Tackling Obstacles, Raising College Hopes (TORCH)

Tackling Obstacles, Raising College Hopes (TORCH)
Institution
Northfield Healthy Community Initiative/Northfield Public Schools
State
Minnesota
Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Access
Key Personnel
Program Focus
College Prep,
Community Partnerships / Collective Impact

Overview

The mission of TORCH is to support and empower students in graduating from high school and pursuing future goals, with an intentional focus on partnering with Northfield’s students of color, youth from low income families, and first-generation college attendees. The program was founded to identify and respond to Latinx needs when the Latinx graduation rate from the local high school was just 37%. . Students are about 75% Latinx today, and staff includes bilingual team members to include families in programming at every level.

Program Description

TORCH aims to support the whole student by getting to know them and helping them develop social-emotional and academic competencies. Working one-on-one with youth, TORCH provides academic counseling, tutoring, after school homework help, college visits, internships, and ACT preparation. The program also sponsors a post-secondary education optional program, where students earn college credit while still in high school. During the summer, TORCH connects students with summer academic programming on college campuses. When students participate in the summer program, they receive assistance with identifying potential colleges, applying to colleges, help with financial aid, and scholarship. Lastly, TORCH conducts home visits with participating families and makes regular contact with the parents.

Outcome

  • Serving their community: In 2005, the program began with 17 students and currently serves 572 students in middle school, high school, and college. Two-thirds of TORCH youth identify as Latino.
  • Increase Latino high school graduation rates: TORCH has helped Latino on-time high school graduation rates increase from 37% in 2005 to 83% in 2015.
  • Increase overall graduation rates: As of 2020, at least 95% of program participants have graduated from high school on-time over the past ten years. 

2024 Call for Nominations: Nominations are open from February1 to March 15