Community Action Center Receives a "College Ready" grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation for TORCH


     The Community Action Center has received a College Ready grant for $126,345 from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation to support the TORCH (Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes) project.  This grant will benefit 455 Northfield students by helping to prepare them for academic success when they arrive at college.

     The Community Action Center, part of the collaborative group supporting TORCH, was one of 34 recipients to receive grants totalling more than $4,000,000 in College Ready funds from Great Lakes.  TORCH will use the funding to provide academic-focused services during the 2013-14 academic year to students to improve the academic preparedness of students in grades 6-12 who are low-income, students of color and/or potential first-generation college attendees.

    "With the College Ready grant, TORCH can expand our reach and help 50% more students begin to dream and take practical steps to ensure their education doesn't end with a high school diploma," said assistant principal Marnie Thompson, director of the project.  She added, "Some will even graduate from high school with college credits already on their transcripts!"

     The TORCH project was selected as a Great Lakes College Ready grant partner based on the strategies it has developed to prepare students for college and its commitment to tracking results.  TORCH will help students to improve their academic performance by tracking results measured by grade point averages, ACT scores and college enrollment.

     Great Lakes' College Ready grant is designed to support programs that help students from traditionally underserved backgrounds -- including students from low-income households, students of color, and those who are the first in their families to attend college -- in grades 6 through 12 and adult learners arrive on campus ready to enroll in college-level courses.  Recipient programs across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the upcoming academic year will provide services to students, helping a total of 4,000 students succeed in higher education, leading to a two- or four-year degree or other credential.

     TORCH was established in 2005 and was built upon extensive community collaborations.  The Northfield School District #659, the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, the Community Action Center of Northfield and a number of other local partners join together to produce results.  In the eight years of work, TORCH has grown from serving 60 students to over 300 this year in grades 6-12 and has become a state-recognized model in college access programming.