INDIANAPOLIS, April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- USA Funds®, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that helps American families benefit from postsecondary education, has awarded $1 million grants to two nonprofit organizations that help disadvantaged students succeed in college.
Bottom Line, a nonprofit organization in Boston, will receive funding as the recipient of the USA Funds Trustees' National Award for College Success. USA Funds selected Bottom Line from among 51 nonprofit organizations nationwide that had applied for the award.
The grant will support Bottom Line's plans to expand its operations in Massachusetts and replicate its model in New York City. Bottom Line serves nearly 1,600 students in Boston and Worcester, Mass. By 2015 Bottom Line projects it will serve 3,200 students annually.
Bottom Line college counselors provide one-on-one guidance to students in academic, employment, financial and personal areas during college. The personalized support that Bottom Line offers has helped 73 percent of the college students in the program graduate in six years or less.
"Bottom Line has spent the last 14 years building a model that has been proven to help low-income and first-generation students succeed in college at high rates," said Greg Johnson, Bottom Line executive director. "We have used that model to support thousands of students, but we believe that we can help tens of thousands of students every year. And beyond that, we believe that our methods for supporting students can inform school systems, colleges and universities, and other nonprofit organizations. We will have a chance to make all of this happen, thanks to this significant investment from USA Funds."
Starfish Initiative, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, will receive funding under the USA Funds John Burkhart Indiana Award for College Success. The award, which is designed to promote student success in higher education in Indiana, is named for one of USA Funds' founders. USA Funds selected the Starfish Initiative from among 26 Indiana nonprofits that had applied for the award.
Starfish serves low-income students, most of whom also are students of color and the first in their family to attend college. The program participants, known as Starfish Scholars, are matched with mentors who are college graduates and who continue to follow the students after they enter college. The program also provides college access support, including career inventory testing, college planning, scholarship information and job shadowing.
Starfish Scholars have a 100 percent rate of high school graduation and enrollment in postsecondary education programs, and 95 percent of the program's participants have either completed college or are working toward a postsecondary degree.
The grant will support Starfish Initiative's plans to double the number of students it serves in Indianapolis next year and triple the number the following year. In addition, the grant will permit Starfish Initiative to extend its outreach to participants who are in college to support their persistence and completion of their higher education programs.
"This award will allow us to assist many more ambitious, deserving young people in Central Indiana and make it possible to follow their progress in college in a substantial way," said Starfish Initiative founder, board member and mentor Mike Feeney. "Now we can support our College Scholars in 'real time' through a dedicated staff member. The USA Funds John Burkhart Indiana Award for College Success is, for Starfish, a transformational grant."
USA Funds established the $2 million grant program in 2010 to commemorate its 50th anniversary of service to higher education.
"To reap the full benefits of higher education, students must complete their academic programs and receive their college diplomas," said Carl C. Dalstrom, USA Funds president and CEO. "Expanding the successful programs that Bottom Line and Starfish Initiative have developed will contribute to the national goal of increasing the educational attainment of our population and ensuring that, regardless of their household income and ethnic background, all students can realize their full potential."
Headquartered in Indianapolis, USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that works to enhance postsecondary education preparedness, access and success by providing and supporting financial and other valued services. For more information about USA Funds, visit www.usafunds.org.
SOURCE USA Funds