Mission: Bottom Line was founded to address the low college graduation rates among disadvantaged urban youth. Our services aim to help low-income and first-generation students “get in to college, graduate from college, and go far in life.” We achieve this mission by providing students with consistent, one-on-one support from college applications until college graduation.
Results: 98% of high school seniors have been accepted to college and 80% of college students have graduated in 6 years or less.
Target demographics: low-income & first-generation college-bound students (ages 17-23) from Boston & Worcester, MA, & New York City
Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,925 high school and college students
Geographic areas served: Boston and Worcester, MA; New York City
Programs: College Access Program: Students begin working with Bottom Line during their junior or senior year of high school. At first meetings, students discuss their interests, aspirations, academic history, and family circumstances with a Bottom Line counselor. Once students commit to our program, counselors help them navigate every step of the college application process. While the specific services Bottom Line provides differ to suit individual needs, our counselors typically help students in five areas: college lists, essays, applications, financial aid, and making a college choice. Counselors build a strong relationship with each student during regularly scheduled one-hour meetings, which allows them to support students through any obstacles that arise during the application process. When college acceptance and financial aid award letters arrive in the spring, Bottom Line helps each student review their options to select a college that best suits their academic, financial, and personal needs.
College Success Program: After college decisions are made, students who elect to attend a “target school” are invited to join the College Success Program. A target school is one of 19 Massachusetts colleges that a large percentage of our students attend. As a first step to succeeding in college, students participate in transitional programming during the summer before their freshman year. Counselors work with students in groups and individually to prepare them for the academic rigor and cultural shock of college. This programming includes several workshops and events, as well as enrollment assistance, financial aid advising, and general problem solving during individual meetings.
Once students arrive on campus, Bottom Line becomes a financial aid advocate, academic advisor, career counselor, and mentor. We offer consistent support to students in four areas: Degree, Employability, Aid, and Life (DEAL). Assisting our students in earning a degree means helping them select a suitable major, monitor their academic progress, develop strategies to improve their performance, and connect with tutors, advisors, and on-campus resources. We assist students in renewing financial aid annually, but also help year-round to resolve problems with tuition bills, determine how to pay balances, and encourage appropriate decisions that will allow students to avoid excessive debt. Additionally, Bottom Line helps students secure internships and part-time jobs, create and update their resumes, and build a unique brand that will allow them to leave college employable. Lastly, Bottom Line offers parent-like guidance and mentoring. The strong relationships counselors maintain with students enable our organization to offer consistent support and help students through unexpected obstacles, such as illness, pregnancy, debt, a death in the family, academic probation, or transferring to another college. This comprehensive support is provided for up to six years or until a student graduates.