College support program gets $1 million

April 15, 2011
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Plans local, Big Apple expansions

The Jamaica Plain-based non-profit Bottom Line—which helps high school students prepare for college and supports them through college graduation—got some significant help with its bottom line this month, to the tune of $1 million.

The funding is being provided, via a competitive grant, from USA Funds, an Indianapolis-based non-profit that provides financial support services for college students, including scholarships and loan-default prevention counseling.

It will help Bottom Line with its plans to expand its programs in Boston and Worcester and open a new office in New York City, Bottom Line Executive Director Greg Johnson told the Gazette.

“For sure, it’s a great start,” Johnson said of the grant, which will be paid out over the next three years. The non-profit’s annual operating budget is currently $2.2 million, but is expected to rise to $3.5 million over the grant payment period, he said..

The expansion to New York comes as the non-profit is near maxing out on its mission in Boston and Worcester, Johnson said.

Bottom Line is now serving about 1,600 students in Boston and Worcester public schools. That is about 75 percent of students in those public school systems who fall into Bottom Line’s target group—low-income students who have a 2.5 grade point average and are first-generation immigrants or the first in their family to go to college, Johnson said.

He said the non-profit looked at other cities to expand to in Massachusetts and across the country, but New York stuck out because of the city’s “lack of a coherent college access message,” and the potential for fundraising there.

Locally, Bottom-Line plans to hire four new staff members for it 500 Amory St. Boston office, and expand its program for supporting students once they are in college, Johnson said.

“We were particularly impressed by Bottom Line’s long track record of success going back to 1997, its well-documented model for supporting students prior to and through college and its well designed strategic plan for expansion and replication of its program,” Ernest Newborn, chair of USA Fund’s board of trustees said in a press release.

The USA Funds grant was one of two $1 million USA Finds Trustee’s National Award for College Success grants it awarded this year in honor of its 50th anniversary.