Public Education Foundation (PEF) is one of seven nonprofits in Tennessee awarded a $40,000 grant by the Tennessee College Access and Success Network (TCASN) to enhance year two of the SOAR Initiative. SOAR (Student Opportunities, Access and Retention) pairs peer mentors – current students at Chattanooga State Community College and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga – with incoming first-generation college students as they complete associate’s coursework at CSCC and then go on to UTC for completion of a bachelor’s degree.
“SOAR is an inspiring program because it uses a peer-to-peer mentoring model to work with students who have the motivation to attain a 4-year degree, but need extra support as they begin higher education in community college and then move to a university experience,” said Stacy Lightfoot, director of College and Career Access for PEF. “The TCASN grant will allow us to expand our leadership training of the mentors as well as create an academic success lab dedicated to helping SOAR participants succeed.”
In spring 2011, PEF launched SOAR with grant funds from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The goal of the SOAR program is to double the current rate of college access and success – with success defined as engagement, persistence and retention, and transition to the next level – among the 200 students who will participate in the four-year project. In addition to funds for more leadership training and a dedicated SOAR technology lab, the grant provides for a summer leadership retreat and monthly meetings for all SOAR participants focused on enhancing their academic as well as leadership skills, covering topics such as note-taking, test preparation, interviewing skills, and technology.
For more information about PEF and SOAR, visit pefchattanooga.org.