Editor’s note: In the third of a series profiling the five latest NC IDEA grant winners, ExitEvent Editor Laura Baverman talks with Melvin Hines, founder of Upswing. ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire.

DURHAM, N.C. – Tutors across North Carolina are logging into an online service called Upswing and helping community college students pass math, science and English classes. And all the data collected about those students will soon become an important retention tool for colleges and universities.What do you think?

At least that’s the hope of Melvin Hines, who started the company in 2012 after years of interest in reducing high school and college dropout rates, especially in rural and impoverished areas. 7 community colleges around the state with more than 30,000 students subscribe to the service today, and Hines says on average, each university earns $700,000 more a year in tuition as students stay in school. Tutors are free to students of those universities any time of the day.What do you think?

Hines has raised just north of $300,000 from friends, family, the Charlotte Angel Fund and a Dallas accelerator, and expects to be cash flow positive in the spring of 2015, at which point he may consider a series A. In the mean time, an NC IDEA grant, awarded today, will help the Raleigh startup expand its platform to mobile—many students in rural areas still lack access to wi-fi and computers.What do you think?

“Our focus has always been on increasing access to students who are struggling and looking for help,” Hines says. “We need to create a native mobile app that will allow students, regardless of means, to still connect to get the help they need.”What do you think?

The Duke University law and business school grad first experienced the dropout phenomenon in high school in the small town of Albany, Ga. There weren’t tutors, coaches and counselors available to help struggling students. As an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, he started a tutoring and mentorship organization for the local community. And as a law student, he started a law review focused disparities in education around the country.

For more details, read the full story at ExitEvent.