First-Gen Chisme is a non-profit tech app that focuses on providing First-Generation, BIPOC, and Low-Income students with academic and financial resources to pursue post-secondary education.

Tell us more about your venture.

We provide school year-long content and mentorship on academics, scholarships, FAFSA, mental health and more. First-Gen students need 24/7 support to successfully guide them through their education. Based on our bottom up research, many First-Gen students do not know where to start when asking for help. They need accessible resources that help them feel supported within their institutions. We make sure to provide them with necessary mentorship, coaching, resources, and content to help enrich their post-secondary educational experience.

What inspired you to start First-Gen Chisme?

Nationally, 89 percent of Low-Income First-Generation students leave college within six years without a degree.  As a First-Gen student myself, I speak from personal experiences on the struggles that we face coming from under-resourced communities. Many Universities fail to acknowledge the extra support needed from First-gen students. First Gen Chisme believes that with access to direct resources, students would feel more supported and graduate their institutions with great success. 

Why is this problem important? 

This problem is important because it believes in the equal access for education to all students regardless of their backgrounds. First-Gen Chisme believes that when First-Generation students receive the needed support to successfully complete post-secondary education, this develops an inter-generational success with incoming students from marginalized communities.

Who is your target market?

The target market are students like me who are First-Generation, Low-Income, and BIPOC students interested in pursuing post-secondary education. 

How is B-Lab helping your venture develop?

B-Lab is preparing me with needed skills and knowledge towards pursuing entrepreneurship. As a current RISD student, I am very grateful to have help in regards to entrepreneurship and business which were motivators to help continue developing my venture. B-Lab has also connected me with great individuals and mentors that are willing to make First-Gen Chisme the best non-profit tech app that it can be. 

What is something surprising that has happened thus far?

Participating in B-Lab, I have been surprised by how easy it was to build community among the cohort of students and faculty. At first, I was a bit nervous about being the only RISD student in the cohort but B-Lab has been very supportive and it has been truly a pleasure being a part of the community.

If you could, what would change about the First-Gen College experience?

If I could change anything about the First-Gen College experience, I would like to bring direct institutional attention to BIPOC, Low-Income, and First-Generations studying at predominantly white and prestigious institutions. I would make sure that they would have the necessary year-long academic and financial support that allows them to feel welcomed within their education. First-Gen students have to work many jobs to help support themselves which puts them to a disadvantage from the rest of their peers. Providing them with an equal toolkit from other non First-Gen students is very important. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you are interested in learning more about First-Gen Chisme please visit our resource website,,  or more updates on our tech-app and content. You can also find us on our social media on Facebook and Instagram, @firstgenchisme.

Leslie Ponce-Díaz is currently a First-Generation Mexican American student studying Architecture ‘23 at Rhode Island School of Design with a double concentration in Nature, Culture, Sustainability Studies and Theory and History of Art and Design. Leslie continues to explore her passions in architecture, community, and education through her involvement within RISD and First-Gen Chisme.