In the basement of St. Cecilia Parish in the Back Bay, the men and women of College Bound Dorchester flipped their tassels to the other side of their mortarboards and cheered.
Few people who knew the 41 graduates as they struggled through their teenage and young-adult years thought they would make it past high school. And many of those who graduated Wednesday night had dropped out, but are now heading to college.
College Bound focuses its attention on those considered unlikely to succeed. They seek out dropouts, gang members, inmates, and others with setbacks in their past and aggressively push them toward college.
Since its founding in 2009, the nonprofit has helped 63 students enroll in college after earning their HiSet certification, or high school equivalency diploma.
“In almost all cases what it is, is there have been barriers to their linear path to growth . . . they’ve had to find their own way to be successful,” said Mark Culliton, chief executive of College Bound.
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