Dropping out of high school often leads to a dead-end for young people. But the future is looking up for some former students now being offered a second chance from a Boston organization.
Paul Burns spent time in jail on a gun charge at age 17. College Bound Dorchester gave the 24-year-old another chance and even a job.
"It's been keeping me constructively prepared for the world and working everyday and going to school everyday," Burns said. He told necn he wants to be a social worker, to help kids not waste time and throw away years.
College Bound Dorchester purposely recruits staff members who have unconventional back stories. It's because program leader Kamau Parker served time for gang and drug activity that disenfranchised students are now willing to follow his lead, go back to school and get a legitimate job.
"I ended up going in and out of incarceration. Overall, I did 10 years in prison," he said. "They know that if I'm following a certain rule, it'll be easier for them to digest it."
With a budget of $5 million, College Bound Dorchester provides 900 Boston youth as young as 3-months-old with daycare, intervention middle school services, and the Bridge to College program. Most of the program is privately funded.
"We can prove that if you take a young person from the corner and get them into and through college, there is about a half million dollars to the Commonwealth for each individual. So they are well worth the investment," said CEO Mark Culliton.
Program leader Parker shared his favorite success story of a young man who walked into College Bound Dorchester as a drug dealer and left as an electrical engineer with a degree from Benjamin Franklin.
"He graduated. Before he walked across the stage, they had offered a job for a company out of New York but had a place here. He was making $44,000 a year starting," Parker said. "That just you know... Those little victories make the non-victories make sense."
College Bound Dorchester is always looking for volunteers. If you're interested, click here.