Support that begins early—often in elementary or middle school—sets West End House apart from other organizations that work with college students. Our approach to College and Career Success begins when students first enroll in West End House programs as a child or teen. Meaningful, longstanding relationships form a foundation of trust that accelerates success at the college level.
West End House is a proud member of the citywide Success Boston initiative launched by The Boston Foundation to provide help Boston Public Schools graduates earn a college degree and enter the workforce. Our program supports more first-generation, men of color than any other Success Boston partner agency. Through the Success Boston Network we have built effective partnerships with University of Massachusetts Boston, Bunker Hill Community College, and Massachusetts Bay Community College. Our relationships with administrators and faculty facilitate access to resources and allow us to best advocate for the young people we serve. Although the majority of our students enroll in one of these colleges, we support West End House alumni across 30+ college campuses nationwide.
College coaching, which is the core element of this program, formally begins during the last year of high school, when we pair all students, many of whom have been West End House club members since elementary school, with one of our three College Success Coaches. Over the course of the year students meet individually and in groups with Coaches and our Teen Services Coordinator, ensuring everyone receives college application and financial aid guidance.
During the first year of college we provide intensive coaching with on-campus (pre-pandemic) and remote support to ensure that all students meet key academic, financial, and social-emotional benchmarks while progressing toward college completion. Regardless of geographic location, Coaches work with students by phone, FaceTime, Zoom, email, and text to ensure ongoing connection. Coaches assist with course registration, major selection, scholarships/FAFSA, and transferring from two-year to four-year schools. They also connect them to resources and support around issues such as residency, legal issues, food insecurity, or balancing school and family responsibilities. Special workshops and events include FAFSA renewal parties, forums on financial aid, networking events, and community-building activities such as our pandemic-era Let’s Talk Thursday virtual series, among others.
As students pursue their education, we support their career exploration and preparation through three different career-building opportunities:
- Internship Grant Program: We award grants of up to $5,000 to our college-enrolled alumni who secure unpaid or minimally paid career-aligned internships, eliminating financial barriers that would preclude them from pursuing these opportunities. They research and find opportunities on their own and require minimal support during the application process. Click here to read more about our 2020 internship grantees.
- Internships with West End House stakeholders: Building on relationships with Board members, corporate funders and non-profit partners, paid summer internships are developed and offered exclusively to West End House alumni including those enrolled in the College and Career Success Program. We provide assistance with their resume and preparation for their interview, but in the end, each student has to secure the internship on their own merit through an interview process at the host site. During their internship, our coaches help students identify professional development opportunities, offer guidance in navigating workplace issues, and provide weekly development workshops on Friday afternoons back at the West End House.
- Competitive Corporate Internships: Coaches encourage and support the pursuit of internships in well-established, highly sought after programs. Past examples of companies our college-enrolled alumni have interned at include Liberty Mutual, Goldman Sachs, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sasaki & Associates. Our coaches assist students during the application process and check in throughout the summer. Each of these programs had an internal professional development program and provides competitive pay to all participants.
As a result of participating in West End House’s College and Career Success Program, our young people will develop the following skills, knowledge, and values to help them achieve lifelong success and happiness as they inspire others to do the same:
- Self-advocacy and self-confidence
- Critical thinking
- *Emotional and economic self-sufficiency
- Ability to identify and pursue their passions in careers and professions they enjoy and that enable them to support themselves and their families
- Minimal debt after graduation from college, graduate school, and other post-secondary programs
- A community-minded and civic-minded outlook that encourages them to contribute to their communities by supporting initiatives that reflect and uphold their personal values and philosophy
COLLEGE SUCCESS IMPACT DATA