Success Boston is a college completion initiative dedicated to increasing the number of Boston Public Schools graduates who earn two- or four-year post-secondary credentials. This cross-sector collaboration between the Boston Foundation, City of Boston, Boston Public Schools (BPS), nonprofit organizations, and 37 local higher education institutions led by UMass Boston and Bunker Hill Community College, is focused on low-income, first-generation students of color.
The initiative was launched in 2008 in response to a longitudinal study by Northeastern University which showed that only 35% of those who had enrolled in college ever completed an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree by the time they turned 25. Success Boston aims to achieve a 70% six-year postsecondary completion rate among students who enroll in college. As of the Class of 2011, the postsecondary completion rate had risen to 52%. Today, 77 percent more BPS graduates are receiving postsecondary degrees than a decade ago.
Success Boston’s theory of change is that cross-sector partnerships, guided by data and mutual accountability, will significantly change the post-secondary trajectory for BPS graduates. Strategies within a “Getting Ready, Getting In, Getting Through, and Getting Connected” framework focus on improving academic preparation, providing transition coaching, and offering as-needed supports through higher education institutions until students successfully attain a degree prepared to enter the workforce.
A key component of Success Boston is the Boston Coaching for Completion transition coaching model. Nonprofit coaches are paired with a student, typically beginning in the senior year of high school and continuing through at least the second year of college. These coaches assist students in navigating the challenges that inevitably arise in the transition to and through college, helping students develop problem-solving skills and self-efficacy, connect to resources on and off campus, and build “college knowledge.” Originally Success Boston provided coaching to approximately 300 students from each class for their first two years of college. In 2015, Success Boston scaled this proven coaching model to serve 1,000 students per cohort (over 40% of BPS’s college-going population) with the support of a $6M Social Innovation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. All Boston graduates who attend community colleges will have the opportunity to receive coaching.
Focusing on students from the Boston Public Schools graduating classes of 2013 and 2014, a new report from Abt Associates finds that, compared their peers, students coached through Success Boston persisted at greater rates, achieved higher academic progress, and were more likely to take the necessary steps to maintain funding for college—all good signs of progress toward college completion. Specifically, coached students were 11 percent more likely than their non-coached peers to persist into the second year of college, 21 percent more likely to persist into the third year of college, and 9 percent more likely to renew applications for funding. Their GPAs were also 8 percent higher.
Support Join the Boston Foundation in matching the Social Innovation Fund grant one-to-one, as we scale this groundbreaking coaching model to support the youth of Boston in achieving the skills and degree necessary to enter the workforce poised to excel. Learn more about Success Boston and Boston Coaching for Completion at www.successboston.org.