Tacoma, Wash. – Degrees of Change is proud to announce Saint Martin’s University as the newest college partner in Act Six, a leadership development and scholarship initiative that identifies, trains and supports the region’s most promising urban students as transformative campus and community leaders. As an Act Six partner, Saint Martin’s will provide full-tuition, full-need scholarships for a cohort of seven diverse urban leaders from across the Puget Sound each year.

An independent, four-year, Benedictine university located in Lacey, Washington, Saint Martin’s University joins Gonzaga University, Northwest University, Pacific Lutheran University and Whitworth University to become the fifth college partner in the Tacoma-Seattle Act Six network, increasing to 29 the number of Act Six scholars selected annually across the region.

“We are excited to join the Act Six network. With a longstanding commitment to diversity and equity, centered on our Benedictine values of community and respect for others, Saint Martin’s recognizes the talent and leadership of the diverse students in our region’s urban communities. We are eager to leverage the university’s educational resources as an investment in the next generation of leadership for our surrounding cities,” says Saint Martin’s President Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D.

Degrees of Change President Tim Herron, Ed.D., adds, “Saint Martin’s is an exceptional local university with a strong track record of serving underrepresented students and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Act Six network. Saint Martin’s will offer a unique and powerful educational experience for Act Six scholars. Given the close alignment of the university’s mission with the mission of Degrees of Change, we look forward to joining forces to invest even more deeply in transformative leaders for our urban communities.”

Students interested in Act Six at Saint Martin’s can apply online at by November 6, 2018. The first cohort of Saint Martin’s Act Six scholars will be announced in March and enroll in fall 2019.


About Act Six

Act Six is a cohort-based, leadership development and scholarship program develops urban leaders to be agents of transformation on campus and in their home communities. Since the program’s inception in 2002, more than 800 ethnically diverse and mostly first-generation, low-income Act Six scholarship recipients from Tacoma, Seattle, Yakima and Spokane, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Minneapolis-St Paul, Minn.; Chicago, Il.; and Indianapolis, Ind. have enrolled at thirteen private colleges and universities.

Act Six develops leaders through a simple, but powerful, four-step strategy:

  1. Recruit and select diverse, multicultural cadres of the most promising urban and community student leaders.
  2. Train and prepare these groups of students in the year prior to college, equipping them to support each other, succeed academically and grow as service-minded leaders and agents of transformation.
  3. Send and fund the cadres together to select faith- and social justice-based colleges on full-tuition, full-need scholarships.
  4. Support and inspire by providing strong campus support, ongoing leadership development and vocational connections to inspire scholars to serve their home communities.

While 87% of Act Six scholars come from low-income families or are the first generation in their family to attend college, 82% percent earn their bachelor’s degrees within six years, more than doubling the rate for low-income, first-generation students nationwide. Nearly two-thirds of the program’s graduates are working or serving back in their home communities and among alumni who have been out of college for three or more years, 31% have earned a post-graduate degree or credential. Learn more about Act Six at

About Degrees of Change

Degrees of Change is a not-for-profit organization based in Tacoma, Washington, that prepares diverse, homegrown leaders to succeed in college and use their degrees to build more vibrant and equitable communities. Degrees of Change partners with community organizations, high schools, colleges and employers to provide cohort-based leadership training, college success support, career development and alumni programming to underrepresented students who desire to lead and serve their home communities. As both a national backbone organization and local, direct service provider in Tacoma-Seattle, Degrees of Change provides and utilizes research-based programming, cutting-edge evaluation and data tools, and innovative operational systems and technical assistance to support all aspects of its integrated programs. Learn more at

About Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Learn more at


Tim Herron, Ed.D., Act Six Founder and President, Degrees of Change
(253) 444-0010, [email protected]

Kevin Hyde, Media Relations Manager, Saint Martin’s University
(360) 412-6126, [email protected]

Degrees of Change Founder Tim Herron Receives Executive Leadership Award of Excellence at 2017 NCAN Convention

TACOMA, WA – On Monday, September 11, Degrees of Change founder and president Tim Herron was bestowed the Executive Leadership Award of Excellence at the 2017 National College Access Network (NCAN) national conference in San Diego, Calif. The award, given annually, honors a leader from a college access program who has shown significant dedication and hard work towards their organization, the community they serve, and the field of college access. The recipient receives a $1,000 award in support of a new, one-time scholarship made in the winner’s honor.

The Executive Leadership Award of Excellence celebrates the impact that Herron has had on the lives of hundreds of students, their families, and multiple communities since he created the Act Six program in 2002 and founded Degrees of Change in 2011. Over the last 15 years, Act Six has graduated more than 80% of its scholars within a six-year completion period, more than twice the national average for underrepresented students, and a full 15% higher than overall graduation rates at colleges and universities Act Six scholars attend.

“From the beginning, Tim Herron has been living and leading this vision of college access, community engagement, and quantifiable outcomes for our students,” said Bradd Busick, Degrees of Change board chair. “This award is a nod toward that effort and excites our entire team given that we are only just beginning to measure the genuine impact in the lives of our students and their communities.”

