Wednesday afternoon, the UTEP Athletic Department announced the ‘UTEP Athlete Network,’ an online community for current and former student-athletes, in a new partnership with Grafted, an ed tech company based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Through the partnership, UTEP Athletics will be able to leverage the company’s video-first technology platform to help fulfill key athlete outcomes such as preparing current and former student-athletes for careers after college, caring for student-athlete well-being and engaging UTEP Athletics alumni.
“Our decision to build the UTEP Athlete Network represents a major investment in teamwork, a core value every Miner athlete knows well,” Director of Athletics Jim Senter said.
“We are stronger and more innovative when we work together. With the Network, we’re able to harness the power of Miner alumni nationwide to create more opportunities and to create meaningful community. Former Miner Athletes work in industries and companies across the country, and now we have a community where they can connect with each other and with current student-athletes over the work they’re most passionate about.”
Grafted’s technology platform enables UTEP Athletics to provide the UTEP Athlete Network to its current and former student-athletes as well as employer partners. The Network integrates greater access to both career exploration and career opportunities for all UTEP student-athletes.
By investing in the UTEP Athlete Network app, UTEP Athletics plans to leverage the power of its nationwide alumni network to help current and former student-athletes find rewarding careers in life after sports, while also connecting Miner alumni with each other and empowering them to play a more active role in the athletic department.
“Every member of the Athletic Department staff is passionate about our athletes’ lifelong success,” Senter added. “The Network app combines our care for our athletes with an engaging video app and then adds in the knowledge, influence and support of the Miners alumni community. The result is a dynamic community that equips current athletes and affirms former athletes.”
Despite only launching in March of 2020, Grafted is quickly being adopted by forward-thinking athletic departments across the country, including those in the Big 12, Big 10, SEC and Conference USA.
Life in the UTEP Athlete Network App
In the UTEP Athlete Network app, current and former UTEP student-athletes have access to hundreds, and soon to be thousands, of on-demand videos, produced by Miner alumni. Students can then easily move from content to connection via in-app direct messaging, giving them unprecedented ease of access to UTEP alumni who are eager to help their fellow Miners pursue careers. The Network also connects Miners with UTEP’s influential employer partners, providing these partners a pipeline of student-athletes to engage with.
The Athlete Network app utilizes the Grafted technology to supercharge the work of the UTEP Life Skills program, allowing that center’s staff to effectively serve 100 percent of UTEP student-athletes. Like a personalized career concierge, the Grafted technology algorithmically curates relevant career content and helpful connections for each athlete. As UTEP staff see student activity on the app, they are able to connect students with relevant opportunities.
“The Athlete Network app takes career collaboration to a whole new level, and our athletes and alumni are going to really enjoy using it,” Chelsea Popplewell, Director of Student-Athlete Development, said. “Think TikTok meets career preparation. And the best part is, it allows our athletes to really uncover their career interests and pursue them. As a former athlete myself, it’s the kind of tool I wish I had had access to early in my career.”
Content on the Athlete Network app is automatically tagged and organized based on its subject matter, which further allows Popplewell and her team to create custom student-athlete experiences. The Network is a hub for valuable content on all of UTEP’s Athlete Outcome priorities, including:
- Financial literacy
- Alumni engagement
- Career readiness
- Brand building
- Diversity and inclusion
- Life skills
- Mental health
How the UTEP Athlete Network Works
UTEP Athletics is inviting Miner alumni to download the UTEP Athlete Network app and join the community. Popplewell and her team are adding current student-athletes to the app.
As each new user joins, they are invited to tell their story through several video prompts. They share about their UTEP experience, careers and how they can help others on the app. With each new video, the searchable database of career content grows. Popplewell’s staff in the Life Skills Center are inviting alumni to be part of specialized broadcasts, where they can field questions and speak in-depth on their areas of career expertise.
Each of their answers is then added to the app’s collection of career content.
When users log into the app, they see a customized feed of relevant Athlete Outcomes content based on their interests and previously-watched content. Like TikTok and other highly popular social media apps, the Athlete Network regenerates this feed to continuously display more and more relevant content.
Additionally, every piece of career content on the UTEP Athlete Network app represents an opportunity. The Network automatically recommends relevant connections, including UTEP employer partners, and the Network makes it easy to connect with those individuals. In other words, as students learn how to build their professional brands, they are empowered to leverage that brand where it matters most: to obtain meaningful career outcomes.
Together with Grafted and UTEP Athletics alumni, UTEP is propelling athlete outcomes forward and preparing all Miner student-athletes for life after sport
Download the UTEP Athlete Network app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.