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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Bottom Line Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Student Services

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.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

As a Bottom Line alum, I am both a client served and a volunteer. From both sides of the fence, it is a rewarding experience. Bottom line is the reason why I am where here today. They helped me from getting into college, graduating and finding employment. They know the real meaning of the word support: the counselors were always there for me financially and emotionally. They are very knowledgeable about the process and they are also very patient. I take part of their volunteer activities as a way to give back and help extend that same opportunity to other kids. Bottom Line is a one of a kind non-profit organization that helps high school students getting a college education for a better tomorrow.


Rating: 5

My counselor Ray was really helpful to me. I appreciate all the information he gave me and all the things he told me that I didn't know. I liked the fact that he is always positive and he always try cheering me up. Ray always told me to put positivity on all the negativity. Also he is not a boring counselor. He does his job and makes it fun. I am so glad I got into the program. I appreciate everything and the opportunity given to me. Thanks!


Rating: 5

Bottom line works with students to help them get into college, succeed while they are there and then start their careers. They provide an amazing support structure for these students and as a result have a high success ratio. All of their staff are dedicated to helping their students succeed.

I was a volunteer at the Rodman Ride for Kids and they provided an amazing amount of support to help me help them. I was able to ride with some of the students and it was one of the best experiences I have had. It was inspiring from all aspects.