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Loretto Academy Challenge Program

Program Description

Since 2008, the Loretto Academy Challenge Program has provided a long-term, holistic approach that supports a positive and constructive environment, both inside the classroom and outside the school. The mission of the Challenge Program is to prepare students to attend and graduate from college, many of which are first in their families to do so. The Challenge Program was established to create a unique program to provide at-risk young women a legitimate opportunity to break long standing cycles of poverty.

The Loretto Academy Challenge Program's approach is to educate the whole child academically, as well as incorporating other experiences that reveal a world of opportunity. Every year, the program recruits and awards a seven year scholarship to six young women from the fifth grade level, who are academically gifted and from low-income families to attend Loretto Academy beginning their sixth grade year. The Challenge Program's philosophy is based on the belief that environment plays a central role in every child's academic success and is designed to provide young women from economically disadvantaged homes with a high quality education so they may attend college and break long standing cycles of poverty.

Success Stories

Recently an alumna wrote to the founders of the program about her first semester of college; "When I grow up I want to be like you, I want to make education a way to stop poverty and world issues. I want to change the world by education, like you changed my world." Zayecksy Morales

A second year college program alumna wrote to the founders of the program "your generosity is what gave me the opportunity to go to a great university. I currently attend St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX and this is my second year at this university. I have enjoyed my time in college and I cannot stress it enough that my smooth transition into college was because the opportunity you both gave me in high school." Lanaiah Leremia

Best Practices Library


Challenge students are recruited before the beginning of 6th grade and remain in the program through their graduation from High School.


Challenge students enter a new world of academic challenges, cultural enrichment activities, and positive social experiences that help them to develop good study skills and build their knowledge base. Through a Summer Enrichment Program, students continue to build on writing, reading, math and critical thinking skills and engage in athletics and fine art activities.


Challenge students receive intensive one-on-one and group tutoring in all subjects so that they may keep pace with their Loretto Academy colleagues during the school year. Students also receive a personal computer for school projects and homework.


Challenge students participate in field trips to college campuses, prepare for and take the SAT/ACT, complete college applications, and apply for scholarships or financial aid to support their college careers. Students are assisted by a counselor and support staff.


Challenge students participate in service learning projects that follow Loretto Academy's core values of Faith, Justice, Community, and Respect. Projects may include setting up and serving at community based Thanksgiving Dinners, volunteering at local non-profit agencies, raising funds for 3rd world country projects, or student led activities that assist less fortunate members of our community.


Each student is assigned a mentor to serve as a positive role model and provide support throughout the 7 years the student is in the program. Mentors spend quality time with the student mentee through various activities, provide guidance to the student, work closely with the student's support network, including supportive parents, and serve as a role model for the student.

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • Arts and cultural
  • Career exploration and counseling/internships
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • College transition and retention support
  • Community service/service hours
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • Leadership development
  • Mentoring
  • Parent/family services
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
  • Scholarships and last-dollar grants
  • Science, tech, engineering, & math (STEM)


Race & Ethnicity

  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 1%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 99%

Education Level and
Number of Students

  • High School: 19
  • Middle School: 17
  • Elementary School: 0
  • Post-secondary: 3
  • Non-traditional: 0

Populations Served

  • Academically High-performing


  • More than 75%

Colleges Attended
by Alumni

  • St Mary's University (2)
  • The University of Texas at El Paso (1)

Matriculation & Completion

  • 4-yr College Matriculation: 100%