Announcing the 2011 Community Advisory Group
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Announcing the 2011 Community Advisory Group

Four new members join the Foundation's coalition of community partners, who are working together to create a better Boston

As a former educator, Harriet Lewis has always had a special passion for creating opportunities for inner city children—and in Boston, there are many outstanding organizations that share this passion and actively work to make a difference. In 1999, she and Alan decided to create a forum in which Boston nonprofit leaders could share ideas and work together to further their collective mission. They called it the Community Advisory Group (CAG), and committed to support each one of their chosen organizations with grants from Grand Circle Foundation. And while the leaders of these nonprofits all lead busy, demanding lives, they all make time several times a year to share ideas and best practices about how to improve their organizations.

Beginning in 2011, Alan and Harriet have launched an ambitious new plan for the Community Advisory Group. Between 2012 and 2016, they hope to measurably increase high school and college graduation rates amongst students from Boston's Allston, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury neighborhoods who participate in CAG programs.

To support their new goals, Alan and Harriet welcome the following new members to the Community Advisory Group:

Executive Director: Bob Giannino-Racine
Action Center for College Educational Services and Scholarships (ACCESS) works to ensure that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to—and through—a postsecondary education. To accomplish this mission, ACCESS provides free financial aid advice and advocacy to help students overcome the financial barriers to higher education. ACCESS has helped students secure more than $150 million in financial aid in the last three years alone and has awarded more than $5 million in need-based last dollar scholarships, maintaining a 75% college graduation rate for the students they serve.

Bottom Line
Executive Director: Greg Johnson
Bottom Line helps low-income and first-generation-to-college students get to and through college. The organization is committed to building strong connections with students, providing them with individual support and ensuring they have the guidance needed to earn a college degree. Students are given personalized one-on-one support and mentoring—throughout college and through the application process. With this continued support, Bottom Line students are 43% more likely to earn a degree

College Bound Dorchester
Executive Director: Mark Culliton
In the neighborhoods of Dorchester, less than one quarter of the adult population has a college degree. College Bound Dorchester works to ensure that all students view success in college as not just a possibility, but a baseline expectation. Everyday, College Bound Dorchester's educators work with diverse populations, including at-risk youth, newly-arrived immigrants, and families struggling to provide educational support to their children. In each program, College Bound Dorchester provides educational services to the underserved and lays the foundation for future academic, economic, and social success.

Year Up Boston
Executive Director: Casey Recupero
Year Up is a one-year, intensive training program that provides urban young adults 18-24, with a unique combination of technical and professional skills, college credits, an educational stipend, and corporate internship—enabling them to move on to full-time employment and higher education. Year Up has achieved excellent results to date, including 100% placement of qualified students into internships and 84% of graduates placed in full or part-time positions.

In addition, Alan and Harriet will continue to work with the following long-time CAG partners:

Artists for Humanity (AFH)
Founder, Executive Director: Susan Rodgerson
AFH's central program, the Arts Micro-Enterprise, is a paid apprenticeship and leadership program that employs inner-city teens. Youth are partnered in small groups with professional artists, designers, and young artist mentors to create, market, and sell fine art and design services. Not only are the young people expressing themselves creatively, they're also active on the front lines of the business, attending meetings with clients and participating in negotiations. In short, they're learning how to be professionals—and the fact that they're paid for their work at Artists for Humanity reinforces the mentality that their time and contributions are valuable.

Big Sister Association of Greater Boston
Chief Executive Officer: Deborah Re
Big Sister helps girls between the ages of 7 and 15 realize their full potential by matching them with a mentor who will give them the attention, care, and support necessary to make healthy choices in their lives. Big Sister hires and retains a professional staff, including social workers who bring backgrounds in women's and girls' studies. Their volunteer mentors are the heart and soul of their programs, dedicating themselves to young girls and inspiring them to believe there is nothing they can't do, become or achieve.

Boston Astros
Founder: Robert Lewis, Jr.
The Boston Astros are part of the South End Baseball league, a community program developed to provide youth with opportunities to engage in forms of healthy competition and athletic activity—while also keeping young people out of trouble. The Astros have established themselves as one of the elite teams in the nation, competing at the local, regional and national level—including a tournament in Japan. Following this competition, they were featured in Japanese print and radio as a model American baseball program. To date, the Astros have served over 8,000 boys and girls on more than 600 teams.

City on a Hill
Executive Director: Erica Brown
In 1993, the Massachusetts Education Reform Act was signed into law, legalizing the establishment of charter public schools. City on a Hill Charter Public High School is the first urban charter high school in the state to be founded and run entirely by teachers. All City on a Hill students have a tutor to individualize their education, an advisor to guide their education, and access to full counseling services to make their education accessible in the face of harsh urban realities of violence and poverty—and today, 100% of its students are accepted into college.

Greater Boston Food Bank
President & CEO: Catherine D'Amato
The Greater Boston Food Bank feeds more than 394,000 people annually in nine counties in eastern Massachusetts. It is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and one of the largest food banks in the country, distributing more than 34 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to a network of nearly 600 member hunger-relief agencies. In addition, the Greater Boston Food Bank's Kids Cafe program serves nearly 1,700 at-risk children in Boys & Girls Clubs throughout eastern Massachusetts (including the West End House, another CAG member), providing hot meals for underprivileged children who may not receive one at home.

Summer Search
Executive Director: Debbie Krause
Summer Search Boston provides 350 low-income high school students with mentoring, summer experiences, and college advising, so they gain the skills to succeed in college and dramatically improve their life prospects. Since 2005 Summer Search Boston has nearly tripled in size, while serving an increasingly high-need population. Today, 100% of Summer Search students graduate high school, 94% go to college, and 89% of alumni have graduated college or remain on track to do so—compared to 14% of their peers in the Boston Public Schools

West End House
Executive Director: Andrea Howard
The West End House Boys and Girls Club will always have a special place in Alan Lewis' heart, because he's not only a supporter—he's also a former member. For more than 100 years, the club has offered life-shaping opportunities to young people age 7 to 18. During summer break, school vacations, and after school hours, members receive help and encouragement with their academic studies, college preparation, and leadership skills. They also have the opportunity to play sports, get involved in the arts, and learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices. Only 59% of students attending Boston public schools graduate high school, compared with 92% of West End House Club members. Similarly, only 71% of Boston public school seniors make it into college, whereas members of the West End House matriculate at 82%.

We look forward to sharing results from the Community Advisory Group in future issues of our e-newsletter—in addition to telling the stories of our four new CAG Gutsy Leaders.

This story was featured in our January 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.