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Coalition of Nonprofit Organizations

Boston WINS (Workforce Investment Network)


Coalition of Nonprofit Organizations


Boston WINS (Workforce Investment Network)


How can a group of nonprofit organizations, a public school district, and a foundation work together to create college and career readiness opportunities for all students as they graduate high school, succeed in post-secondary programs, and enter the workforce?



Boston Public Schools have an increasing high school graduation rate. In 2018, the high school graduation rate was 75.1%, the highest it has ever been.[1] Yet evidence shows that students struggle once they enroll in college. Only 51.6% of Boston’s high schools’ graduates of the class of 2011 earned a degree six years later. And disparities still exist along racial lines. The Boston Globe notes that 80% of Asian female graduates of the high school class of 2011 earned degrees, compared to 33.6% of Latino males.[2] There is an opportunity for increased attention and coordination for students as they transition from high school to college and the workforce.


A corporate foundation sought to help better prepare youth to graduate from Boston Public Schools and be prepared for post-secondary success that would lead to employment.  The foundation brought together five nonprofit partners – Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), Bottom Line, College Advising Corps, uAspire and Year Up – to collaborate with Boston Public Schools to advance college and career readiness and success for youth. Through a multi-year commitment, the foundation and its nonprofit partners created a network focused on accelerating education and workforce development across Boston.

The network is a facilitated, place-based system of high-performing service providers working in conjunction with key stakeholders to enable a coordinated, efficient, and effective service delivery that advances a set of unified outcomes to youth.

Nonprofit partners provide a continuum of services for young people to move along a pathway from high school graduation to post-secondary education to employment. The corporate partner also set a goal to hire youth who had worked with one of these five programs and graduated from Boston Public Schools.

To improve the efficiency and reach of the five programs, the Initiative requires coordination of efforts to ensure youth are participating in core services. These services support students in achieving milestones to ensure they are prepared for post-secondary success on their pathway to employment.

The foundation partnered with Root Cause in 2015 to provide structured facilitation for the key stakeholders.  The Root Cause team helped develop and implement a collective action model in partnership with the foundation, nonprofit organizations, school district leaders, and teams of educators in the 26 high schools.

The Root Cause team, led by Colette Stanzler, guided the group in reaching consensus on a common set of desired student outcomes, created a performance measurement system to provide internal and external transparency about the successes and opportunities for improvement, and developed a management and governance structure for the initiative.

Root Cause also facilitates regular communication among stakeholders and supports nonprofit partners in using a centralized reporting system. Together, nonprofit and school partners track student participation in services, identify and address gaps in services, and facilitate referrals to network partners.


[1] “Facts and Figures.” Boston Public Schools.

[2] Vaznis, James. “Boston High School Grads Missing Goals on Degrees.” The Boston Globe. 11 April 2018.

“We wanted to create a program that would combine all the kinds of expertise necessary to support youths through high school and college and into the workforce. The key would be a coordinated system to pass students between these specialties, rather than relying on the students themselves to find what they needed when they needed it in a patchwork of organizations and solutions.” Joseph Hooley, State Street CEO
“We launched Boston WINs in 2015 to directly impact Boston youth and develop a major source of untapped local talent. By expanding our relationship with Year Up Greater Boston, we’ve been able to train and now hire highly skilled and specialized employees from our own backyard. This graduation is a celebration of each of the Year Up Greater Boston interns and all of their hard work over the past year.” Michael Scannell, Senior Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and head of the State Street Foundation

Goals & Results

The work began in the 2015-16 school year with a pilot of the collective action initiative in five Boston high schools. Root Cause led the development of 11 college access and career readiness milestones that seniors should achieve before they graduate high school related to three service areas. These service areas encompass:

  1. College knowledge and admissions advising
  2. College affordability and financial aid advising
  3. Work experience and career awareness

Nonprofit partners set annual targets for these milestones. Every month, they review their services and student milestones with school program staff to determine gaps and redundancies among seniors. Root Cause also regularly monitors progress on the milestones to report to key stakeholders.

With the success of the pilot, the foundation expanded the reach and impact of this new network to 26 high schools in the third year of the initiative.  At the end of the third year, partners had collectively served 63% more youth, exceeding the four-year target a full year early.

The corporate partner is on track to provide more than 2,000 youth with work experience through full-time hires and internships. They made more than 500 full-time hires from youth who participated in the network and provided intern experiences for more than 1,200 participating students.


Harvard Business Review
State Street’s CEO on Creating Employment for At-Risk Youths

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Boston WINs: A Winning Formula For All

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State Street
A Day In the Life (Video)

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About the Partner

Coalition of Nonprofit Organizations

Bottom Line is dedicated to helping first-generation students from low-income backgrounds get into college, graduate, and go far in life. Bottom Line’s vision is to dramatically transform urban communities with thousands of new, career-ready college graduates. Bottom Line is one of the first community-based organizations to focus on college completion.

College Advising Corps works to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college, and underrepresented high school students who enter and complete higher education. They do this through two innovative program models. Their in-school model places well-trained, recent college graduates from their 26 partner universities as full-time college advisers in high schools across the nation. Their virtual model leverages technology to connect well-trained, recent college graduates with students everywhere in the nation that technology can reach.

The Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) is a non-profit organization that strengthens Boston’s communities and its workforce by connecting youth and adults with education and employment opportunities that align with the needs of area employers.

uAspire is a non-profit organization ensuring that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to and through college.

Year Up seeks to close the Opportunity Divide by providing young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Year Up enables young adults to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers in just one year.