Boston Uncornered finds success paying former gang-involved youth a stipend to earn a degree
- Boston-area nonprofit College Bound Dorchester (CBD) runs a program called Boston Uncornered, which pays area youth who have been involved with gangs a weekly stipend to incentivize them to complete a high-school equivalency test, GED or other courses in pursuit of a college degree.
- The program has graduated 72% of students in its two-and-a-half-year existence, according to the Boston Globe. This year, 44 of its 66 participants graduating with a GED will go on to college. The Globe notes that less than 1% of young people in the U.S. who are involved with gangs attend college.
- Boston Uncornered costs Massachusetts around $30,000 per student per year, the Christian Science Monitor reported. That's compared to $53,000 annually per person for outcomes such as incarceration and probation. Private funding is expected to support the program, which is estimated to cost $18 million over three years.
Alternative programs to help troubled teens and young adults matriculate into college can have a positive impact on graduation rates for first generation and nontraditional college students, which makes them attractive to institutions.
Earlier this year, Glendale Community College applied for a multimillion-dollar grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to expand services for formerly incarcerated students. A survey by Stanford University’s criminal justice center found that 78% of colleges in California’s community college system have implemented or are planning to implement initiatives to increase matriculation of students who had been to prison.
In 2016, the Obama administration expanded educational opportunities for students who had been to prison by extending Pell Grant assistance for learners who demonstrated educational promise and were slated to be released within five years. The move intended to reverse a 1994 decision by Congress to end prisoners’ eligibility for Pell Grants, part of President Clinton’s expansive crime bill, leaving several states to lead their own efforts to provide educational opportunities for inmates.
Providing opportunities for incarcerated youth to attend college may also help small, private nonprofit colleges as well as some public universities and other higher education institutions increase their dwindling enrollment rates. Analyzing the success of organizations like CBD may offer some clues on how to serve this population.