Boston is home to multiple college access and success organizations committed to improving college outcomes for Boston youth. Within this field, other than Posse, none support Boston’s high-performing low-income students of color in college, and none provide the intensive academic support of Noonan’s Summer Academy.
An Issue of Selectivity
The largest organization in this space is Bottom Line. In sharp contrast to Noonan’s program, Bottom Line’s college support program focuses on students who are at-risk of not going to or graduating from college. As a result, they only support students who go to one of 25 “commonly-attended regional colleges,” primarily including community, public, and mid-tier private colleges. While they do a fantastic job supporting these students, if high-achieving Boston students gain admission to schools like Harvard, Tufts, or Smith, or any school out of state, Bottom Line does not support them in college.
A Gap at the Top
Posse Boston serves higher achieving students who are more similar to Noonan Scholars, and has very impressive results, but their reach is limited. Each year they support just 60 students from the Greater Boston area who are required to attend one of six partner colleges – Bryn Mawr, Bucknell, Centre, Denison, Hamilton, and Union – where they receive on-going support as part of a ten-person “posse.” By contrast, Noonan Scholars plans to support hundreds of Scholars each year, and they are encouraged to apply to and enroll in any good-fit “selective college” offering strong financial aid.
A Consensus in the Field
In fact, those closest to this work – the former Executive Director of Bottom Line, the CEO of uAspire, and the former Program Director from Posse Boston – are all deeply involved in Noonan Scholars’ work because they recognize the large number of unserved, yet deserving low-income students of color, and the strength of our model to support them. The former sits on Noonan’s board of directors, and the latter two on its advisory board.
The question then of whether Boston needs Noonan Scholars does not boil down to the number of non-profits that exist, but rather whether there are students from this area who need support but are not getting it from Bottom Line, Posse, or other non-profits. The easy answer is YES.
For more on this question, please see the History and Mission page.