Student Spotlight: Grace Essuah-Mensah

Grace Essuah-Mensah is founder of Girls Who Lead, which started as a response to the lack of representation of African American Women in healthcare and leadership roles. Grace is a senior at Chesapeake Math and IT Academy in Prince Georges County, Maryland. She was born and raised in Maryland, and has family from Ghana, Liberia, and Senegal. She is a member of the National Honors Society, tutors fellow high school students, and serves as a Peer Leader with College Summit (PeerForward).

Read her interview here:
NHS & NJHS Girls Who Lead
Class of 2022: Know someone who needs to check financial aid off their to-do list? ✅ Join our partners at PeerForward for a FAFSA Night on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. to complete the application and for a chance to win prizes! RSVP today at:
Throughout college Isabel has worked on developing educational arts programming for children through PICS, the Pace Center, and IIP. She looks forward to continuing the work of education equity as the P55 Fellow at PeerForward this year. Read her full bio here:
We've compiled some tried-and-true strategies for community-based organizations to engage in right now to help high school seniors stay on track for a postsecondary pathway.

Explore the "FINISH Strong" guide here:

(Featuring insights, strategies, and tools from: CollegeBound Foundation College Now Greater Cleveland Education is Freedom Be A Leader Foundation College Advising Corps Ask Benji Iowa College Aid uAspire National Student Clearinghouse Ready to Rise Chicago GEAR UP PeerForward Urban Foundation Broward County Public Schools Get2College The College Crusade of Rhode Island)
Racial inequality is a longstanding problem in the United States. Nowhere is it more obvious than in our education systems. Change has been a long time coming is still slow-moving, but it is happening. There are institutions out there that have taken the initiative to bring about this change by offering African American students who are headed to college the resources they need to succeed. Colleges and institutions, like Georgetown University's Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies Program, which assists bright young black men and women who are entering medical school, and the National CARES Mentoring Movement - National Office, which has assisted more than 200,000 students by setting them up with mentors to help them successfully navigate their chosen paths, are not just waiting for change, they are creating it. Some of the other 30 institutions on this list who are making a huge impact are:
National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)
Penn State
Graduation Alliance
Starr Commonwealth
Beyond 12
The University of Mississippi - Ole Miss
Year Up
The City University of New York
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Thurgood Marshall College Fund
And, coming in at the number one spot is UNCF, which has helped more than half-a-million African American students achieve their educational dreams!
A huge shout out to these and all of the institutions who appear in this ranking. And thank you for being the voice of change for African American students across the nation! Check out the full ranking by clicking on the link below!
You are invited!!
My uncle (Rubén)is fighting a war against COVID-19 AND he needs to undergo surgery due to him having a cyst on his femoral. I call on you, my community, to donate to his cause, his war. Not only has my uncle lost sensation from the waist down and is unable to walk, but he has also had difficulty breathing. We all know (someway, somehow) the devastating consequences COVID-19 can have. I do not wish to lose another uncle due to this virus. Please, help. Help my family and I cover some of the medical expenses and help us keep and/or strenghten our faith. If you would like to do more for my uncle and/or something else, please let me know. Thank you to all who took the time to read this and support my uncle. Much love, peace, and health. 💙

Mi tío (Rubén) está luchando en una guerra contra el COVID-19 Y que necesita someterse a una cirugía debido a que tiene un quiste en el fémur. Les pido a ustedes, mi comunidad, que donen a su causa, su guerra. Mi tío no solo ha perdido la sensibilidad de la cintura para abajo y no pude caminar, sino que también ha tenido dificultad para respirar. Todos sabemos (de alguna manera) las devastadores consecuencias que puede tener COVID-19. No deseo perder a otro tío debido a este virus. Por favor, ayude. Ayude a mi familia y a mí a cubrir algunos de los gastos médicos y ayudemos a mantener y/o fortalecer nuestra fe. Si a usted le gustaría hacer más por mi tío y/o algo más, por favor hágamelo saber. Gracias a todos que tomaron el tiempo para leer esto y apoyar a mi tío. Mucho amor, paz, y salud. 💙
We know zoom fatigue is real, but pay attention in class 🗣️ Be intentional in every aspect of your time in college from lectures to networking. By finding your community at school, you’re building your network! Watch our newest and last 2020 episode where we invited two of our amazing partners, Gary Linnen from PeerForward and AiLun Ku from The Opportunity Network. Click to find this episode and all 7 episodes out now:
Project 55 Fellows continue social impact work beyond one-year... Connor Bridges '19 will continue working with PeerForward in DC for a second year where he will help guide first-generation, low-income students to college. Read his full bio here:
A new report from Bellwether Education Partners explores how nonprofits, school districts, and other community partners can improve postsecondary outcomes at greater scale 👉🏾

We're thrilled to see the work of many NCAN members highlighted, including Achieve Atlanta, College Advising Corps, iMentor, PeerForward, and uAspire! CC: Gates Foundation & The Kresge Foundation
“I always knew college was something I wanted to pursue, but after participating in the PeerForward program, it changed from a far-off goal to something that felt attainable and realistic."

RGV FOCUS works side by side with local leaders to transform college readiness, access and success in the Rio Grande Valley. Learn more about our work with the PeerForward program to lift up students as peer leaders:
“I always knew college was something I wanted to pursue, but after participating in the PeerForward program, it changed from a far-off goal to something that felt attainable and realistic."

RGV FOCUS works side by side with local leaders to transform college readiness, access and success in the Rio Grande Valley. Learn more about our work with the PeerForward program to lift up students as peer leaders:

PeerForward connects youth living in low-income communities to college and career through positive p

PeerForward is a national nonprofit that creates a corps of high school students who lead their peers to and through college.

