Success Boston Events

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Event Recap

On June 1, 2016, Success Boston held a graduation celebration to recognize the tremendous accomplishments of Boston Public Schools alumni who had earned postsecondary credentials in the 2015-2016 academic year. More than 100 students, coaches, partners, donors and other members of the Success Boston community gathered at the Boston Foundation for this special event. After attendees had the opportunity to enjoy conversation and delicious food from Roxbury’s Fresh Food Generation, they heard from Success Boston Co-chairs and recent graduates.

Paul S. Grogan, President & CEO of the Boston Foundation, kicked off the evening with a reflection on the remarkable progress the city has made in college completion, and congratulating the students. Following Grogan, Claudia Torres, a recent graduate of Bunker Hill Community College who worked with the Boston Private Industry Council, and Jasmine Boyd Perry, a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston who worked with Bottom Line, shared their stories of  challenge and success. The graduate speakers were followed by Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tommy Chang, who recognized the young men and women for setting a college-going precedent for current BPS students. Chang also spoke to the work that still needs to be done to make postsecondary success a possibility and reality for all.  Read brief biographies of the speakers and emcee.

After the speaking program, Eric Esteves, Director of Success Boston’s Social Innovation Fund, called each of the graduates to the front of the room where they received engraved Success Boston business card holders as a gift of congratulations. Esteves also presented the first-ever Coach of the Year award, which recognizes Success Boston coaches whose commitment to their students. The co-awardees, selected by students from the Success Boston community, were Barbara Cullen Lopez of Freedom House, and Joel Mora of Hyde Square Task Force.

The recent graduates brought the initiative’s impressive graduation statistics to life and left the Success Boston community with a renewed sense of commitment and energy as the initiative enters its 8th academic year. We are deeply grateful to everyone who joined us and made this memorable evening possible. Please find videos and photos from the event below.

-Written by Mena Majeed, Success Boston Student Leadership Council Member


Speaking Program


Photo Credits:
Abdullahi Hussein, University of Massachusetts Boston, Freedom House Makiz Nasirahmad, University of Massachusetts Boston, Bottom Line

Video Credits:
Hans Elmidor, Bunker Hill Community College, Vision to Images

Success Boston Kick-Off Motivates and Inspires Students

On August 26th, Success Boston hosted its annual college kick-off event at Bunker Hill Community College. The kick-off sends the Success Boston community into each fall semester with a renewed sense of camaraderie and energy towards college completion for Boston’s students. Over 200 students and partners from Boston’s colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations and government were in attendance to show support for the initiative as it enters its 7th year.

At this year’s event, graduates of Boston’s public schools had the opportunity to connect with one another and participate in workshops led by the initiative’s transition coaches. Success Boston’s transition coaches work closely with students throughout their first two years of college to ensure they are successfully meeting college’s academic, financial and social challenges, and staying on a path toward earning a college degree and pursuing a prosperous career. 

“When I started college it wasn’t easy. I felt new and unprepared,” said Teresa, one of the student emcees for the evening. In her first year at Bunker Hill Community College, Teresa was paired with Annabelle Rosario, a transition coach from the Boston Private Industry Council.

“Now I feel like I am more independent,” proclaimed Teresa, who completed her associate’s degree at Bunker Hill and will transfer to UMass Boston this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree. “Annabelle helped me become who I am today.”

Annabelle, who has been a Success Boston coach for over two years, described how she motivates and empowers students like Teresa.

“I tell them not to give up – that they’re going to face hurdles and obstacles, but that I am always going to be a support system for them,” she said.

Throughout the evening, speakers Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation; Dr. Tommy Chang, Superintendent of BPS; Jermaine Wiggins, Former New England Patriot and BPS Graduate; Dr. Keith Motley, Chancellor of UMass Boston; and Dr. Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College, offered words of insight and inspiration.

“Success Boston has always been about getting Boston Public Schools graduates over the college finish line,” said Paul S. Grogan. “Studies show that young adults who complete college have an exponentially greater chance at long-term financial and career success than those who don’t.”

“The journey may look a little different for each of us, but what matters is that you reach the same goal and stick with it until you finish college,” added Wiggins, a 1993 graduate of East Boston High School who earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia.

This year’s event also celebrated a new student cohort that has more than tripled in size from previous years. Success Boston’s new cohort will consist of 1,000 students, thanks to a $2.7 million grant the initiative received from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) last September. Through the Boston Foundation, the SIF grant has been distributed to nine of the city’s nonprofits to support the funding of new coaches and programs, expanding the initiative on a massive scale.

The 2015 kick-off was a great way to send off the Success Boston community into another year of the initiative that continues to work toward setting a college-going precedent for future generations of Boston students.

“Success Boston is charting a clear path to life-long success for Boston’s young people,” said Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education for the City of Boston and member of Mayor Marty Walsh’s cabinet.

“Through Success Boston, I can see the future in our students,” added Dr. Pam Eddinger.


