institutions to showcase that students are at the greatest risk of dropping out and how to better maximize the support they can provide.
Upswing has raised a total of $10M in funding over 8 rounds including investments from the likes of JP Morgan Chase as a lead investor.
Melvin Hines’s recognition of the importance of education and the accessibility needs to ensure students’ successes’ in education are one of many factors that demonstrate his commitment to bolstering Black excellence.
Melvin Hines is part of our Black Founders50 Series. Download the complete 2023 BBVA Founders50 list here.