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Students thank Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his work with Success Boston

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Students thank Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his work with Success Boston
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino accepts a jersey signed by dozens of Boston Public Schools graduates now enrolled in college at the annual Success Boston kickoff at UMass Boston’s Clark Athletic Center. The number 70 signifies Mayor Menino’s goal of 70 percent college-completion among BPS students. (L-R) Tucker Gaye of Dorchester, a second-year student at UMass Boston; Annabel Cordero of Mission Hill, a senior at Emmanuel College; Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino; and Dr. Pam Eddinger, new president of Success Boston partner Bunker Hill Community College. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Mayor’s Office)

In honor of his work improving the college-graduation rate for Boston Public Schools (BPS) students, Mayor Thomas M. Menino was presented last week with a jersey signed by dozens of BPS graduates now enrolled in college.

The jersey, adorned with the number 70, was given to him by two members of the Success Boston Student Leadership Council at the event at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Clark Athletic Center. Menino’s stated goal is a 70 percent college-completion rate for the BPS graduating class of 2011 and beyond.

In 2008, Menino launched Success Boston, a key part of his effort to double the college-completion rate of BPS graduates to 70 percent, with support from the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Foundation, the UMass Boston, the Boston Private Industry Council and many other area nonprofits and colleges.

Success Boston students attend 36 Greater Boston colleges and universities. Each of the approximately 250-300 students from each Boston Public Schools graduating class who joins Success Boston is assigned a coach to help them meet the many challenges of college, providing critical support navigating academic settings, financial aid and other systems.

The coaching component plays a key role in efforts that begin during high school to ensure students “get ready, get in and get through” college.

The kickoff program featured workshops for the newest Success Boston students run by some of the Success Boston partner organizations, followed by speakers including Menino, UMass Boston Chancellor Keith Motley and Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul Grogan, the co-chairs of Success Boston.

Students also heard from Boston Public Schools Interim Superintendent John McDonough and Gary Uter, a 2013 graduate of UMass Boston from Dorchester and a former Success Boston student.

The speakers spoke about the importance of college completion in the 21st-century economy. “There are a lot of reasons to get over the finish line,” Grogan said. “There are 800,000 reasons — $800,000 is the difference in average lifetime earnings between someone who had some college but didn’t finish, and someone who got their degree.”

All the speakers noted the power of the Success Boston model, with its network of coaches, fellow students and alumni, to ensure that students get through to graduation.

“With students as smart, savvy and as talented as each and every one of you and as committed as you are to graduation, we know that you will achieve all your dreams and beyond,” said Motley. “And a team like this behind you is something you should never take for granted. Make sure you reach out.”

Menino was equally appreciative. “Out in this audience today, I see a Chancellor Motley, a doctor, an engineer — someone who could be the next mayor,” said Menino, who earlier chided the chancellor for not mentioning that Menino himself is a UMass Boston alumnus. “You can be anything you want to be because if you work hard, stay focused, you’ll get there — we’ll give you the tools.”

“No other city has this,” he added.