Christopher Gray is the founder of Scholly, the number one rated college scholarship app in the world. A Birmingham, Alabama native, Gray always had dreams of doing great things but had no idea where to start. As a high school junior, growing up in a single-parent household with a mom who was unemployed at the time, Gray didn’t know if he would be able to make his dreams of going to college come true. A $1.3 million scholarship changed all of that and became the spark that would eventually become Scholly.
“I grew up in a low-income household, and I was the first in my family to go to college. I was able to land a million-dollar scholarship, and that changed my life. That allowed me to go to college, that gave me no student debt, and I went throughout college trying to help other students do the same,” Gray told Because Of Them We Can.
Soon Gray realized there was no way for him to help as many people as he wanted by himself, eventually thinking up ways to scale his efforts. Then, he came up with the idea for Scholly.
“There are hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarships that were going unclaimed every year simply because students just didn’t know they existed, and that was an issue for me. Especially students of color who need these dollars the most and them not knowing or having access to that capital, or anyone with capital, it [was] really disturbing,” Gray said.
Eventually, Gray launched the app, bridging the gap between students and money for college, launching on Shark Tank and rolling out on the app store soon after. Since then, the company has facilitated over $100 million in scholarships, boasting 4 million app users. Not only does the app provide a search feature for users to look for scholarships, but they also have a tool that helps students pay off, manage and lower their loan costs, as well as Scholly Build. This platform allows organizations to set up scholarships through the app.
Annually, they facilitate a million-dollar student loan payout and are currently consolidating their partnerships to help create a common app scholarship. Gray recently released a new book, “Go Where There Is No Path,” inspired by questions he often receives, intending to provide actionable steps for those looking to follow in his footsteps.
“It’s really a book about life lessons, overcoming adversity and how, especially as a person of color, how do you address these insurmountable odds and how do you create a path using hustle, grit, scholarship, and faith...to really be able to navigate the world through... very unconventional ways,” Gray said.
His advice for students preparing for college is simple: plan, prepare as much as possible, and write a good foundational essay that you can use for multiple scholarships.
“First, check out all the different scholarships you want to apply for on the app, see all the commonalities, and just revise as you go. That is the easiest way...apply to as many scholarships as you can,” he said.
Scholly is currently rolling out collaborations between students and HBCUs and is looking to launch their new app updates, including the Common App scholarships, this fall.
For more information, visit Scholly and download the app.
This article was originally published on BOTWC