Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) in partnership with Winona State University-Rochester (WSU-R) and Project Legacy received a $120,000 grant from the Minnesota State system to administer the Legacy Scholars Program. The program will serve 25 at-risk young adults of color who require access to education assistance, mental health services, basic needs, addiction services, and case management. While serving both RCTC and WSU-R students, the program will be housed on the RCTC campus to ensure that the students have easy access to the provided services.


“This partnership with WSU-R and Project Legacy will not only afford us the opportunity to directly impact the lives of 25 at-risk students, but also allow us to recognize when our institutional construct is creating barriers rather than opportunities. Removing these barriers can produce systemic changes and impact the success of many future students.”

RCTC Interim Vice President of Student Affairs, Teresa Brown, PhD.


Karen Edmonds, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Project Legacy, adds, “The mission of Project Legacy is to provide connections and access to resources and supports, so that youth of color can overcome barriers and achieve their dreams for a brighter future. The partnership with RCTC and WSU-R is the right collaboration, at the right time, to create a pathway to generational change and the creation of a positive legacy for future generations.”


Olmsted County has seen a significant increase in populations of ethnic and racial minorities in recent years. Minorities now make up almost 17% of Olmsted County’s total population. These changing demographics are reflected in RCTC’s growing population of students of color. The percentage of RCTC students that are of color increased from 20.9% in 2014 to 28.4% in 2019. This shift in student population intensifies the need to remove achievement gaps that exist between students of color and their white peers on both the RCTC and WSU-R campuses.


Because Project Legacy employs staff of color with similar life experiences, program participants place their trust in them to help navigate life’s journey. This approach allows Project Legacy to closely mentor and guide students through their education and career path by removing barriers and providing support, which improves retention, increases graduation rates, and eliminates opportunity and student success gaps that currently deter many students of color from attending and/or completing a college education.


The expected result of this collaboration is a 90% retention and graduation rate for the students in the Legacy Scholars program. The partnership hopes that the success of this first cohort of students will lead to additional funding moving forward. This work is associated with RCTC’s strategic plan through the efforts of the Equity and Inclusion Committee and WSU’s strategic plan through the Diversity and Inclusion group. It is also in alignment with Minnesota State’s Equity 2030 initiative.


For further information about RCTC’s Legacy Scholars program, contact RCTC Interim Vice President of Student Affairs, Teresa Brown, PhD at teresa.brown@rctc.edu or 507-285-7217.

Established in 1915, RCTC is the largest higher education provider in the fastest-growing city in Minnesota, serving more than 8,000 students a year in credit courses and nearly 3,700 in non-credit continuing and workforce education programs. RCTC combines the best in liberal arts, technical, and life-long learning with more than 70 credit-based programs and over 100 credential options. RCTC’s expansive 518-acre campus includes university partnerships, a diverse student body, and a vibrant student life program. RCTC provides a unique learning environment that offers the feel of a four-year university campus with the commitment to access and opportunity of a two-year college.

Winona State University – Rochester offers a wider variety of programming for both transfer and graduate students. Whether it’s business, computer science, education, nursing, social work, or individualized studies – we are proud to continue serving the southeast region of Minnesota with distinction. We endeavor to provide students with individual paths to continue their education and make an impact in the community around them, just as our alumni have been for the past 100 years. Through offering upper level transfer course programs to complete your bachelor’s degree, as well as a number of graduate programs, we aim to tailor the educational experience to each individual student’s career goals.

Project Legacy’s mission is to provide hope, connections and support to youth and young adults of color who may have experienced poverty, trauma, homelessness and sexual exploitation; or who are sex workers, refugees from war-torn countries, or any young person who has not had a positive support system; allowing them to heal from trauma, transform their lives, and become involved members of our community. Project Legacy works with young people of all races and ethnicities who are motivated and willing to participate in the process of transforming their lives and legacies. For further information about Project Legacy, contact Co-Founder and Executive Director Karen Edmonds at kedmonds@projectlegacymn.org or 507-254-3387.