The Boston Foundation Announces 2015 Social Innovation Fund Success Boston Coaching for Completion Grants

John McDonough, Interim Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools and incoming Superintendent Tommy Chang joined some 100 others for the announcement of nine grants awarded by the Boston Foundation as part of Success Boston’s Coaching for Completion Program on April 13, 2015.  The grants, totaling $1.6 million, are drawn from a $2.7 million investment in the Boston Foundation by the Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF).

“This is a great day for Boston because we’re announcing an increase of a successful program said Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul S. Grogan.  “Our goal is to make Boston the college completion capital of America.”

The Social Innovation Fund awarded its grant to the Boston Foundation in Washington D.C. last fall to help grow the impact of Success Boston as an innovative, community-based solution that has presented compelling evidence of improving the lives of low-income people.  The grant allows Success Boston to expand from serving 300 students to 1,000 students annually. 

Success Boston graduate Felix Tejeda was master of ceremonies for the awards, saying that he received a degree in finance from Suffolk University after transferring from Bunker Hill Community College and will be starting a job at BNY Mellon soon—and that he is the first college graduate in his family.  “The slogan for Success Boston is to “get ready, get in, get through and get connected,” he said, adding, “For myself, I can say ‘check, check, check, check’!” 

Success Boston coach at the Hyde Square Task Force, Joel Mora, and student Astrid Pena-Montero shared their story of working together – beginning with Astrid being unsure about college and ending with her enrollment in Roxbury Community College’s nursing program and achievement in making the Dean’s List, with plans to obtain her bachelor’s degree.

The organizations receiving grants are the Boston Private Industry Council, Bottom Line, College Bound Dorchester, Freedom House, Hyde Square Task Force, Match Beyond, Sociedad Latina, Steppingstone and West End House Boys & Girls Club.

Success Boston was launched in 2008 by the City of the Boston, the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Foundation, the Boston Private Industry Council, UMass Boston and dozens of other Massachusetts colleges and universities.  It utilizes an intensive “coaching for completion” model that already has increased annual college persistence rates for students in the program. So far, more than 2,000 students from six graduating classes have been served and coached through Success Boston. The college graduation rate of Boston Public Schools graduates attending college has increased from 35 to 50 percent, with the Success Boston goal at 70 percent.  

Success Boston 2013 Annual Kickoff Event Honors Mayor Menino

Success-Boston Mayor MeninoBoston Mayor Thomas M. Menino was presented with a jersey signed by dozens of Boston Public Schools graduates now enrolled in college, in honor of his work improving the college graduation rate for BPS students, at the annual Success Boston Kickoff event at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Clark Athletic Center Thursday evening.

The jersey, adorned with the number 70 in honor of Mayor Menino’s goal of a 70 percent college completion rate for the BPS graduating class of 2011 and beyond, was presented to him by two members of the Success Boston Student Leadership Council at the event, which welcomed members of the BPS Class of 2013 to the program. 

Mayor Menino launched Success Boston 2008 as a key part of his effort to double the college completion rate of BPS graduates to 70 percent, with support from the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Foundation, the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Boston Private Industry Council, and many other area nonprofits and colleges. A report released in January found that the program had a measurable impact – raising persistence rates by 20 percentage points or more for some groups.


Success Boston students attend 36 Greater Boston colleges and universities. Each of the approximately 250 to 300 students from each Boston Public Schools graduating class who joins Success Boston is assigned a coach to help them meet the many challenges of college, providing critical support navigating academic, financial aid and other systems. The coaching component plays a key role in efforts that begin during high school to ensure students “get ready, get in and get through” college.

The kickoff program featured workshops for the newest Success Boston students run by some of the Success Boston partner organizations, followed by speakers including Mayor Menino, UMass Boston Chancellor Keith Motley and Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul Grogan, the co-chairs of Success Boston. Students also heard from Boston Public Schools Interim Superintendent John McDonough and Gary Uter, a 2013 graduate of UMass Boston from Dorchester and former Success Boston student.

Success-Boston student singerThe speakers highlighted the importance of college completion in the 21st century economy.  “There are a lot of reasons to get over the finish line.  There are 800,000 reasons,” said Grogan. “$800,000 is the difference in average lifetime earnings between someone who had some college but didn’t finish, and someone who got their degree.”
But all the speakers also noted the power of the Success Boston model, with its network of coaches, fellow students and alumni, to ensure that students get through to graduation. “With students as smart, savvy and as talented as each and every one of you are, and as committed as you are to graduate, we know that you will achieve all your dreams and beyond,” said UMass Boston chancellor Motley. “And a team like this behind you is something you should never take for granted. Make sure you reach out.”

“Out in this audience today, I see a Chancellor Motley, a doctor, an engineer – someone who could be the next mayor,” said Mayor Menino, who earlier chided the chancellor for not mentioning that Menino himself is a UMass Boston alumnus. “You can be anything you want to be because if you work hard, stay focused, you’ll get there – we’ll give you the tools.”

“No other city has this,” he added.

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