WEDNESday, november 16, 2022

Becoming Beam by David Helene, CEO

Today marks an exciting day in our company’s history: we become Beam, formerly Edquity.
Since 2016, Edquity has partnered with over 40 higher education institutions to revolutionize how they support students’ basic needs through the provision of emergency financial assistance. I’ve been tremendously proud of how we’ve scaled rapidly during the pandemic to support students and their institutions at a time they’ve needed it most.
As we’ve scaled however, we’ve recognized two critical things:
First, given the massive looming funding cliff faced by postsecondary institutions, students who have been beneficiaries of federal emergency aid in recent years will need to access the traditional safety net to make financial stability and credential attainment a reality in 2023 and beyond as they continue to face untenable cost of living barriers; and
Second, as we saw so many governments struggle to get critical benefits out to individuals, it became clear that the challenge of ensuring that critical cash benefits reach the most vulnerable individuals quickly, effectively, and securely is not one that is endemic only to postsecondary institutions but rather plagues traditional social safety net programs related to housing, transportation, child care, food, and utility assistance, among others, as well.
While we always lead with humility at Beam, we realized that our technology and our material subject matter expertise around cash assistance administration could help address these challenges. And we’ve embraced that rather than simply supporting students alone, we needed to show up to support every American facing financial need.
And we’ve begun to do so.  
In the last 18 months, our flexible platform has administered over $180M to 300,000 households across programs that now include rental assistance, utility subsidies for low-income households, and direct cash assistance for childcare workers in addition to emergency student aid. Still growing rapidly, Beam partners with 53 institutions in more than 16 states that now includes governments and nonprofits and we expect to partner with many more across each of these segments in the months to come.
Edquity’s rebrand to Beam symbolizes this shift – from working solely with postsecondary institutions to working with all cash and benefit programs across government and communities to get timely support to all in need.

Why Beam?

As an active verb, beam means “to transmit in a specified direction and/or to shine brightly.” As a company, Beam works to “transmit'' critical cash, services, and resources to those in need: equitably, efficiently, and securely. Beyond the literal meaning, we find that the optimistic and encouraging spirit of the word fits our aspiration to be an effective beam of light and beam of hope for individuals and families as well as for the overburdened case managers and government officials working hard to process applications.
We’re extremely energized about this expansion of our mission and mandate. We also know that the current macroeconomic climate makes our work more important than ever. With evictions in communities hitting record highs and inflation continuing to create untenable pressures on cost of living, particularly for our least well resourced, w the ability of government to quickly, equitably, and effectively administer cash assistance programs will in some cases be literally life and death and will truly define communities for years to come.
We’re ready for this challenge, and have already begun successfully revolutionizing this digital infrastructure in communities across the country.
Becoming Beam corresponds with the announcement of our Series A fundraising round, which will help us partner with more agencies and governments across the country. In addition to focusing on growing the number and types of partners we serve, we are also investing more in data science and analytics capabilities to build intelligent tools that pre-qualify or screen individuals for additional programs they may be eligible for as they go through any application process.
Performing poverty over and over again is exhausting. And failing to deliver critical resources when someone is facing the threat of eviction or discontinuation of utilities can quite literally result in life and death. Ultimately, Beam aims to build better and smarter government systems to make applications easier from start to finish, reduce the number of applications an individual would need to submit over time, and get money out in hours rather than months. In doing so, we will bring dignity to the American social safety net and support millions of people in achieving the economic mobility that puts them on path to their best lives.

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