Foundation Targets Higher Ed Achievement Gap

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The 2015-2016 participants were nominated by school administrators. The 2015-2016 participants were nominated by school administrators.

An Indianapolis-based nonprofit is taking aim at the achievement gap for underserved women in higher education. Pass the Torch for Women Foundation launched a pilot program last year called Project Grow to address issues ranging from mentoring to transition into the work force. The organization says success in its first year has led to increased donations and the ability to make the program available to students at all local higher education institutions this academic year.

Pass the Torch for Women Foundation focuses specifically on low-income and first-generation women students. The foundation says a study on the pilot run of its Project Grow program suggested participant growth in four areas: employment and school success, self-efficacy and self-esteem, feelings of receiving high-quality mentoring and the number of skills and attitudes necessary for success in the workplace.

Ivy Tech Community College Office of Student Life and Development Assistant Director Amanda Bremmer says she has seen students "grow and achieve new heights" under the program. In a release, she said the program has "given our students the confidence to run for student leadership positions, serve on school committees and graduate from Ivy Tech with job offers and/or transfer to a four-year institution.":

In addition to expanding to other Indianapolis-area institutions, the foundation is partnering with Ivy Tech to bring the program to its Fort Wayne campus. Ultimately, Pass the Torch hopes to expand its services nationwide.

Last month, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education issued a report showing more Indiana students are graduating from college. However, Commissioner Teresa Lubbers said the state was still "nowhere close to where we need to be" in closing the achievement gap for minority students. You can see the full report by clicking here.

You can see videos Pass the Torch for Women created for six of its pilot participants by clicking here.

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