Education and Academic Support! / College Readiness and Retention

Bottom Line

Bottom Line provides low-income and first-generation college students, most of whom have GPA’s of 2.5 or higher, with one-on-one guidance through the college application process, college, and beyond. The foundation supported the replication of Bottom Line’s successful Boston-based model to New York City and renewed funding for the organization in 2015 and 2016. Bottom Line is distinguished by its two-fold focus on successful completion of college in addition to college access support. Its goals are therefore to provide a college access program for high school seniors through mandatory one-on-one meetings with a Bottom Line counselor and to provide a college success program that serves college students at 20 private and public colleges in New York City and New York State.

Bottom Line targets mid-achieving students. Its college access counselors meet individually with students to create a list of potential schools, complete applications, apply for financial aid, and select a college that meets their academic, financial, and personal needs. Once they matriculate, students join the college success program.

The foundation funded Bottom Line’s Success Direct program, which provides a direct pipeline program for college persistence support. It is customized for students who attend New York City high schools that partner with Student Sponsor Partners, a mentorship and sponsorship organization. Bottom Line continues building upon this program through partnerships with 20 New York State colleges, 12 of which are located in New York City. These “Higher Education Opportunity Programs,” are part of a New York State-wide college access program that includes New York University, Barnard College, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, Hamilton College, Skidmore College, Union College, and Colgate University.

Since Success Direct’s launch in New York City in 2011, 88 percent of all participants have graduated from college or are on track to graduate within six years. Of the Class of 2015, 92 percent have persisted into their third semester of college. Of the 1,247 Success students Bottom Line is currently serving, 97 percent remain engaged in the program.

A 2016 randomized control trial evaluation by University of Virginia Professors Ben Castleman and Andrew Barr found that graduates from the high school class of 2015 who were offered Bottom Line advising were 14 percent more likely to enroll at a four-year institution and attend institutions with higher mean graduation rates and lower cohort default rates.

Over the last four years, 99 percent of Bottom Line’s New York cohort was accepted to college, with 33 percent of this group enrolling at a Higher Education Opportunity school. Bottom Line’s success is due in substantial part to its built-in framework for collaboration with colleges, other community-based organizations, and district and charter schools. In 2015, Bottom Line increased its post-college workforce entry services through individualized support and career counseling. The organization also replicated its model to Chicago.

During the 2016 to 2017 academic year, Bottom Line will grow to serve 1,735 low-income, first-generation college students in the Success Direct program, in part as a result of increasing partnerships with college access nonprofits and local high schools that are unable to effectively support students during college. As part of the organization’s strategic growth plan, this academic year Bottom Line developed a pipeline for students transferring from two-year CUNY colleges to one of the program’s target senior colleges, through a partnership with Graduate NYC, ASAP, and LaGuardia Community College. Over 50 percent of the students at CUNY’s four-year colleges enter as transfer students, so Bottom Line sees this program as a significant new pipeline of students that can benefit from the organization’s support to earn their bachelor’s degree.