About Success Boston

Success Boston photo 1

Success Boston is Boston’s citywide college completion initiative. Together, the Boston Foundation, the Boston Public Schools (BPS), the City of Boston, 37 area institutions of higher education led by UMass Boston and local nonprofit partners are working to double the college completion rate for students from the BPS. Success Boston was launched in 2008 in response to a longitudinal study by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, which showed that only 35% of those who had enrolled in college ever completed an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree by the time they turned 25. Even as enrollment rates had steadily increased, completion rates had not. Together, the partner organizations implemented a four-part strategy: getting ready, getting in, getting through, and getting connected—to ensure our youth are prepared to meet the challenges of higher education and achieve a degree that will allow them to thrive in the workplace.

Social Innovation Fund Award

In October 2014, the Boston Foundation received a grant of $2.7M from the Corporation for National and Community Service to expand this effort. This Social Innovation Fund award gives the Foundation the resources necessary to expand Success Boston’s transition coaching model, Boston Coaching for Completion, from 300 to 1,000 students annually. Coaching primarily focuses on the non-academic challenges: financial need, personal and emotional support, career and life planning, and better use of existing academic supports on campuses.


Getting Ready: Increase the curricular rigor of high school, enhance college awareness and preparedness, and support overall college readiness, including social-emotional skills and abilities. The Boston Public Schools is the lead partner for getting ready, and is working to improve college advising and expand access to Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other rigorous courses that academically prepare students to meet the demands of college.

Getting In: Help students apply to, select, enroll in, and transition through the first two years at 2- and 4-year institutions of higher education. The Boston Foundation leads the getting in work, and supports a network of nonprofit organizations that engage and provide services to students, particularly first generation, low-income students of color.

Getting Through: Ensure students receive the supports necessary to earn a degree prepared to enter the workforce. Thirty-seven local higher education institutions committed to lead the getting through strategies, and have expanded campus-based supports for students.

Getting Connected: Engage employers in college completion efforts: with summer jobs, internships, career advising, and other opportunities that will expose students to employment pathways and new career fields. This is the newest strategy of Success Boston, and is led by the Boston Private Industry Council.

Financial Aid

Help students and families file FAFSA forms, incorporate financial literacy into the high school curriculum, simplify and standardize student award letters to enable cost comparisons, identify and make campus financial aid liaisons accessible, and advocate for additional need-based aid (see the College Support Services Spreadsheet)

College Friendly Employment - Aid career awareness and goal-setting using labor market data, secure work and internship opportunities that support persistence rather than challenging it

Student Transitions  – Connect with supports and resources on- and off-campus, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and financial aid process, learn time management to help balance school, work, and life, explore majors and careers

Curricular alignment - Implement Common Core and Massachusetts curriculum framework with rigorous content to reduce the need for developmental courses, revamp developmental education courses to expedite moving to credit-bearing courses, and conduct vertical teaming to align high school and college faculty expectations.


The Boston Foundation committed more than $1M per year for five years to this initiative, and today the six-year college completion rate stands at almost 50% for BPS graduates (Class of 2006). Nearly 2,000 Boston students have received coaching since 2009, and according to an early independent analysis, these students have persistence rates that are 15-20 percentage points higher than their peers.

Support Success Boston

Join the Boston Foundation in matching the Social Innovation Fund grant one-to-one, as we scale this groundbreaking coaching model to support the youth of Boston in achieving the skills and degree necessary to enter the workforce poised to excel. Learn more about Success Boston and Boston Coaching for Completion by contacting Laura McConaghy, Philanthropic Partnerships Officer, at 617.338.1612 or laura.mcconaghy@tbf.org.


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