Community Transformation

Through research based programs

We’re doing more than providing students with tools to access success. We’re challenging them to reinvest their success into their community.

Comp Lab Students
  • Motivation

    In 9th & 10th grade we begin establishing a college-going identity through family engagement, civic engagement, & leadership development.

  • Engagement

    At 10th & 11th grade, we begin college & career exploration & exposure. We continue engaging the family & developing civic engagement & leadership skills.

  • College Access

    At 12th grade, students complete college applications & financial aid, make a post-secondary plan and plan for the financial burden of college.

  • College Success

    The transition to college begins. Students receive one-on-one coaching, continue following through on their financial plan, and stay on course to graduate.

  • College Completion

    Students are prepared for life after college through resume building, interview coaching, and internships through our partners resulting in civically engaged college graduates.

Our Push Program

PUSH helps students transition from high school to college by practicing Freedom House’s research based theory of community change.[1] The program provides intensive summer training that is linked to rigorous coaching on college access and college success. The high school component prepares students for the college selection and application process and the college program coaches them throughout their college careers.

Theresearch based program used by PUSH are discussed at length in “Toward a New Understanding of Non-Academic Student Support,” by Melinda Karp, a leading expert on high school to college transition programs.[2] In this article, Karp states that programs that have the most positive student outcomes often involve one or more of the following: “creating social relationships, clarifying aspirations and enhancing commitment, developing college know-how, and making college life feasible.”

The Hewlett Foundation’s Building Community College/CBO Partnerships Report also informs some of the features within Freedom House’s theory of change. The report discusses how community-based partnerships that provide continuing case management and social support are uniquely positioned to support disadvantaged students through consistent and caring coaching from adult mentors. “The single most important feature of those organizations that purport to be successful with individual students was a close, caring relationship with knowledgeable adults who monitor the student’s progress,” the report stated.[3]

A recent Lumina Foundation study could not have stressed the importance of a college degree more. It found that the gap between those with college credentials and those without one is growing. The unemployment rate for all 4-year college graduates is a low 4.5%, however for those with only a high school diploma it is nearly 24%.  Freedom House understands that people who complete high school and college are more likely to have an improved quality of life, higher knowledge, skills and aspirations that lead to an increase in lifetime earnings, a path out of poverty, better health and longer life expectancy.[4]

[1] PUSH grew out of our Project Reach Program, which ran from 1988-1995. Project Reach was a great example of how to counter the achievement gap. It achieved a 97% graduation rate of minority students and, even though other programs have emerged to take its place, none of them have been able to provide the holistic support that Freedom House offered: an approach that connects individual success to community health and development.

[2] Karp’s research was funded by the Gates Foundation.

[3] This report was published in 2001 by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics.

[4] Read more about key findings concerning BPS students in the extract from “Getting Closer to the Finish Line”

PUSH High School

PUSH College

PUSH High School is a research based program that works with students to complete their college applications and financial aid forms and select colleges that are right for them. Through our pilot program at Muriel Snowden International High School, which serves over 400 students, Freedom House supplements the school’s guidance programs, and helps to hone leadership and civic engagement skills.

By creating a culture of “high expectations,” PUSH helps students develop the skills, strategies and support networks necessary to complete high school, advance to college and earn a degree.  The coaching and support helps students understand the relevance of what they are learning, reinforces the importance of obtaining a credential or degree and provides soft skills training in communication, critical thinking, team work and community organizing.

Students are taught short- and long-term goal setting, executing a strategy, creating a view of how to get from point A to point B and making connections between school and careers.  Students are held accountable for attendance, participation, behavior and meeting their goals. The program also provides social and emotional support by building trusting relationships between students and adults.

The College Program helps new college students transition successfully into college and persist to graduation.  Freedom House staff coach student to develop strong academic behaviors and self-advocacy skills through our research based program.

Through a unique partnership and innovative “embedded” community-based organization/college partnership model with UMASS-Boston, Freedom House offers an intensive and intentional student-focused approach to college support. The goal of this component is to double the college graduation rate within a 3-6 year time frame by providing intensive wrap around services for students at UMASS Boston and Bunker Hill Community College.

Because of a variety of recruitment and outreach strategies, the program serves not only students from Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan but also many from other Boston neighborhoods including South Boston, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and Hyde Park. 


PUSH High School
Our PUSH High School program works to improve knowledge, perception, and behavior toward college readiness and post-secondary options. Some of the indicators we use to measure the success of this program are attendance, grade point averages (GPA), promotion, college awareness, college readiness, FAFSA completion, college acceptance, and college enrollment. Freedom House also has the luxury of continuing to monitor the outcomes of our PUSH High School students as they graduate to become PUSH College students.

PUSH College
PUSH College works to help students become civically-engaged college graduates. In order to ultimately reach our program’s lofty goals, we look at indicators that lead to success such as continuous enrollment and credit accumulation. Freedom House has identified indicators to measure performance of PUSH College. In order to improve program success, we analyze the effectiveness of our degree attainment support, advising, employment support, and college integration support by tracking remedial course enrollment, academic achievement, transfer rate, and attainment of a professional track job.

Improving Our Systems
Thanks to a generous donation from The Boston Foundation, we are currently engaged in two capacity building programs to better manage our outcomes and increase our capacity to measure and assess program impact. Through these research based programs, Freedom House is designing a sustainable evaluation infrastructure in order to concretely evaluate the correlation between program actions and program results.

The Peer Performance Exchange
Our PUSH College program is currently a part of the Peer Performance Exchange to track College Access and Success. Through independent program analysis, we are able to understand the strengths and vulnerabilities of our practice and make changes based on local and national best practices to improve college persistence outcomes for our students.

The Boston Capacity Tank
We are also engaged in a comprehensive performance measurement project through the Boston Capacity Tank. This two-year project seeks to build a unified data collection system that connects the impact of all of Freedom House’s programs directly back to staff performance. The project also interconnects logic models for all of our programs. The result will be expanded capacity to connect student outcomes with staff performance and organizational operations, including program methodology and models.

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