Coaching for College Completion and Career Connection
For over a decade, the PIC has been coaching BPS graduates as part of the Success Boston college completion initiative. As students and colleges deal with the effects of the pandemic, PIC postsecondary coaches are helping students to persist academically, balance education and employment, and imagine a career path beyond college.
PIC postsecondary coaches help students navigate the transition from high school to college and make progress toward a degree and a career. Coaches connect students with college and community resources while providing them with guidance and support. Throughout the pandemic, coaches have connected with students over Zoom, providing moral support and helping them navigate financial aid, virtual classes, and the resources available to help them through COVID-related crises.
In the 12 years of the Success Boston initiative, Boston has made significant gains in college completion rates. 54% of first-year college enrollees from the BPS Class of 2013 completed a college credential within six years as compared to 40.6% for the Class of 2000. However, race-ethnic gaps in college completion rates persist. The PIC’s report on the BPS Class of 2011 found that college completion rates ranged from 42 and 43 percent for Black and Hispanic students to 66 and 74 percent for White and Asian students – a difference of 31 percentage points from highest to lowest.
In response to these inequitable outcomes for Black men and Latinos, the PIC is launching HOPE Forward, an Aspen-funded collaboration between the OYC and the HOPE Initiative (Halting Oppressive Pathways in Education) at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC). The collaboration builds on the Success Boston framework and focuses on outreach and coaching for young men of color, stopouts, students starting college late, and students transferring in from other colleges. HOPE student ambassadors will serve as peer mentors for these students and will provide additional guidance for the project.
The PIC’s vision for postsecondary success extends beyond college completion to early career. With new funding from the Salesforce Foundation, we have hired new staff members to provide career exploration and planning, as well as employment support, for current Success Boston students at BHCC. This added support will benefit both new students as they choose their majors and older students as they prepare for the transition from college to employment.
Bunker Hill Community College's HOPE Ambassadors
In early 2018, Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) launched the HOPE Initiative to examine and eliminate the social, institutional, and academic barriers that prevent males of color from achieving their full potential. Evans Erilus, the project’s executive director, was a part of the group of staff and students who had raised these concerns to BHCC upper administration in late 2017. For Evans, the initiative serves as a gateway to understanding students and their experiences, while providing a support system to help reframe their thinking and empower them at BHCC and beyond.
Asset-based and student-centered, the HOPE Initiative is run by a group of faculty, staff, and students. Among those students are HOPE Ambassadors David Timothy, Elyon Mark, and William Cook Fernandez, all of whom have shared experiences with the students they now help. As HOPE Ambassadors, these three Bunker Hill students work as a resource for a diverse group of other students, helping them navigate college life on and off campus.
Through its partnership with the PIC, Evans and his team are working on qualitative and quantitative data collection, analysis, and dissemination, as well as assessing and addressing gaps in college programs and services. Working with the Opportunity Youth Collaborative and PIC Youth Transitions Director Kathy Hamilton, Evans has adapted early intervention programs to scale up pathways for success and prevent students from dropping out of college. HOPE Ambassadors bring student voices to data committee meetings and other partner convenings. They conduct surveys and focus groups in an effort to provide the student perspective on issues that directly affect their lives.
Currently aimed at transforming inequitable systems and structures so that Black men and Latinos can thrive, the program aims to expand in the coming years to include women and other students of color.