DaVante Bonneau was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He graduated from the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice in 2011. He lives with his mom and younger sister, who are both very supportive of his goal to gain a higher education. DaVante is currently in his first year at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology (a.k.a. City Tech), which is located in Downtown Brooklyn near Bottom Line’s office. DaVante is interested in many fields, but is considering majoring in Anthropology.

DaVante has always been excited about going to college, so he was thrilled to be offered admission to City Tech. He says that it’s very motivating to be going through this experience with his friends from high school, who go to college throughout New York City and the state. His friends talk about how no one wants to be the one who doesn’t graduate on time, so DaVante makes sure to stay on top of his classes and reading assignments (something different from high school!). With that in mind, he is grateful for the support he’s gotten from Bottom Line’s New York staff so far. He says, “I would be more nervous and wouldn’t really have anyone to help me through questions I have.” DaVante especially appreciates the advice he received about how to save money by renting, as opposed to buying, textbooks for his classes.

During breaks, DaVante and his friends often come to Bottom Line’s office to study, work on projects, or just hang out and eat lunch. After only a few months, DaVante already considers Bottom Line’s New York office his “second home.”

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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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