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Boston Opportunity Agenda receives $150,000 from national nonprofit StriveTogether

Project will examine reasons why students 'stop out' of their college careers

January 29, 2019

Boston– The Boston Opportunity Agenda, a public/private partnership that strives to ensure that all of Boston’s children and youth are prepared to succeed in college, career and life, today announced it is receiving a nearly $150,000 grant from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids.

The funding will be used for research into the challenges facing college “stop-outs,” students who withdraw from college before receiving their degrees, to see what interventions might be put in place to improve persistence. Working in partnership with the Success Boston college completion initiative, researchers will use quantitative research, outreach and focus groups with students to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the reasons why students “stop out,” craft solutions that reduce the number of students taking time off and create better opportunities for students who have left school to return and complete their studies. The Boston Foundation, the Boston Private Industry Council, UMass Boston and its Center for Survey Research, and Bunker Hill Community College will undertake the research.

“The unfortunate truth is that today, if a student unenrolls from postsecondary education for any reason, it’s very likely that they won’t come back,” said Kristin McSwain, Executive Director of the Boston Opportunity Agenda. “Understanding what’s driving students to stop out and developing ways to bring them back or make it possible for them not to leave in the first place could have a major impact on college persistence and completion.”

The grant award is part of StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge, which seeks to create local change to enable economic mobility. The program’s goal is to strengthen and align the many systems, such as education, employment, health and housing, that shape opportunity for children and families in America.

Through the Community Challenge, up to $7 million over the next three years will fund projects across the country that advance equity and spread bold strategies to help students progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and a job.

The Boston Opportunity Agenda is one of 11 community-based organizations being supported with grants of up to $150,000 by the Community Challenge’s Promising Practices Fund, which is intended to find local projects applying bold strategies that can be spread across StriveTogether’s national network. These projects will focus on deeper community engagement and align education with other sectors such as health, housing and transportation.

StriveTogether also made 10 grants of up to $550,000 over three years through its Accelerator Fund to advance equity and systems change in communities that are close to achieving proof point, an important measure of progress along StriveTogether’s framework for cradle-to-career work. This initiative also combines an intensive leadership development program with targeted training and technical assistance.

Communities in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply for the Community Challenge.

“StriveTogether launched the Cradle to Career Community Challenge because we refuse to settle for a world in which a child’s ability to thrive is dictated by factors like race or income,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “From partners across the country, we know the urgency of this work and the value of creating lasting change in communities. We are proud to start this year supporting 21 cradle-to-career partnerships to get real results for youth and families.”

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The Boston Opportunity Agenda (BOA) is a public/ private partnership that works to increase dramatically the pace and scale of change in education for all children in Boston, with a focus on students who experience the least access to successful pathways. Our vision: All of Boston’s children and youth are prepared to succeed in college, career and life. We fervently believe that by combining our resources, expertise and influence around a single agenda, we will have a greater impact on Boston’s cradle-to-career educational pipeline.

The partnership is entering its ninth year and is governed by the CEOs of each member organization. Together they identify strategic issues facing our education pipeline in whole or in part, formulate the Boston Opportunity Agenda priorities and strategies, and provide a call to action for community stakeholders.

StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: help every child succeed in school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance. In partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.5 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 30 states and Washington, D.C.