Making the Grade: Success Boston

Boston's ongoing effort to achieve the highest college retention rate in the U.S.

UMass Boston junior Tucker Gaye frequently visits with his college coach, Tahina Barlatier. When they're together, their conversations span the gamut on anything; course work to financial aid and even personal matters are discussed.

"I see her as my motivating source on campus. Whenever I am stuck and I don't know what I should do next, I see Tahina and talk to her," Tucker said.

Tahina is a Success Boston coach. On a weekly basis, she and other coaches travel to several Boston institutions of higher education to mentor and advise roughly 300 former Boston Public School graduates.

"Our goal is to get them to graduate, so we really want to support them in anything that is going on in their lives," Tahina said.

This type of student-coach relationship stems from a 2008 college completion rate study conducted by the Boston Foundation. The study found that just 35 percent of Boston Public School graduates who began post-secondary education actually got their degree.

As a result, the city, BPS, the Boston Foundation, UMass Boston and a number of education partners launched a coaching program called Success Boston to change that.

Mayor Menino set a goal of 70 percent college completion for the BPS Class of 2011.

"I think we came up with something that was innovative and novel and we're getting some real results," Paul Grogan said.

While Mayor Menino's goal has not yet been acheived, since 2008, the BPS college graduation rate has been lifted to 49 percent, which is higher than the national average.

"There are two groups of young people, African American males and Latino males, that if you look nationally are having a particularly rough time completing college. This is having a tremendous impact on their retention," Grogan said. "But we are not satisfied, but it gives us confidence that we can continue to go higher."

"I always say every time I talk to my students I wish I had a coach when I was in college, because it really is an opportunity to speak to somebody who is readily available to you," Tahina said.

And it's for that reason, the Boston Foundation says the city of Boston aspires to be a national capital for college completion, a goal that will hopefully be achieved through Success Boston. 

Contact Us