The Boston Higher Education Resource Center (HERC) equips first-generation students of color to achieve a higher education, to break the grip of poverty, and to become agents of change in their communities. In 2004, the Boston HERC launched the Passport to College Program.
The Boston HERC's Passport to College Program is a Latino-led, culturally-sensitive, college readiness program targeting first-generation, low-income, students of color attending BPS non-exam high schools. We believe that closing the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps is possible – and if there is any community poised to do this it is Boston. Doing so will require "re-wiring" the minds of BPS firstgeneration students and preparing them to lead in the competitive economy that is already shaping Boston’s future. Already, there are Boston HERC Passport Coaches serving BPS first-generation students in 9 non-exam high schools, imbuing these youth with what we call the Habits of the Mind: 21st Century skills that are indispensable for their success in college and in the innovation-driven Boston workplace they will soon be inhabiting. Currently fewer than 30% of Latino (29.7%) and black students (28.9%) graduating from BPS are completing college [Boston Foundation, 2016]. In stark contrast to BPS's college completion trends, 87% of the first-generation students who go on to college from Passport since the inception of the program in 2004 have graduated within 5-years of enrollment.
In 2012, in partnership with BPS, Passport launched a School-Based Program targeting first-generation, low-income youth attending non-exam BPS high schools. Between FY2012 and the beginning of FY2017, the Boston HERC experienced five years of uninterrupted growth by virtually every measure. The number of Passport Coaches and lead staff has tripled since FY2012, from a team of 3 to 9 in FY2016. Correspondingly, the number of non-exam BPS schools where Passport is available on campus has also tripled since School Year 2012 (from 3 in SY2012, to 9 in SY2016) – and grown nearly 10-fold between SY2011 and SY2016 (from 1 school partner to 9). By the end of the 2016 academic year, Passport Coaches will be serving close to 1,500 low-income students (and BPS Alumni) in the classrooms of nine critically-underserved non-exam BPS high schools (and undergraduate campuses) – including 9th and 10th graders at the Margarita Muñiz Academy, where every student this year will participate in Passport.
College enrollments for Passport students have exceeded even our own ambitious expectations. We expected 80% of the 2016 Seniors completing the Passport Community-Based Program will enroll in college – ultimately, each – 100% (26 out of 26 Seniors) enrolled in college this Fall. And where we expected 60% of the 2016 Seniors completing the Passport School-Based Program will enroll in college – ultimately, 82% of our over 200 School-Based Seniors are in college classrooms this Fall.