Strengthening the education-to-career pipeline and pathways from early childhood through postsecondary completion 

We work to ensure that all Greater Boston residents can access the education and training they will need to remain in our region and succeed in their careers. 


Early Childhood

Early childhood offers a truly once-in-lifetime opportunity to launch young residents on a path to academic and life success. Efforts to support healthy development—from prenatal supports through access to high-quality pre-kindergarten—can help to ensure that children arrive at school ready to thrive.   

4-year-old concentrating on work with pencil

To this end, in 2017, the Boston Foundation launched its Early Childhood strategy, which strives to build broad awareness and understanding of the challenges and opportunities in early childhood; advocate for policy change; and contribute to building a shared knowledge base by investing in the data infrastructure and metrics. We will seek to partner with others to support scaling of proven programs and promising practices, and find innovative solutions to tackle longstanding challenges.

For an overview of the Boston Foundation’s Early Childhood strategy, click here.

K-12 Structural Reform

Our K-12 Structural Reform strategy works to drive decision making to the school level and unleash the creativity of educators—thereby boosting student success through increased access to high-performing schools.  Research and experience with Boston’s public schools, including BPS and Commonwealth Charter Schools, suggest that when principals and teachers have autonomy, they design schools that put students at the center. 

Elizabeth Pauley

Contact Elizabeth Pauley, Associate Vice President, Education to Career, to learn more about this work.

We believe expansion of autonomy, or site-based decision making, helps to create conditions that promote students’ academic achievement and readiness for successful post-secondary pursuits. 

Our work focuses on governance reform, systems change and school redesign:  

  • Expanding autonomies to schools inside the school district;
  • Expanding or importing innovation within the Boston Public Schools, including collaboration across schools, school type and design of new school models;
  • Supporting limited programming, including the Arts Expansion Fund and summer programming;
  • Research that reveals what’s working in high-performing schools and networks; and
  • Advocacy for policy changes that allow successful schools to proliferate, including removing barriers to expanding high-performing schools, including Commonwealth and Horace Mann Charter Schools.

The vast majority of our grant-making resources are devoted to supporting students who enroll the Boston Public Schools. 

The annual Pozen Prize for Innovative Schools at the Boston Foundation recognizes autonomous schools that consistently boost students’ achievements through innovative models, programs and practices.

Postsecondary Completion     

Now, more than ever, a credential beyond a high school diploma is required for individuals to access opportunity in our region. Knowing this, we work to increase the Postsecondary Completion rates for students from Boston. Our primary investment is in Success Boston, our city’s college completion initiative, which strives to double the number of students who earn a post-secondary credential within six years of graduating from high school. 

In addition, we support our state’s public higher education system, including system reform efforts to strengthen community colleges and better connect these vital institutions to regional employers.

Students and coaches discuss the Success Boston experience. 

Success Boston is Boston’s citywide college completion effort, which seeks to ensure that Boston public school graduates are getting ready, in and through college, and connected to careers. We support initiative-wide efforts with both staffing and grants; however, the bulk of our support focuses on the implementation of transition coaching, an intervention designed to support students as they move from high school through the first two years of their post-secondary program. In 2014, the Boston Foundation received a Social Innovation Fund grant to expand this coaching, which has been shown to increase student persistence and graduation rates. As a result, eight subgrantee organizations are coaching 1,000 students from each BPS graduating class through the Boston Coaching for Completion initiative: Boston Private Industry Council, Bottom Line, College Bound, Freedom House, Hyde Square Task Force, Sociedad Latina, Steppingstone, and West End House. Learn more about the Success Boston subgrantee organizations. In March 2017, we released a new Success Boston report, Power of Coaching, which shows that coaching BPS graduates through the initiative significantly improves their academic performance and persistence in college.