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April 11, 2018

The number of Boston Public School graduates attending and completing college within six years has risen significantly in the past decade. But challenges are still present for Black and Latino students.

In 2008, only 40 percent of BPS grads who went to college were getting a degree within six years, prompting then Mayor Tom Menino to launch a college-completion program called Success Boston that paired students with coaches. The goal was to increase college-completion rates to 70 percent.

While BPS has fallen short of that goal, Success Boston seems to be working, with the rate now over 50 percent.

Joseph McLaughlin crunched the numbers for the Boston Private Industry Council and The Boston Foundation. He says more grads getting degrees is good news, but demographic gaps persist.

"Females are graduating college at a rate that is about 12 percentage points above males," he said.

And Black and Latino students still lag their white peers. To move that needle, the Foundation plans to expand its college-completion program to more kids.

“As higher education institutions, we must continue to strive to meet both the academic and non-academic needs of our Black and Latino students, through coaching, support systems and by removing obstacles to student success,” said Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College. “But even as we strive to do better, we should recognize the important shift happening – as Latinos are getting certificates and degrees at levels we have never before seen in the history of the city.”

Paul Grogan, the president of the Boston Foundation, says class is also a factor.

"The overwhelming majority of these kids are in poverty - over 80 percent," Grogan said. "The resources that middle and upper middle-class families take for granted to assist their children and help them solve the inevitable problems that arise, they just don't exist for a lot of these kids."

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