DBP: Can you give us an overview of the mission and initiatives at Bottom Line?
Victoria: Bottom Line’s mission is to partner with students from underserved and low-income backgrounds and communities of color. We have two core programs, the first is College Access, a high school access program where we support students through the college process during their senior year of high school. They come to us and knowing they want to go to college but aren’t entirely certain how to get from point A to point B. We pair them with a full-time trained advisor from our Bottom Line staff who carries a caseload of students and shepherds them throughout the entire application process. From creating a target college list, to writing essays, completing applications, and financial aid; they ultimately help students make really informed college decisions. In New York this year we have about 400 students in our College Access program, serving students from all five boroughs with a large contingent in Brooklyn, given that’s where our offices are, but we remain agnostic as to where students are coming to us from.
Second, we have our college persistence program called College Success, with which we support students while they’re enrolled in college. With the same one-on-one intensive advising model at the college level, full time trained advisors have caseloads of students, supporting them with any barrier that might be standing in the way of persistence. That could be academics, financial issues such as renewing financial aid applications (we have a small emergency fund), and general life. Most of our students are the first of their families to attend college and support may be provided by helping to normalize adversity they may face. We can also help them with time management, a roommate issue, or accessing resources to address food or housing insecurity, mental health resources – anything in those lanes. With a view to employability, we also help our students expand their professional networks, build their resumes, write cover letters, and gain valuable work experience during their college career. This helps students graduate to a well-paid, full-time job offer in an industry that they’re excited about. All paths aim to set them and their families up for economic security and mobility.
We have about 1,800 students in college in New York this year, and about 2,300 total in the region, with additional growth on the horizon. A few years back, our work was vetted by a randomized controlled trial, which is the gold standard in non-profits, to gauge how effective our work is. We had statistically significant positive results in terms of both college choice and then college graduation, so we’re really excited to expand on those strong results as we continue to grow our programming.