Two males students working together with others in the background

Pass the Torch

Spreading the Word

The need to disseminate Pass the Torch was driven by the evidence that Pass the Torch is a proven reform. By its six years of operation, the program had delivered an innovative, effective strategy to truly elevate the available level of academic support for students in need.  As of 1999, remedial Mathematics and English composition courses were discontinued for CSU students. Given Pass the Troch’s success at Foothill, disseminating it up the higher education hierarchy opened the doors to transporting a two-year college program into a statewide initiative.

In September 2003, Foothill received a Fund for the Improvement of Instruction (FIPSE) grant to disseminate Pass the Torch to four-year universities. The principal dissemination goals were to: 1) increase the success in mathematics and English composition of transfer students at the four-year institution targeting underrepresented minority students; and 2) to establish a standardized model of practice of Pass the Torch that was intersegmental across two-year and four-year institutions. This grant, allowed Pass the Torch to disseminate to four-year universities.

At the invitation of Dr. Bernadine Fong, President of Foothill, the University of California Davis and the University of California Berkeley agreed to become adapting universities of the Foothill College’s Pass the Torch. The adopting universities’ Pass the Torch programs were a success. UC Davis Pass the Torch program established within their Learning Skills Center provided a variety of academic and personal support services to their Pass the Torch students. One of their goals was to promote resources and services that will help Pass the Torch students achieve both their academic and professional goals. Team Leaders received high evaluation ratings in attitude, competency, independence, and overall experience by Team Members.

Pass the Torch at UC Berkeley was formed around a community of students interested in graduate school and careers utilizing their background in mathematics. Most students were majoring in Math, sixty percent were underrepresented minorities, and all were low income. Additionally, ninety percent were first-generation college students. The principal activities of Pass the Torch at UC Berkeley were to engage students in research, apply for graduate school, engaged students in mathematics internships, and apply for math-related jobs.

The grant outreach efforts were directed to Community Colleges located within the feeder areas of the two U.C. campuses with the purpose of creating a pipeline between Pass the Torch in the community colleges and the four-year universities. Through this pipeline, community colleges offered students transferring to those colleges greater support in their transfer efforts. The universities, on the other hand, increased their awareness of these students’ needs and responded with development of expanded resources to address the students’ needs. The FIPSE grant ended in June 2005.

Dissemination of Pass the Torch 1) increased transfer of underrepresented student groups to the University of California system 2) facilitated the success and retention of adopting institutions’ students in English and Mathematics, and 3) provided a standardized format for a wide range of intersegmental initiatives by the adoption of Pass the Torch in the community college, California State University and University of California systems. This intersegmental standardization increased the transfer and success after transfer of community college students.

The adoption of Pass the Torch program in four-year universities, changed the paradigm that reform must come from the top down in the California higher education system, but from the bottom up given that community colleges sit at the base of the pyramid in the California Master Plan of higher education.


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Pass the Torch Program


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