Around the Institute

First-Ever #ProofPointDay Highlights First-Generation College Students

May 13, 2014

#ProofPoint Day, on May 30th, is a national effort to recognize first-generation college students.

Students who are the first in their families to attend college often face academic, social, and logistical obstacles. A first-generation college student herself, Chastity Lord is a leader in the education reform field as the chief external officer of Achievement First and a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. After years of witnessing the challenges first-generation college students face, Lord decided to use her Fellowship project to start the conversation about this issue.  

The result is the creation of #ProofPointDay, a national effort to highlight first-generation college graduates (FG’s); future FGs, and FG allies.

“I named my project National #ProofPointDay because a proof point is evidence that a certain method or idea is possible,” Lord said. “Seeing yourself in someone is very powerful and can change the way a person dreams. It’s hard to dream about things you don’t know exist.”

The inaugural celebration will take place on May 30th when FGs are encouraged to wear green to show their support. Lord’s goal is to inspire support for future and current first-generation college-goers the way Earth Day raises awareness about environmental issues. The project has already garnered the backing of many exceptional FGs, including first lady Michelle Obama and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  

We caught up with Lord to learn more about #ProofPointDay and how her experience as a Pahara-Aspen Fellow has inspired this effort.  

Aspen Idea: Tell me about your Fellowship project #ProofPointDay.  

CL: Imagine a day where hundreds of thousands of people who are first-generation college graduates, FG allies, or future FGs are walking the streets, boarding buses and subways, or driving to work or class wearing green. [These FG supporters] will serve as vocal and visible #ProofPoints for the thousands of kids who have yet to begin the journey, and for the thousands that are on the journey and may feel alone.  

AI: How did your experience as a first-generation college graduate shape you?  

CL: As a first-generation college graduate, I am deeply passionate about and humbled by the role education has played in redefining my dreams, narrative, and personal revolutions. I live a life that my mother and grandmother did not know existed — and I largely attribute this to a college degree, which has provided me access to numerous visible and vocal proof points. 

AI: How did your experience as a Pahara-Aspen Fellow impact the way you lead?

CL: My Aspen-Pahara experience was profoundly transformative. I am confident that I would not have pursued the national #ProofPointDay project if it hadn’t been for the opportunity to deeply reflect on the leader I have been, the leader I am, and get clearer on the leader I desire to be. Ultimately, it has given me the courage to compose my world, rather than just reacting to what is presented. It’s hard to believe how powerfully intentional text and facilitated conversations have provided the fuel I needed to take more audacious risks.

AI: How can people get involved in #ProofPointDay?  

CL: Join thousands of FGs; future FGs and FG allies in wearing green on May 30th to serve as a proof point. 

To learn more about #ProofPointDay, visit and download the “Get Involved” resource guide. Join the movement and follow #ProofPointDay on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Caitlin Colegrove is the network and communications manager for the Aspen Global Leadership Network.