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Grants would aid new college students

To boost services to Hub graduates

By James Vaznis
Globe Staff / June 30, 2009
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More Boston high school graduates will receive extra help in college this fall as part of an effort to boost college completion rates among the city’s alumni.

The Boston Foundation is doling out $655,000 in one-year grants so six nonprofit groups can expand counseling and other services that they provide on college campuses to at least an additional 275 Boston high school graduates.

“The groups that are receiving the grants have a proven track record of increasing college graduation rates,’’ said Elizabeth Pauley, a senior program officer at the foundation.

Counselors at many of the groups work like a surrogate parent, helping students figure out problems with financial aid or with tuition bill payments or advising them on which courses to take. Some also offer students a crash course in what college life is like before students land on campuses in the fall.

Bottom Line, a 12-year-old Jamaica Plain nonprofit that helps students apply to and get through college, is receiving $60,000, which will be matched by an anonymous donor. The money will allow the group to boost its full-time counselors from 14 to 16, enabling it to serve 80 more students.

Greg Johnson, the group’s executive director, said the money is helping the group to proceed with expansion plans, previously put on hold because the recession slowed fund-raising.

“We are thrilled about the grants,’’ Johnson said. “The economy scared us a little bit.’’

Other groups receiving money are Access, Boston Private Industry Council, Freedom House, Hyde Square Task Force, and the Educational Resources Institute.

The grants are part of an annual $1 million commitment the foundation made toward Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s goal of doubling the city’s seven-year college graduation rate. The mayor is basing his goal on the Class of 2000’s rate of 35.5 percent, which was revealed in a report released last fall. The foundation intends to give out $1 million worth of grants annually for five years.