Research driven by curiosity and collaboration

Meet the research partners behind Mainstay's most impactful and inspiring outcomes

When it comes to the success of our partners, we don’t rely on luck. Mainstay has been putting in the work behind the scenes for nearly a decade to spark more engaging conversations, create the most impactful messages, and deliver positive results for our partners.

We partner with top researchers in education, psychology, behavioral science, and technology to ensure we are making a positive impact on the lives of students and employees every day. We use this data to inform our Behavioral Intelligence approach by using empathy, culture, and context to enhance our messages at every milestone. 

This means when you work with Mainstay, we’ve done the heavy lifting — so you can reap the benefits of our expertise.

Mainstay's research partners

Annenberg Institute at Brown University logo
Partnership for Education Advancement logo
Irrational Labs logo

The Partnership for Ed Advancement

Improving what we say and how we say it

Mainstay is proud to work with The Partnership for Education Advancement — which collaborates with higher education leaders, philanthropy, socially responsible businesses, and policymakers to develop solutions that advance equity in educational opportunities.

This partnership is a reflection of our commitment to equal access to education for historically resilient students, and it’s a way for us to ensure that the conversations we have with these students are impactful and culturally relevant.

By developing deep partnerships with key institutions, we are able to create a network where success at a single HBCU can benefit all our partners.

An employee smiling at their phone

Irrational Labs

Advancing our Behavioral Intelligence approach

We know that what people say they want isn’t always what they actually need. That’s why we’ve partnered with Irrational Labs, which trains us in the Behavioral Science techniques (nudge theory, choice architecture, impact bias, social norms, and more) that inform our product decisions.

Our process with Irrational Labs begins with a deep dive into the decision-making environment and its impact on behavior. Together, we use this information to create a behavioral map, identify psychological barriers to driving action, and reduce friction at those key barrier points to improve outcomes at every stage of the journey. From there, we can tap into the psychology of decision-making to create conversations that drive behavioral change at scale.

3X more likely to apply for FAFSA

In an experiment with Irrational Labs, we discovered that students who received texts from Mainstay that said applying for FAFSA is part of their enrollment process were 3X more likely to apply.

Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Supporting the next generation of innovators

Supporting students’ social and emotional needs is crucial to their success in college. That’s why we’ve been working with experts at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to help us weave key research-backed messaging into our conversations with students.

Led by research psychologist and Founding Director Marc Brackett, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is conducted in collaboration with experts in education, psychology, policy, and technology. This cross-disciplinary team reviews Mainstay’s conversations for effective social and emotional content to ensure our messaging has the most impact on key milestones.

This partnership helps us provide the most impactful encouragement — like normalizing asking for help and giving people the tools they need to persist on difficult tasks. We also use data from this partnership to inform our recommended scripts and communication calendars for all our partners.

The National Institute for Student Success

Breaking through student success barriers

There’s a reason Georgia State University has had over 500 campuses come to look at their student success programs: when schools want to make a real difference, they look to leaders in the field. 

Tim Renick is one of those leaders. As Executive Director of The National Institute for Student Success (NISS), he has partnered with colleges and universities across the country to help them identify their own institutionally created barriers to student success and introduce evidence-based methods of removing those barriers.

Mainstay partners with Tim Renick and NISS to identify and understand institutional-created barriers to completion and implement large-scale, data-based interventions to support positive student outcomes.

“While American higher education was not designed to produce equitable outcomes, we now have the power to redesign our campuses to provide timely, individualized support to all students. As Georgia State University has shown over the past decade, the results can be transformative.”

– Dr. Tim Renick, Executive Director NISS, EdScoop

Beating summer melt

Lindsay Page, and Hunter Gehlbach implemented a field experiment that illustrated how Mainstay’s behaviorally intelligent chatbots reduced summer melt and efficiently supported thousands of incoming college freshmen with personalized outreach and guidance.

Improving academic success

Lindsey Fifeld and Katharine Meyer conducted a recent RCT that showed how students who received timely messages from Mainstay’s empathetic chatbots showed significant improvement in their academic success — often making the difference between passing and failing a required course.


Proving our impact

At Mainstay, we’re committed to making a positive impact on students and employees — and the only way to do that is by knowing what works, what doesn’t, and why.

That’s why Mainstay has partnered with institutions of all sizes to conduct Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) that study the impact and efficacy of our messages.

These RCTs inform our year-long communications calendar and make our communication more effective for all our partners. 

Spotlight on our research partners

Lindsay Page
Annenberg Associate Professor of Education Policy


Hunter Gehlbach
Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Education

Lindsey Fifeld
Project director at GSU

Katharine Meyer
Postdoctoral Research Associate at Annenberg Institute

Insights from our latest research studies

Randomized Controlled Trials continually demonstrate how Mainstay’s timely, personalized support increases the likelihood that students will succeed in and out of the classroom.

reduction in summer melt
increase in the likelihood of getting B or higher
of students recommend the chatbot
more likely to register for fall semester early

Powerful, proven engagement that drives real impact

At Mainstay. don’t just talk the talk — we walk the walk. We partner with experts in the field and relentlessly study outcomes to ensure we are making a difference.

When you want to achieve your most ambitious goals, you need an Engagement Platform that is built on a research-backed, Behavioral Intelligence approach that helps you understand what your students are doing and why.

By working with Mainstay, you’ll gain access to insights and data about student engagement that you can use to inform your future outreach efforts and improve positive outcomes at every stage.

Book a call with us today to see how Mainstay gives you the power to support people through any challenge. 

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