NoelaniMeet October’s alumna spotlight, Noelani Guerrero!

Noelani D. Guerrero is currently a Human Resources Coordinator at Nutter McClennen & Fish, LLP. She received her B.S. in Communications and Human Development from Boston College in 2007. Her goal is to continue working in the Human Resources field as a Generalist and ultimately a Manager. Noelani was born and raised in Boston and enjoys staying involved in community service. She currently serves on the Bottom Line Alumni Board and volunteers with the Hyde Square Task Force College Bound Mentoring Program. At some point, Noelani would like to go back to school and earn a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management.

High School: West Roxbury High School

College: Boston College

Graduation Year:

Job: HR Coordinator Nutter

Bottom Line Memory: Go Far Dinner my senior year of college where I had made a connection with Eastern Bank employees and later got one of my first jobs out of college with them.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with: Hand Sanitizer and Chap Stick (can never get enough), healthy snacks, chocolate, pens & pencils (that always manage to get lost), and a quote of encouragement.

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: The staff and supporters made a huge impact on my college application process and beyond. 

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: Stroll at parties with my sorority sisters….(I still do on occasions!)

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: Not being a student! No more early classes, homework, midterms or finals – although that prepared me for the real world experience, so I’m grateful for it.

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: Finding a job that you like, with a company that you like where you can grow and see yourself long term. 

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by…. I supported the Rodman Ride by donating $100 dollars of my own money and fundraising another $500; join me and donate today!


Philistin, Johanne Meet July’s alumna spotlight, Johanne Philistin!

Johanne graduated with a B.A. in Accounting from Northeastern University in 2010. She is originally from Haiti, and moved to Boston ten years  ago. She is currently a Staff Accountant at Industrial Economics. Her goal in the next few years is to go to graduate school and get a CPA license. Johanne currently resides in Hyde Park where she enjoys riding her bike.


High School: Hyde Park High School

College: Fisher College & Northeastern University

Graduation Year:

Job: Junior Accountant

Bottom Line Memory: The first time I met Dave, I remember him trying to reiterate the fact that the service was free and I thought it was a sales pitch just to get me to sign up. Little did I know the service was, in fact, free.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with:
Starbucks gift cards and Kit Kats

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: They supported me through college, and now it’s my turn to support them.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: Do ballroom dancing. ( I wasn’t a pro or anything, but I wasn’t bad either.)

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: No homework! (Just kidding). Working in my field and putting all of that theory into practice.

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: Loan repayment  

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by…. Joining me on the Rodman Ride or supporting me by going to my fundraising page to contribute!

On September 28th I will be riding 25 miles in a non-competitive ride to support Bottom Line. I ride with Bottom Line because I want those college students to have the same opportunity that I had as a Bottom Line student. I was in their shoes not too long ago, and I know what it feels like to want to walk across that stage and receive that diploma. I believe Bottom Line can help them achieve that goal, and I want to contribute to their success and be part of their journey.

Deb blog picSupporting students through the financial aid process has always been an integral part of Bottom Line’s services. Each January and February, counselors are busy meeting with students to submit their FAFSAs (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and CSS Profiles, and sometimes additional verification materials to make sure that they secure financial aid awards from their schools.

Here in New York, though, things look a little different. There’s a state-wide college access program in which all public colleges and many private colleges participate, collectively referred to as “Opportunity Programs.” The program was developed by the state legislature in the 1960s to provide access to higher education for the “educationally and economically disadvantaged” students in New York State. The great news is that this gives many Bottom Line students the chance to be admitted to colleges where they otherwise might not get accepted to because of grades and test scores.

The other part of this process, however, is that before students can officially be admitted to one of these Opportunity Programs, they must provide financial verification to prove that they are in fact “economically disadvantaged.” For some students, this process is pretty straightforward. They get their parents’ tax forms, fill out some paperwork, and send them off.

However, for those of our students who have more complicated family situations or whose parents receive public benefits, verifying family income becomes a much more complex process. We are coaching students to compile a whole host of financial documents that they have never heard of before. We are tracking down 1099s and W-2s from agencies and employers; we are helping students find a notary to sign their non-tax filer form; we are on the phone with families to compile all sorts of legal and financial documents.  Plus, spaces in these Opportunity Programs fill up on first-come, first-serve basis, so time is of the essence.

