Santo Domingo Foundation

Fundación Santo Domingo

The Center for International Development launched the Colombia Education Policy Research Program in 2022 through the support of the Fundación Santo Domingo (FSD).  The collaboration was launched with the ambitious goal of generating rigorous evidence to support education policies that increase educational opportunities for all students in Colombia. 

To advance more equitable access to higher education, the program supported an innovative career and financial aid explorer chatbot, ICFESBot, that has interacted with 53,000 students since 2022. This policy-research collaboration studies students’ beliefs about their higher education options, career choices and salaries, and financial aid options and viability by randomizing implementation of the chatbot by student. Early findings from this research suggest that when students interact with the chatbot, they improve the accuracy of their beliefs about the costs of affording higher education loans. There is also some evidence that students who interact with the chatbot and receive information about their eligibility for education financing increases the likelihood that students will apply and be approved for the loans.

To further access post-secondary education in Bogotá, the research program initiated a new collaboration with the Secretary of Education and the city-led STEM education agency Atanea, developing a personalized chatbot to help students access educational opportunities and help the city match students to its post-secondary program “Jovenes a la U”. 

During the summer of 2023, FSD is participating in the CID Global Internship Program. CID Intern Juan Celia is conducting a comprehensive analysis of the foundation’s employment programs in Barranquilla and Cartagena with the goal of strengthening the foundation’s efforts to generate sustainable jobs and elevate the quality of life for people in vulnerable communities.

Through continued support from the Fundación Santo Domingo, the program is looking to expand its scope with an exploration into new research areas of educational achievement equity and adolescent mental health, both high concerns for policymakers in Colombia in a post-pandemic world.