A Second Chance for Former Prisoners, Gang Members

A Second Chance for Former Prisoners, Gang Members
Susan Dutca-Lovell

One nonprofit is heavily recruiting reformed delinquents from disadvantaged communities and funneling them into college. The troubled youth - many of whom have committed crimes and have been in jail, are given personal advisers, free college-prep courses, childcare, bus passes and other forms of support to keep off the streets.

College Bound Dorchester has enrolled about 130 students over the past three years and guides students into Bunker Hill and two other Boston Colleges - Roxbury Community college and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. Some students are homeless and others are victims of domestic abuse. In spite of their dark pasts, 30 percent have earned an associate or bachelor's degree and 60 percent of those who start the program continue the following year.

Giovanne Morris is proof that you can overcome hardship and become successful. Though he may have been previously known for "the destruction he caused growing up in a neighborhood teeming with guns, drugs, and violence", Morris recently received a standing ovation for his matriculation speech at Bunker Hill Community College. He is currently headed into his second semester of college, majoring in human services and hoping to become a counselor for a middle school or nonprofit organization. He described his struggle to fit in with his peers, often feeling "more accepted in the streets." His ankle monitor and the scar on his wrist are a reminder of the past he has chosen to leave behind in order to pursue greater opportunities for himself and his son and daughter.

Morris hopes to be a "different kind of role model" than he was prior to joining College Bound Dorchester. The program, which is located in one of Boston's most dangerous neighborhoods scopes out 17-27-year-olds with "a track record of leading their peers into crime" and turns them into "core influencers" who can utilize their "charisma and leadership that got them into trouble to become positive influences in their communities." The cost of achieving this goal isn't cheap - funds come from mostly private donations but is worth it, according to leaders who claim it's cheaper than the alternative.

We make it simple and match you to college scholarships you qualify for.