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Holiday Giving Challenge: Bottom Line

Founded in 1997, Bottom Line is a nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Boston, Worcester, and New York City, that helps first generation students from low-income communities get into college, graduate and find careers through one-on-one, individualized counseling provided by counselors. Bottom Line is one of the first organizations to serve students from application to college graduation with a highly structured and one-on-one approach. During the last 20 years, 80% of Bottom Line students have earned a college degree.

[This story was written and contributed by Martha Khanna, Director of Development & External Affairs at Bottom Line Chicago.]

Bottom Line was founded on the belief that students need a mentor and a guide not only during the college application process, but through the entire college experience to succeed.

Through our Access program, our counselors work closely with high school seniors to identify suitable colleges that fit with their interests, match with their academic ability, and affordability. Counselors then work with students to complete compelling applications and apply for financial aid. Together, students and counselors make decisions together to impact each student’s future in a positive and informed way.

Our Success program, which begins the summer before a student starts college, is focused on graduation and career readiness. Success program counselors provide high-touch, on-campus advising so that our students can overcome any challenges in accumulating proper course credits, accessing on-campus resources, and maintaining sufficient financial aid.

I remember speaking with a Bottom Line student who ran into her best friend from kindergarten in the college cafeteria. He confided in her that he was struggling with his classes. She began spending time with him and sharing her notes from her counselor, which helped him improve his grades. In sharing what she has learned from the Bottom Line program, she has been a lifeline for him.

That’s just one example of how Bottom Line students have flourished for the past two decades. The Chicago office of Bottom Line will positively impact nearly 1,100 students in the 2017-2018 school year, and plans to annually serve 2,000 students by 2020.

It’s the continued support of the community that allows Bottom Line to build and grow its program each year. This is the second year in a row that Bottom Line Chicago has participated in DRW’s Holiday Giving Challenge and the third year that the company has provided monetary support. With our aggressive fundraising goal of more than $2 million by the end of June 2018, development opportunities like the Holiday Giving Challenge give us the resources to add new programs and better serve our students.

For instance, we recently began developing our “Go Far” program, which helps our students identify a career and prepares them to land a job upon graduation through internships, job shadows, and career panels. Our students have the opportunity to gain exposure to a variety of careers and receive individual support in resume-building, interviewing skills, and professionalism from our corporate partners.

Funding isn’t the only way those interested can help out — we’re always looking for professionals to participate in one of our career panels, and companies to host lunch-and-learn sessions and summer internship opportunities for our students.

Bottom Line needs your help to continue changing the lives of students. To find out how you can help, please visit