It is no secret in today’s society that a college education is an essential ingredient for professional success.
The specific goal of College Bound Dorchester is to create a culture where it is expected that all students graduate from high school and college. By creating such a culture, the organazation is trying to transform neighborhoods, one student at a time.
This transformation has been in the works since 1965 when Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses (FDNH) was created and three settlement houses joined forces to provide education, human and social services throughout Dorchester neighborhoods.
FDNH was renamed College Bound Dorchester earlier this year because its mission evolved and now aims “to equip Dorchester students with the attitude, skills and experience to graduate from college.”
“It’s about serving a critical mass of students within a tight geographic area,” Mark Culliton, CEO of College Bound Dorchester said.
In FDNH’s 45-year history, as many as 25,000 students have taken part in the various programs — Early Education, Alternative Education and Adult Education.
College Bound Dorchester’s College Prep program provides services and the appropriate tools for those who have consistently been told they can’t achieve success and are incapable of reaching their dreams. College Bound Dorchester also offers a positive atmosphere for learning, something many students have said was lacking from their previous schools.
The College Prep program caters to 16-24 year olds who have left school and gives them the opportunity to complete their General Education Development (GED), go to college and then graduate from college.
“[We are] trying to use education as a means to change the culture and mindset of a population of people who have been grossly underserved for a very long time,” Ismail Abdurrashid, the lead educator at College Bound Dorchester told the Banner earlier this year. “A lot of students have been conditioned by failure.”
The process to obtain a GED takes approximately five months. While working toward obtaining a GED, a student will meet with a case educator to prepare college applications and financial aid forms. Case educators can often be seen out in the community recruiting young adults who qualify for the program.
“Our instructors know them and know where they’re coming from,” Culliton said. “And the students know that the instructors will do whatever it takes to make them successful.”
The role of a case educator does not end when the student receives a GED and gets accepted to college. The case educator remains with the student throughout the college years to provide a student with additional guidance and support.
Other forms of support at College Bound Dorchester include the Teen Leadership Group that was formed earlier this fall, LAUNCH and Art a la Carte. Students in the Teen Leadership Group are out on the streets actively recruiting their friends who may need additional assistance as they did.
The LAUNCH program focuses on youth ages 11-18. LAUNCH peer groups meet once a week with a mentor to ensure they are on the right path to a college education. Students are encouraged to pursue all the available resources presented to them through the program, at school and out in the community. There are opportunities for college prep classes, sports and recreation activities and leadership development.
For those who have expressed an interest in the arts, Art a la Carte is a program that connects students ages 11-18 with Boston’s arts community through a variety of classes, internships and field trips. Through this program, students are able to create and develop an extensive portfolio, which may qualify them for Advanced Placement credit. These classes are available at no cost and allow students to acquire practical experience.
“We have no question that any one of our students can be successful on a college campus with the right support,” Culliton said.
For more information about College Bound Dorchester, visit www.collegebounddorchester.org.