Postsecondary Pathways

Postsecondary Pathways

In November 2008, the PIC, in collaboration with Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, published the first major report on college persistence and completion rates for BPS graduates. In response, The Boston Foundation funded nonprofit organizations, including the PIC, to provide transition coaching for BPS graduates, particularly those who attend local colleges and continue to live in the community. The PIC is invested in transition coaching for college completion because a college degree continues to pay a huge premium in the way of lifelong earnings.

For over a decade, the PIC has been coaching BPS graduates as part of the Success Boston college completion initiative. As students and colleges deal with the lingering effects of the pandemic, PIC postsecondary coaches help students persist academically, balance education and employment, and imagine a career path beyond college.

Success Boston

Success Boston is a collective impact initiative that brings together higher education institutions, the school district, philanthropy, and non-profits to increase the rates of college completion for Boston Public School graduates. The initiative’s campaign resulted in significant gains in the college completion rates of BPS graduates. Six years after graduating from high school, 54% of first-year college enrollees from the BPS Class of 2013 completed a college credential, compared to 40.6% for the Class of 2000.

The college enrollment rates continued to climb. In 2017, nearly 70% of the Class of 2017 enrolled in college. However, after 2017, first-year college enrollment rates began to decline sharply, dropping to 63% the following year. First-year enrollment rates declined further to 54.5% and 52.6% for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, which graduated from high school during the pandemic. As a result, the college enrollment rate fell 17 percentage points from the BPS Class of 2017 to the Class of 2021.

There is considerable variation in college enrollment rates across demographic characteristics. For first-year students within the Class of 2021, enrollment among female students exceeded that of male students by 11.4 percentage points. Among the four major race-ethnic groups from the Class of 2021, first-year college enrollment rates were 43.2% for Latino graduates, 49.5% for Black graduates, 71.5% for White graduates, and 74.3% for Asian graduates. The first-year enrollment gap between Latino graduates and Asian graduates is 31.7 percentage points.


The PIC’s vision for postsecondary success extends beyond college persistence and completion to career planning. With funding from the Salesforce Foundation, we hired two coaches to provide career exploration and employment support for current BPS graduates at BHCC. This added support benefits new enrollees as they choose their majors as well as current students as they prepare for the transition from college to career.

The PIC launched HOPE Forward, a collaboration between the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative and the Halting Oppressive Pathways in Education (HOPE) Initiative at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC). Funded by the Aspen Institute, the collaboration builds on the Success Boston framework and focuses on outreach, coaching, and community for Black and Latino men. HOPE hires student ambassadors who serve as peer mentors for these students and provide additional guidance for the initiative.

Young Adult Career Center (YACC)

Knowing that a significant number of BPS graduates never start or finish college, the PIC and JVS are piloting young adult career center services. Located within the MassHire Downtown Career Center, the initiative has a dedicated space and six staff to provide young adults with career explorations, job readiness preparation, and referrals to employment and job training. The goal is to connect these young people to jobs with high quality career potential.

The YACC team engages young adults with interest inventories, skills assessments, individualized career plans, guest speakers from various industries, and virtual reality career exploration technology. The team helps young adults to imagine their long-term career goals, to think about the future while surviving in the short-term, and to manage their finances. JVS and the PIC are collaborating to conduct outreach to the community so that young adults become aware that these services are available to them.