Two males students working together with others in the background

Pass the Torch


Passing Knowledge Forward Since 1994

Pass the Torch began in 1994 with a California Community College Chancellor’s Grant under the direction of Foothill counselor Dr. Jean Thomas.

From its very inception, it had its own facility. Pass the Torch was inspired by the University of California, Berkeley Professional Development Program begun by Uri Treisman.

In 1996, Foothill received a three year FIPSE grant to continue the program. However, instead of group teams as in the U.C. Berkeley model, Foothill students are matched in one-on-one study teams. The teams are trained to work cooperatively. Study skill ideas are exchanged and other enhancements are introduced that circumvent the traditional hierarchical relationship of tutor/tutee. The name, Pass the Torch, is intended to give the message that all students can pass on their knowledge to someone else once they have succeeded.
In 1999, the program received a second grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s office under the Underrepresented Special Students Program Fund (USSPF). These funds increased outreach effect to underrepresented minority students.

Awards and Accolades

Pass the Torch has received numerous awards and accolades. In 1999, the program received the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Exemplary Program Award. In 2000, the Director and Founder received Foothill’s Outstanding Service Award and in 2002 the California Community College Out of the Box Thinker Award and was Foothill’s nominee for the California Community College Outstanding Faculty of the Year. Additionally, the two program instructors received Teacher Excellence Awards in 1999 and 2000.

Most recently, in 2012, Pass the Torch received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Association of Santa Clara Valley "Movers of Mountain Award" for its “excellent contributions to the community, and for exemplifying the life, legend, legacy, and mission of the beloved, late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Kathleen Flynn, Vice President of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Association of Santa Clara Valley.

The phenomenal success of Pass the Torch has prompted other divisions to adopt the Pass the Torch model in their respective programs.  Tutor Training courses developed a new curriculum. It was the first Foothill class to be cross-referenced between English and Mathematics departments.

In September 2003, Foothill received a Fund for the Improvement of Instruction (FIPSE) grant to disseminate Pass the Torch 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 colleges of the Foothill College’s Pass the Torch. The FIPSE grant ended in June 2005. 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.

Help Us Continue Our Legacy

Pass the Torch legacy has endured many challenges and continues to prove itself with its unique one-on-one study team emphasis, to be a program that makes a difference in Foothill College students’ academic success.

Please consider donating to this program through our Foothill-De Anza Foundation.

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About Founder Jean Thomas

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Please Contact Us!

Pass the Torch Program


3600 Building, Office 3609


Monday–Thursday: 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m.–Noon
Closed: Holidays, Recesses & Summer
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