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

Tackling Obstacles, Raising College Hopes (TORCH) was founded in 2005 when the community became concerned about only 37% of Latinx students were graduating from Northfield's local high schools. TORCH knew that these students deserved better, and with success, they were able to open their program, which serves Northfield public schools students of color, low-income, and first-generation students. The mission of TORCH is to support and empower students in graduating from high school, pursuing post-secondary education, and completing a college degree by serving students from sixth grade to college completion.

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.