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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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.

A visit to Washington D.C. for the National College Access Network (NCAN) conference went from educational to exciting for our staff when Bottom Line was chosen as the winner of the 2010 College Access Organization Award of Excellence.  The announcement was made at the awards luncheon on Monday, October 11th by Kyle Malone, Senior Program Officer at USA Funds.  This was the 5th year of the award and it comes with a $5,000 Donation from USA Funds.

As just one of nearly 300 members in NCAN who represent a variety of programs and services focused on college access and success we are thrilled that our work with thousands of students in Boston and Worcester has been recognized so highly.   We believe that our model of one-on-one support is necessary to improve the low college graduation rates for our population of disadvantaged students.  Currently we have a college graduation rate of 73% and we are on track to make it even higher.

From start to finish, the underlying theme of the conference was persistence through college.  Many of the sessions and the key note speakers, Jim Applegate of the Lumina Foundation and Martha Kantor, the under-secretary of Education focused on this issue in their remarks.   Because Bottom Line has been focused on college graduation since our inception we are hopeful that our selection as the winner of this award will further demonstrate that “getting in” is not good enough.

Thank you to the committee of voters from around the country who selected Bottom Line! We are honored by our selection and look forward to living up to the high standards this award represents.

Greg Johnson
Executive Director

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