“This award is a testament to the staff and networks of Degrees of Change and the amazing commitment we collectively have for this important work,” said Tim Herron, Degrees of Change founder and president. “There is no greater honor than the privilege of walking alongside our students and families, as not only our scholars become college graduates but as they become the incredible, diverse leaders our communities desperately need.”

In addition to the successful Act Six program, Degrees of Change developed FOYOST (Follow Your Student), an easy-to-use student visualizer web application. FOYOST enables organizations and school districts to input student detail files from the National College Clearing House and receive actionable student enrollment, persistence, and completion data within minutes.

Most recently, Tim and the Degrees of Change team have unveiled Ready to Rise, the second student-facing program from the organization. Ready to Rise leverages the Act Six model of sending cohorts of students to college together, along with leadership development efforts and partnerships with community nonprofits, to help a wider array of students complete their degrees at two- and four-year public schools. Ready to Rise is expected to create significant scale on an already successful cohort model, and is in the first year of a five-year launch term, made possible by a $3.4 million investment by College Spark Washington.


Degrees of Change is a national not-for-profit organization founded and based in Tacoma, Washington that helps communities and colleges develop networks of diverse, well-educated, mission-minded leaders by sending students to college together in cohorts while empowering them to grow as leaders, complete their degrees, and connect their talents and efforts to make their home communities more vibrant and equitable. In doing so, DoC increases success in higher education among students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education, particularly low-income students, students of color, and first-generation college students. Learn more at

Act Six Aims to Provide New Faces in Leadership – NCAN

We are excited to share with you all that Act Six was featured in the latest National College Access Network newsletter, announcing the in-depth program case study that NCAN just published. Act Six was one of four programs selected nationally for these profiles as part of NCAN’s Benchmarking Project, based on the exceptional graduation rates of our participants.

In the report, Bill DeBaun, NCAN Director of Data and Evaluation, points out that Act Six achieves six-year graduation rates of over 80 percent and almost two-thirds of Act Six’s graduates return to their home communities to advance positive changes. Ann Coles, senior fellow at uAspire and the author of the case studies, noted that, “Act Six’s success is attributable in large measure to the organization’s fidelity to its defining elements: cohorts as a core structure, the importance of cultural integrity, intensive leadership training, and fostering a strong sense of purpose.”

The report is a testimony to the extraordinary work that we collectively undertake to inspire and support our amazing Act Six leaders. To learn more about the program and its results, you can download the full report here.

Degrees of Change awarded five-year, $3.4 million grant from College Spark Washington to help 1,000 low-income students successfully transition to college, earn degrees and give back to their communities

TACOMA, WA – Degrees of Change announced it was awarded a five-year, $3.4 million grant from College Spark Washington to help more low-income students stay on track and graduate from college while inspiring them to use their degrees to give back to their communities. The Together through College project aims to serve 1,000 students from four Washington communities as they attend public two- and four-year colleges across the state.

Many low-income and first-generation students begin college without a support network of friends or family members familiar with college life. This reality can create a sense of isolation when students encounter the inherent challenges of a new college environment and it contributes to substantially lower degree completion rates for students from these groups.

Together through College will utilize a cohort-based model in which students graduating from the same community and heading off to the same college are grouped together to receive a range of services including peer and adult mentoring, college readiness and academic supports, help in navigating college-based services, and leadership training. The model calls on a collaborative effort between community-based organizations and colleges to improve the success of local college students.

“A key feature of cohort-based programs it that participating students develop a close network of peers who provide mutual support and accountability,” said Tim Herron, president of Degrees of Change. “This program helps students develop a sense of purpose that incorporates the goals of earning a college degree and giving back to their communities.”

Together to College extends the proven success of Act Six, the flagship initiative of Degrees of Change. For the past 13 years, local community organizations across the country have utilized the Act Six model to support cohorts of underrepresented students at private colleges as they earn their degrees and return home as leaders in their communities. The new project extends this success to greater numbers of students at a wider range of colleges and universities.

“We support organizations and ideas that are making progress on postsecondary persistence and completion rates for low-income students,” said Christine McCabe, executive director at College Spark Washington. “Degrees of Change and its community partners have shown evidence of effectiveness and a track record of success with innovative and bold strategies.”

Recruitment for the first cohorts of Together through College scholars begins in the fall of 2016.


Degrees of Change is a national not-for-profit organization founded and based in Tacoma, Washington that helps communities and colleges develop networks of diverse, well-educated, mission-minded leaders by sending students to college together in cohorts while empowering them to grow as leaders, complete their degrees, and connect their talents and efforts to make their home communities more vibrant and equitable. In doing so, DoC increases success in higher education among students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education, particularly low-income students, students of color, and first-generation college students. Learn more at

College Spark Washington funds programs across Washington state that help low-income students become college-ready and earn their degrees. Grantees include community-based organizations, K-12 schools and districts, community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, educational nonprofits, and public agencies. College Spark began supporting access to higher education in 1978 and, since 2005, has awarded more than $45 million to college readiness and degree completion programs throughout the state. Learn more at