Helping Boston's High School Grads Take the Next Step

It might be an ambitious goal, but The Boston Foundation is poised to reach it. By 2017, the foundation wants to double college completion rates for Boston Public Schools graduates from 35% to 70%. (See Boston Foundation: Boston Area Grants).

When the foundation announced 2013's first-quarter grants, the goal was a major driver of grant funding. Of nearly $30 million in grants, $850,000 was made in one-year grants available to six education organizations in the city.

All of grants were made through Success Boston, a partnership of The Boston Foundation (TBF), the city of Boston, the Boston Public Schools, UMass Boston, and many other state higher education institutions, with the shared goal of doubling college completion rates for Boston Public Schools graduate.

"We want to especially note the great work being done by all the partners in the Success Boston," TBF President Paul Grogran said in a press release for the quarter grants. "Success Boston is moving the needle when it comes to keeping students in higher education, and is worthy of continued investment."

This is the fifth year in a row that TBF has provided support for the program. 

"We are making sure that students are prepared to succeed in college, are admitted to college and are receiving the supports they need during college to earn a degree that equips them to enter the workforce," the foundation notes on their Success Boston page.

According to a report released by the foundation earlier this year, it appears the initiative is having a positive effect, as well. The report found that Success Boston students were 20-25% more likely to make it through their first two years of higher education compared to other BPS students. The biggest gains came for black and Latino students. (Read TBF education program director, Elizabeth Pauley's IP profile).

The program is also part of a much broader education strategy at the foundation.

It is just one of three education grantmaking initiatives for the foundation, which has focuses in college completion rates, structural reform of Boston Public Schools — a district that enrolls 80% of the city's students — and career advancement for low-income families. In the first quarter of 2013, other notable grants in education went to The Boston Plan for Excellence ($184,000) and the The Massachusetts Vision Project ($94,000).

The Success Boston College Completion Initiative began in 2008, following the findings of a study conducted for the Boston Private Industry Council and the Boston Foundation. The study showed that while Boston Public Schools had a great rate of college matriculation, students were still struggling to finish their college education, with just about 36% doing so within seven years.

Now, each year, the foundation provides $1 million in support to organizations that help students prepare, plan for,  and complete college, through Success Boston.

The program is also a special grant-funding initiative of the foundation, and "a significant amount" of foundation grants are "distributed through special initiatives, which seek to address a well-defined issue or need," according to the foundation. Another point to note for fundraisers: All special initiative grants are distributed through competitive Requests for Proposals.