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About

College Bound Dorchester works to ensure that all students view success in college not just as a possibility in their lives but as a baseline expectation. Everyday College Bound Dorchester’s educators work with diverse populations between 3 months to 27 years of age, including at-risk youth, newly arrived immigrants and families struggling to provide educational support to their children.

In each program, College Bound Dorchester provides educational services to the under-served and lays the foundation for future academic, economic and social success. By providing a continuum of services, College Bound Dorchester ensures that no student gets lost on their path to higher education and that all students have the tools to realize their goals.

This work has the ability to not only increase the number of college graduates in Dorchester, but to also shift the community’s mindset about college. This shift, from one of limited possibilities to one of high aspirations for all, will ultimately have transformative impact on the community’s socioeconomic development. With an annual budget of $5.5 million and a staff of 80, College Bound Dorchester annually serves nearly 900 children, youth and adults.

Our Work

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The Challenge

Boston, like most urban cities, has neighborhoods that are stuck in challenges of poverty, violence and dysfunction – which encourage each generation to mirror the last. They remain impoverished for decades, unable to unlock the potential of individuals and the cities themselves. One major focus for change is education reform. But most of these efforts, like Charter schools, focus on students who need only a little help. At best, the results are better educated youth who can then afford to move out of their challenged neighborhoods to live in safer ones, leaving the dysfunctional areas stuck.

Our Approach

College Bound employs a place-based strategy to identify, engage and serve the most influential and disconnected youth. Doing this will create a shift in the system – moving from a small number of individuals in Dorchester that is college bound to a community where the majority are pursuing higher education. Further, when the few young people who are most disruptive are in college and on the path to success, they stop creating mayhem on our streets and no longer serve as a seductive force luring the next generation and continuing the cycle. As a community, our best chance of sustained change and widespread impact is to focus on those who are the biggest influencers – a ‘super user’ strategy.

The Work

College Bound will end the dysfunctional cycles in Dorchester by engaging the few young people who disproportionately disrupt Boston’s largest and most challenged neighborhood. With a mission to equip students with the skills, attitude and experience to graduate from college, we currently serve 900 students. Over the next five years, we plan to increase this number by 35% and quadruple the number of students matriculating into college.

Our focus is on two areas:

  1. Prevention: We identify and recruit families with children aged 0 to 12, who are especially at risk of not reaching post-secondary education, into our high quality pre-school and after school programs, ensuring that students enter and advance through school at or above grade level and entire families have the expectation of college.
  2. Intervention: We identify and recruit adolescents and young adults aged 14 to 27, who are disruptive and have dropped out, been pushed out or are in danger of dropping out of school into our college preparation programs. We use an intervention model that focuses on both skills and motivation working through a proved youth development framework that provides academic tutoring, mentoring and enrichment opportunities. Our educators are skilled at meeting these students where they are and leading them to a place they never believed they could be.

National Recognition

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  • College Bound Dorchester’s Bridge to College program was awarded the 2012 Honorable Mention in the Mutual of America Community Partnership Program. Through its Bridge to College program, College Bound Dorchester addresses the needs of students who have left high school prior to graduating. Bridge to College helps them re-engage with their education, earn their GED and prepare for college through various levels of support that include academic coursework, referrals to external support services, mentoring and job coaching.
  • Adolescent Development was recognized by Social Impact Research, a division of Root Cause, as one of seven high performing organizations for college access in Boston for its comprehensive approach to academic preparation and enrichment, college aspiration and knowledge, and financial aid and planning.
  • Art a la Carte was honored with the prestigious Coming Up Taller Award, presented by the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Performance Standards Report ranked the English for Speakers of Other Languages program advanced/exceeding standards for student goals achieved, the highest ranking for adult learner achievement.
  • Mark Culliton, College Bound Dorchester’s Chief Executive Officer, was recently recognized by Grand Circle Foundation as a Gutsy Leader, a title presented to impassioned leaders who have the greatest impact on their community. Read more about Mark’s inspiring leadership and the work of Grand Circle Foundation here.

Recent Accomplishments

The Adult Education program supported the economic self-sufficiency of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students by increasing the number of adults who are on-track to college. This academic year, 52% of ESOL students transitioned to the next course level.

The College Prep program offered youth who have already dropped out of school the opportunity to reengage with their education, attain their GED and prepare for success in college. This year, 96% of College Prep students reported an improved sense of self.

Teens in the Adolescent Development program received academic support during the evenings and weekends to ensure their academic proficiency in core subject areas and to increase their long-term investment in school. This year, 64% of Adolescent Development seniors enrolled in college.

In the Middle School program students who had previously been unable to complete their education due to delinquency or adverse conditions developed the skills to successfully transition back into high school. In FY11, 76.5% of Middle School students passed the English Language Arts test of the MCAS.

Out of School Time students participated in academic and social enrichment activities after school and during school vacation to ensure that they develop the academic, social and emotional skills to succeed in school. This year, 98% of Out of School students were promoted to the next grade level on time.