Bottom Line

An investment worth the wait

In business, The Connor Group is a disciplined investor. And on the non-profit side, it’s no different.

 The company’s non-profit arm Kids & Community Partners, much like its for-profit counterpart, is constantly looking for investments that fit its model. One such investment, seven years in the making, is starting to pay serious dividends for under-resourced students.

 In 2017 K&C vetted a program called Bottom Line, a Boston-based organization that helps low-income students become first-generation college students. The model – predicated on skilled and intense professional advising – scored well in Kids & Community’s return on investment calculator. (This calculator focuses on how much value a non-profit is bringing to kids in terms of their lifetime health and lifetime income.) K&C leadership spent months meeting with the program. However, at the time Bottom Line was going through a leadership change. So Kids & Community looked elsewhere.

 “We bought into the idea and importance of college success pretty quickly,” said K&C director Ryan Ernst. “We literally spent years scouring the country for the best model. Eventually the search brought us back to Bottom Line. In terms of philosophy, people, plans and processes, we don’t think there’s another organization in this space that is on Bottom Line’s level.”

 K&C eventually made a five-year $2.8 million investment in Bottom Line helping create new technology to generate more efficiency for Bottom Line’s Advisors and helping the program scale into Dayton  – where currently about 10% of students in the region’s lowest income districts will earn a bachelor’s degree. It’s also now Bottom Line’s fastest-growing  new market, with a sizable waiting list for its first cohort of 180 students. Based on Bottom Line’s historical results, 75% of these students will graduate with a bachelor’s.

 Bottom Line Dayton’s executive director James Cosby credits K&C with much of the early success.

 “They’re providing the support and resources needed to lay a strong foundation in Ohio,” he said, “empowering more students to realize their dreams.”

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