This Boston-based nonprofit pays former gang members to go to college

Founded in 2009, College Bound Dorchester is a Boston-based nonprofit that supports formerly incarcerated, gang-involved, or otherwise at-risk residents as they get an education, whether high school equivalency or a college degree. In 2016, the nonprofit launched Boston Uncornered, a program that pays a stipend to those former gang-involved students while they pursue their degrees and pairs them with mentors from the same neighborhood and, often, the same situations.

The nonprofit noticed that these students weren’t matriculating at the same rate as other students, partly because they needed financial support to be able to focus on school. But once they started providing a stipend, the matriculation rate to college immediately doubled from 35 percent to 70 percent. More than two-thirds of the participants continue with their college education each year—higher than the national persistence rate. The stipend—$400 a week while they’re in college for an associate’s degree—was a way to invest in these residents, who are all too often incarcerated or just ignored by society.

 Mark Culliton, founder of College Bound Dorchester, explains that the stipend is a way of saying “to these young people, often for the first time, ‘We believe in your goodness, we believe in your desire to make a positive choice, and we will give you the freedom, autonomy, and support to do that.’”

It seems to be working. Naomie Charles, a mother of two who had experienced homelessness and incarceration, the stipend has allowed her to focus on school without turning to theft just to get by. Now she is graduating with a degree from Southern New Hampshire University.

Unfortunately, coronavirus is making it extra hard for those being supported by College Bound Dorchester, but the nonprofit isn’t giving up in its supporting role. At the moment, it’s providing direct financial assistance to 125 families (though not all get the full stipend).

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This Boston-based nonprofit pays former gang members to go to college

Founded in 2009, College Bound Dorchester is a Boston-based nonprofit that supports formerly incarcerated, gang-involved, or otherwise at-risk residents as they get an education, whether high school equivalency or a college degree. In 2016, the nonprofit launched Boston Uncornered, a program that pays a stipend to those former gang-involved students while they pursue their degrees and pairs them with mentors from the same neighborhood and, often, the same situations.

The nonprofit noticed that these students weren’t matriculating at the same rate as other students, partly because they needed financial support to be able to focus on school. But once they started providing a stipend, the matriculation rate to college immediately doubled from 35 percent to 70 percent. More than two-thirds of the participants continue with their college education each year—higher than the national persistence rate. The stipend—$400 a week while they’re in college for an associate’s degree—was a way to invest in these residents, who are all too often incarcerated or just ignored by society.

 Mark Culliton, founder of College Bound Dorchester, explains that the stipend is a way of saying “to these young people, often for the first time, ‘We believe in your goodness, we believe in your desire to make a positive choice, and we will give you the freedom, autonomy, and support to do that.’”

It seems to be working. Naomie Charles, a mother of two who had experienced homelessness and incarceration, the stipend has allowed her to focus on school without turning to theft just to get by. Now she is graduating with a degree from Southern New Hampshire University.

Unfortunately, coronavirus is making it extra hard for those being supported by College Bound Dorchester, but the nonprofit isn’t giving up in its supporting role. At the moment, it’s providing direct financial assistance to 125 families (though not all get the full stipend).

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