Financial aid can often be a frustrating and time-consuming process.  More importantly, financial aid is a critical piece of our students’ future success.  When all the pieces come together after a lot of hard work, it is fulfilling to see students get accepted to great colleges and receive the financial aid they deserve.

– Deborah Steinberg

Bottom Line Counselor

New York

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Richard Pierre is a recent graduate from Bentley University (Class of 2011), with a B.S. in Marketing and a minor in Finance. He currently works as a Finance Specialist at the Boston Consulting Group. He is originally from Boston, MA and currently resides in the city. He enjoys playing basketball, football and dominos. However, he enjoys hanging out with friends, traveling and playing videogames on his downtime. His plan is to develop his career in the finance industry and build his network in the business world. He is also passionate about supporting his friends and family whenever they are in need.

High School: Boston Latin Academy

College: Bentley University

Graduation Year:

Job: Finance Specialist at the Boston Consulting Group

Bottom Line Memory: Summer 2007, freshman farewell party

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with:
Airheads and Laffy Taffy’- and some winter gloves.

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: Bottom Line instills positive values in young individuals, and that’s something I will always respect.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: Watch “Dawson’s Creek”.

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: That you can go out on the weekends, and not have to worry about homework that needs to be done on Sunday.

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: Knowing that you can’t use the “I’m in college” excuse anymore…

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by: Staying involved, attending the events, spreading the word about the organization to those around you, and donating if you can. (Learn more about care package sponsorship here: )

Earlier this month, students, staff, volunteers, supporters, and corporate and community leaders gathered at The Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston to celebrate 15 years of helping students get into college, graduate from college, and go far in life. College students Yaritza Peña, Melissa Peña, Julie Rorie, and Joe Rowell spoke of the challenges that they have overcome to succeed in college and their experiences growing up in Boston and participating in Bottom Line. Bentley University President Gloria Larson reminded us of the need for a college-educated workforce and the benefits of providing services to students on campus. The event also honored USA Funds CEO Carl Dalstrom for his ongoing commitment to low-income and first-generation students; Senior Vice President of Access and Outreach Bob Ballard accepted an award on Dalstrom’s behalf. Because of the generous support from the attendees and sponsors, $550,000+ was raised to help low-income and first-generation students complete a college degree. Thank you to everyone who continues to provide students from our community with the guidance they need to reach their full potential.

As part of the event’s programming, we presented this video, which shares some students’ thoughts and experiences about college and Bottom Line.

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Last week, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the recipients of mini grants distributed through the Cure Lounge Settlement Supporting African-American Students Seeking Higher Education. At the Freedom House in Dorchester, AG Coakley was accompanied by Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley, Chairman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Julian Tynes, members of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, and representatives of the recipient organizations, including Bottom Line’s Executive Director Greg Johnson and Director of Development Mike Wasserman (above). See more photos of this event>>>

$28,500 in total was awarded to Bottom Line, the Freedom House, Cambridge College, and the United Negro College Fund. These grants will support the organizations’ efforts to serve college-bound students in Boston and Worcester, specifically the provision of direct scholarships, college counseling services, assistance with college applications and financial aid, and college preparatory classes.

The grants are part of a settlement that the MA Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division reached with Paige Hospitality, Inc. after an incident that occurred at the Cure Lounge in Boston last fall.

Read more about this settlement>>>
Read more about this grant initiative>>>

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Ernest J. Newborn II, chairman of the USA Funds board of trustees congratulates Greg Johnson, Executive Director of Bottom Line

If you haven’t heard yet, Bottom Line was recently selected as the winner of a national competition for a $1 million award to support college success. Out of the 51 applications they received from across the country, USA Funds decided to present Bottom Line with the Trustee’s National Award for College Success. The award was created to “advance the complementary national goals of increasing the percentage of American adults with college degrees to 60 percent by 2025.”

