Maximizing Emergency Aid for Students and Expanding to Create a More Equitable Social Safety Net

Nearly half of college students experience food or housing insecurity, and over 3 million drop out every year due to a time-sensitive financial crisis of less than $500. Over the past decade, nearly every college in the country has developed an emergency cash grant program (emergency aid) to try to keep students enrolled. These programs, however, wildly underperform, and they take as long as 13 days to get students paid post-application. Moreover, they are extremely costly to manage, as they often take $100-$350 worth of staff time across different departments to process a $500 award. 

Beam is an anti-poverty technology company focused on redesigning the safety net to provide cash for all Americans in need. Initially, Beam did this in higher education, streamlining access to emergency aid for college students. In education, Beam has administered over $100 million in government funding to more than 100,000 recipients and has demonstrated that they improve key societal outcomes, such as graduation rate, by as much as 200%.

In January 2022, Beam approached Open Road for a loan due to a potential liquidity issue. While they had sufficient assets to get them to a Series A, Beam had accumulated a significant amount of receivables with uncertain payment timelines. This Series A was critical, both for Beam’s financial health and to allow Beam to execute a material expansion of its mission: from simply providing cash assistance to students on behalf of postsecondary institutions to provide cash assistance for all Americans in need on behalf of the government.

Open Road’s Response

On March 3, 2022, Open Road provided an $850,000 loan to ensure that Beam could continue covering operating expenses until they either received payments from customers or closed their Series A. 

This loan has allowed Beam to successfully validate its expansion into state and local government, which will serve as the longer-term focus and the biggest driver of both growth and impact for the business. Beam is rapidly growing its government vertical, having taken on multiple state, county, and municipal government partners to streamline access to the safety net for low-income Americans. The company has distributed more than $200 million in various funding to more than 200,000 individuals and families.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Cities Summit Innovation Plaza Commercial Expo during the Cities Summit of the Americas at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado, on April 28, 2023.
(Official State Department photo by Chuck Kennedy)[/caption]