The activities/initiatives that TORCH currently undertakes focus in four areas:
1. Improve Academic Success
- Tutoring: TORCH partners work individually with any TORCH student who has been identified as of in need of extra academic assistance or who has requested further help in a subject area.
- Academic Counseling: TORCH staff and partners meet individually with TORCH students to discuss their academic progress, goals for the future, academic or life challenges they are facing, and any needs they may have.
- Basic Skills Test preparation: TORCH partners and staff have provided individual and group tutoring to TORCH seniors who have not yet passed the Basic Skills Tests that are required for high school graduation.
- Evening Homework Help: TORCH has helped to support the start of a new evening homework help program. The program runs on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Greenvale Park Elementary School. The school’s computer lab and media center are open to the students.
- Study Centers at the Middle and High Schools: TORCH continues to support study centers in the Northfield Middle School and Northfield High School both during the school day and after school. These centers provide ongoing, recognized places for TORCH students to receive academic assistance from caring adults.
2. Increase Graduation Rates & Post-secondary Participation
- College Exposure Opportunities: TORCH sponsors regular opportunities for students to gain exposure to post-secondary opportunities by conducting 30+ college trips to Minnesota schools each year. Students tour campuses, meet with admissions staff, and learn about the requirements and opportunities of each higher education institution.
- College & Career Workshops: TORCH sponsors monthly workshops for students on college and career exploration topics. Sessions focus on how to prepare for college, beginning to research post-secondary opportunities, the college application process, career possibilities, and preparing for the ACT test.
- ACT Preparation: TORCH runs a successful ACT test preparation program. Students work with TORCH staff and partners, plus college tutors, over 5-10 half-day sessions to prepare for the standardized test.
- Individual Assistance with College Applications: TORCH partners work individually with each high school junior and senior to identify prospective college possibilities and to complete the required applications and financial aid forms.
- Financial Aid Assistance: TORCH has created a strong partnership with a group of students at Carleton who are part of the college’s “Inter-Faith Social Action” (IFSA) group. The IFSA students have been trained on how to complete the FAFSA and work with TORCH seniors and their families to complete this important financial aid document. The Carleton IFSA students also work with the TORCH students and TORCH staff to identify and apply for scholarships, thereby making it more possible for the TORCH seniors to attend college.
- Ongoing Communication with TORCH Graduates: TORCH partners maintain ongoing contact with TORCH graduates throughout their collegiate careers.
3. Foster Youth Leadership Development & Community Involvement
- Connections with Activities: TORCH staff continues to work individually with youth in the TORCH cohort to connect the students with out-of-school-time opportunities that match their interests and excitement.
- Cultural-Specific Leadership Programming: TORCH continues to support the development, growth, and expansion of cultural-specific leadership programs for TORCH students.
- Leadership Opportunities Locally and Beyond: TORCH partners have worked to help facilitate opportunities for TORCH students to undertake leadership opportunities by serving on boards and commissions at the local, regional, state, and national levels.
4. Enhance Family Connectedness
- Family Events: TORCH partners work to increase the number of TORCH families attending school events, such as parent-teacher conferences and Open Houses. In addition, TORCH hosts quarterly family events specifically for TORCH students and parents.
- Home Visits & Family Contacts: TORCH staff and partners conduct annual home visits with the students in the program. These provide the opportunity for parents to meet TORCH staff, share their hopes and concerns about their child, and offer ongoing feedback about the TORCH program. In addition, TORCH partners make regular telephone calls to TORCH families as a way to check in and seek continued feedback.