Last week, USA Fund’s staff and board traveled to Boston to announce the award, with Bottom Line staff, students, and board members also in attendance. Ernest J. Newborn II and Greg Johnson (above) both spoke about the need for programs that help students succeed in college and how Bottom Line and USA Funds will work to meet those needs. Javier Hernandez, a graduating senior at UMass Boston and active participant in Bottom Line’s College Success Program, was able to share how Bottom Line has affected his life.

The generous grant will be paid to Bottom Line over the next three years; it will ultimately help Bottom Line replicate the College Access and College Success Programs in New York City and expand to serve 3,200 students annually across Massachusetts and New York by 2015.

Our staff and students are very grateful to our supporters (that means you!) for helping Bottom Line reach this exciting point in our growth and success. Because of your belief in our mission, we will continue expanding to help more students reach their full potential.

It’s official: Bottom Line has an Executive Director for our New York City site, which will launch in July 2011. Ruth Genn, currently the Director of the College and Career Pathways unit at New Visions, brings Bottom Line:

  • a familiarity with NYC’s education environment
  • a knowledge base of the challenges NYC students face
  • the leadership, experience, and drive to combat the staggering college retention problem
  • a dedication to evaluation and data analysis for measuring the success of programs and policies
  • an understanding of today’s urban education issues from a teacher’s, policymaker’s, and program director’s perspective

As head of Bottom Line’s new site, Ruth will reach out to local schools and youth-serving organizations that serve students who would benefit from Bottom Line’s programs. She will lead a college counseling staff of three through the training and implementation of Bottom Line’s support services. She will research and connect with local colleges that will most likely enroll our students. And she will spread the message that helping students simply “get in” is not enough.

With Ruth’s leadership, Bottom Line will replicate our college retention model in NYC and show that the success of any student is possible when he or she is given the guidance and support needed to earn a degree.


About Ruth Genn
Ruth Genn is joining Bottom Line as the Executive Director of the newly opening NYC office. Previously, Ruth worked at New Visions for Public Schools, where she launched and directed the College and Career Pathways unit. As the department’s director, Ruth oversaw the development of New Visions’ college readiness platform, a set of research-based benchmarks that articulate what students should know and accomplish during each year of high school to be prepared for post-secondary success. She also managed the cultivation of partnerships that brought resources and supports to New Visions schools. Prior to this role, Ruth created New Visions’ first data unit, where she developed an early warning system and a set of tools that help school leaders, teachers, students, and families track students’ progress toward graduation.

Before joining New Visions in 2005, Ruth worked in City Hall on the integration of after-school services across several NYC agencies. She has experience in K-12 education policy at the local and state level, and began her career as a NYC public school teacher. Ruth holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University. She grew up in Tenafly, NJ, and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her family.

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The Social Innovation Fund has become the focus of a lot of attention recently. This $50 Million initiative, approved as part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, has created an opportunity for organizations to access significant government funding and publicity if they have innovative and effective programs. It just so happens that Bottom Line does have innovative and effective programs, and so for the first time, we find ourselves pursuing public funding.

In the past, we have been happy to entirely fund our programs from private sources. We stayed away from public funding because the opportunities were almost always either too focused or too broad, and they came with strings attached that would have forced us to change our programs. But now, this fund isn’t looking to restrict what programs are doing. Instead, they are looking to take good ideas and allow them to grow. It’s a whole new ballgame for public funding, and for the first time we feel like we have a chance. We have strong evidence supporting the fact that our programs make a significant difference in the lives of our students. We are focused on an issue that is gaining attention, but has far too few solutions being discussed. This is the right time for Bottom Line to gain a voice in the discussion about how to help students succeed at the national level.

The Social Innovation Fund would provide this opportunity. The funds are being distributed by intermediary organizations who are matching the government funding. We are in the process of applying to two of these organizations, New Profit and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. If we are chosen to receive either award, it would mean millions of dollars and invaluable publicity for our organization and our program model. This will be an incredibly rigorous and competitive process, and it feels like a long-shot because there are so many applicants and so few will be chosen. But, we are confident in our programs, their proven effectiveness, their ability to solve a national crisis, and so Bottom Line really does fit with the spirit and the mission of this fund. Hopefully we’re not the only ones who think so.

Mike Wasserman

Director of Development

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