Q. What problem is this program designed to remedy?
Success Boston is designed to double the college graduation rate for students from the Boston Public Schools, and to transform our city into a place where the assumption is that all students will earn a post-secondary credential. Success Boston is designed to ensure that we no longer focus solely on college access, but also on college success.
The initiative was launched in 2008 following the release of Getting to the Finish Line, a report of the Boston Private Industry Council and Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, funded with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Boston Foundation.
That report found that while large numbers of Boston Public Schoolgraduates go on to college, only 35 percent of BPS alumni from the Class of 2000 had earned a 2- or 4-year degree within seven years of graduating high school.
Q. Who proposed the plan and who are the participating partners?
After reviewing the data on college graduation rates, Mayor Thomas M. Menino challenged the city to double the six-year college graduation rate for the BPS Class of 2011, and increase by 50 percent the college graduation rate for the Class of 2009. The goal for the college graduation rate for the high school class of 2009 is to be 52 percent, and for the Class of 2011, 70 percent. The mayor convened a Success Boston Task Force to oversee the initiative, to ensure ongoing progress toward those goals, and to keep the student graduation rate data in the public eye. Task Force Co-Chairs President & CEO of the Boston Foundation Paul Grogan, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson and University of Massachusetts-Boston Chancellor Keith Motley, developed a plan to ensure that BPS students are getting ready, getting in and getting through college.
The Boston Foundation has committed $1,000,000 to support this initiative, and is helping to raise additional funds to support the program. The Boston Opportunity Agenda has endorsed Success Boston as one of its initial investments.
Q. What organizations manage its implementation?
The initiative is a partnership between the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools district, the Boston Foundation and the local higher education community, led by UMass Boston. In addition, six college access nonprofit organizations receive funding to provide direct student supports to BPS alumni in their first two years of college. Those organizations include ACCESS, the Boston Private Industry Council, Bottom Line, Freedom House, Hyde Square Task Force and TERI. Each of those organizations employ success coaches who provide mentoring and coaching support designed to help students as they begin their college careers.
Q. How do Boston Public School students enroll?
To enroll in Success Boston, students can apply online by completing a simple online application at the Success Boston website www.successboston.org, or they can contact ACCESS at 617-778-7195, X118. Space is limited, so students are encouraged to apply early.
In addition, high school students can ask their guidance counselors for information about the initiative and college students should inquire in the office of student support.
Q. What are the requirements for students to participate?
To participate, students need to be seniors or recent graduates of the Boston Public Schools. Specifically, the program targets first generation, low-income and minority students headed to local 2- and 4-year public colleges and universities, including UMass Boston, Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, Mass Bay Community College, as well as Benjamin Franklin Institute, Suffolk University and Northeastern University. This year, the initiative will be recruiting students from the BPS graduating Class of 2011.
Q. The high cost of college education is enough to dampen high school students’ motivation. What are the strategies to keep enthusiasm for college high?
All students are provided with an advisor on financial aid by ACCESS, which helps high school and college students to complete their financial aid forms and to understand the financial demands of college. This financial aid advice, and Scholar Dollars, help to ease the burden of paying for college.
Success Boston students have an opportunity to earn Scholar Dollars ($250.00) at the beginning of their first and second semesters of their first year in college. In order to qualify for Success Boston Scholar Dollars, students need to participate in summer academic preparation and year-round transition support activities, maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher and complete enough credits to be on track to graduate. This is a great way to keep students motivated to succeed, while helping them cover much needed expenses like textbooks.
Q. What is the curriculum of the program?
The Success Boston program is comprised of bridge supports during the summer after high school graduation, followed by ongoing transition support through the first two years of college. In the summer, coaches help students finalize college plans, navigate enrollment and registration, and prepare for college life through one-on-one advice and workshops. Students also receive help with finalizing and verifying financial aid applications. During the school year, Success Boston coaches connect students with resources on-campus and help students with personal or academic challenges that may arise. An important service is to help students choose a major and set goals toward their career path.