CHARLOTTE – A Charlotte consulting firm is launching a new program with a non-profit in D.C. to help more low income students graduate from college.

Schermbeck Consulting already works with education groups across Charlotte to improve economic mobility in education, and now the local firm will be in the national spotlight.

Greg Schermbeck was the first in his family to go to college and he says it wasn't easy.

Then after teaching at West Charlotte High, Schermbeck says he saw the greater need to help more low income students get to college.

"There's a need to better support students in the process of college readiness and how to get to college, and how to make sure once they get to college, how to graduate,” said Schermbeck.

His consulting firm just launched a 3-year pilot program with Collegiate Directions Inc. or CDI, a non-proft in D.C. that's already helping more first-generation low income students go to college.

"I can't reiterate enough how much it meant to have Greg Schermbeck's help in developing the solid business plan that allows us to move forward with this work,” said Rachel Pfeifer, president of CDI.

Pfeifer says their work is already proving successful in a few D.C. schools.

She says nationwide, only 9 percent of low income students enrolled in college will graduate, but 97 percent will graduate with her non-profit's assistance, which includes helping students apply, get into college, and find the best financial aid, starting with students in their sophomore year of high school through college.

"Make sure that we're helping them graduate without huge amounts of debt so they can jump right into the work force, so they can be able to contribute to our communities,” said Pfeifer.

Now Pfeifer says CDI will expand its services to more schools across the country all with the help of Schermbeck in Charlotte.

"We think it puts Charlotte on the map for the good work we're doing here and good work we'll do down the road,” said Schermbeck.

The pilot program begins in January.