Tom Lewis Oink Group Inc. CEO/Founder: increasing college graduation rates and decreasing student loans

By Taroue Brooks

What is your company’s mission?

Our mission is to increase college graduation rates and decrease the borrowing of student loans in underserved communities through parent engagement. 

Tell us about a success story that was a direct result of your company.

We have many success stories. One that really stayed with me is when we did a workshop on the 5 Stages of College Planning for Parents for a group of Action Councils in Chicago and months later we received follow up calls from parents sharing that after showing their children that they had started a college scholarship account and telling them they were going to go to college their children interest in school drastically increased. They saw their children grades move upward and some shared they were able to leverage the college readiness information which allowed them to lead their children opposed to pulling them. 

Who is the perfect candidate or partner and why?

The perfect candidate is a parent with a new born child because time is on their side. They will be able to take advantage of all the benefits we offer through our program. Over the next 17 years they will receive birthday scholarships, 5% back on their savings in the form of scholarships, they’ll be able to take advantage of college readiness events at every learning stage of their child’s development  which will lead to a positive impact in their child’s school performance, giving them the best chance of receiving a full-ride to college through our College Prep 4Parents Program.

What advice do you have for a high school student that doesn’t have money for college?

The advice I would give a high school student that doesn’t have money for college is to find an expert – like a college counselor/advisor and do exactly what they tell you to do. Do not lean on your own understanding because once you do you are no longer taking the advice of an expert.

What advice do you have for parents that want to prepare for their children’s education?

The advice I would give to parents is to learn as much about college readiness as possible. Research has shown that the college readiness process begins the minute children are born.  The things we take for granted such as listening skills, reading comprehension, writing, speech, and communication skills are vital. They impact the child’s performance in school as early as preschool. Raising highly capable children is a process and demands the parents attention. 

Parents that invest in understanding college readiness are rewarded with high performing children and high performing children are rewarded with scholarships.

Where do you see the company in the next five years?

The Oink Group is a social enterprise. In the next 5 years I can see us having physical branches in most major metropolitan areas in the U.S.. We have high participation rate at events and it would give our members in other parts of the country an opportunity to engage our team in person.

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