Operating as usual


New year. New goals. New chances. The best is yet to come!



This holiday season, our supporters have been stepping up and giving back!👏 We want to give a special thanks to John Ortiz for his continued support and LAByrinth Theater Company NYC for highlighting our organization!

Timeline photos 12/26/2022

Don't worry...we'll be back soon. See you in the New Year!

Timeline photos 12/22/2022

Season’s greetings and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and joyous holiday season! ❤️


Leadership isn’t his only strength! 💪

Charles H Flowers High School Senior Peer Leader Benjamin “Big Ben” Johnson has been named a 2022 USA Boxing National Champion. With this win, he will represent Team USA against other countries.

Alongside winning 11 National Championships and being ranked #1 in the Youth Men's Divison, Benjamin helps run campaigns at Charles H Flowers High school to make college more accessible to his peers.

Photos from College Board's post 12/20/2022

Be sure to check out these great scholarship opportunities! The deadlines are approaching fast!

Photos from PeerForward's post 12/20/2022

Krystal’s PeerForward workshop “ignited the flame” of leadership in her. Now, she uses that power to serve others. In 2023, she’ll spend 10 months leading volunteer hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico with AmeriCorps! Want to read more about Krystal's story? You can read the full blog post here:

PeerForward needs your support this holiday season to ensure that promising leaders like Krystal can guide the next generation of Peer Leaders. Make a gift today and help us reach our $1000 goal. Every gift makes a difference!

Gifts can be made here:

Photos from The Mirrors Programme's post 12/20/2022

Photos from The Mirrors Programme's post

Photos from PeerForward's post 12/19/2022

Need some ? Meet Danyela, one of our Peer Leaders from Vanguard Rembrandt Secondary School. Danyela matched with Stanford University through the Questbridge Scholarship!

She wasn’t alone in her journey.

With the support of her PeerForward team and peers she completed the application and was matched alongside her classmate Carlos! They’ll continue their education at Stanford in the fall. This is the peer-to-peer influence we like to see from our Peer Leaders!

Danyela gave us this advice to take into the new year: “My advice is to apply to every opportunity you are presented with. Never discount yourself from opportunities. Don’t let doubts stop you from reaching your goals.” Congratulations, Danyela! 🥳


Photos from PeerForward's post 12/16/2022

Sophie shows us that every Peer Leader has their own unique power to share. Not only is she a Martin County High School Peer Leader, she’s the 2022 Google Doodle contest winner! Her powerful influence earned her school a $50,000 tech package.

We chatted with Sophie about how she leverages her passions for art and education to be a leader for her community. You can read the full Q&A here:

Want to help Peer Leaders like Sophie get the resources they need to succeed? Consider making a gift to PeerForward.

Photos from PeerForward's post 12/15/2022

Congratulations to Senior class of 2023 on applying to 🥳 We are so glad your first PeerForward campaign was a success!

“Our goal is to enroll 100% of seniors to college, step by step and the help of our PeerFoward team we are going to be able to do it.”

Olivet College scholarship offers free tuition to qualifying students 12/14/2022

Olivet College scholarship offers free tuition to qualifying students

When college is affordable, it's accessible.

A new scholarship program at Olivet College in Michigan is aiming to ensure more students have access to a college education. The J.W. Sexton High School PeerForward Team spent time with Governor Gretchen Whitmer (MI) as she announced this exciting development in college access for first-generation, low-income students. Equipped with this information, Sexton Peer Leaders will run school-wide events to guide their peers towards opportunities like those at Olivet College.

Olivet College scholarship offers free tuition to qualifying students The Olivet College ADVANTAGE Scholarship is made possible by the Michigan Achievement Scholarship Program.

Photos from PeerForward's post 12/13/2022

Here’s some great news for your timeline!

The CedarBridge Academy PeerForward team had a successful Apply Day! Peer Leaders played a role hosting the college application event that encourages every student in the to apply to college. Thanks to these Peer Leaders, more CedarBridge S4 students are pursuing higher education.

This , leave them a shout out in the comments!


Grantee Spotlight: PeerForward

PeerForward maximizes the power of positive peer influence to transform the lives of students in low-income communities by connecting them to college and career.

Learn more at

Photos from PeerForward's post 12/12/2022

The Jensen Beach PeerForward team has a motto:

never stops, just like a phoenix, JBHS Peer Leaders rise up 🔥🔥🔥

The Jensen Beach High School PeerForward team is a on a mission to guide more of their peers to higher education. Through student-led events, these Peer Leaders are helping the rise up!


It's FAFSA Friday!

Today we're celebrating with High Point High School Peer Leaders who held a successful FAFSA night last month. By helping their classmates complete the FAFSA early, Peer Leaders are unlocking thousands of dollars in additional aid for the

Photos from PeerForward's post 12/08/2022

What's the secret to PeerForward teams finishing the semester strong?

Fall Training Camps! PeerForward teams meet regionally to receive crucial Peer Leader training for the fall semester. At training camps, Peer Leaders:

✅ Find team roles that fit their personality
✅ Practice having conversations about life after high school
✅ Plan school-wide events
✅ Take the Peer Leader pledge

Read more about this Fall Training Camp season at the link in our bio!

Photos from PeerForward's post 12/01/2022

Come Home for the Holidays!❄️☃️

Home for the Holidays is the signature PeerForward event that encourages Alumni to reconnect during December in the FL, DC, NY, and now SoCal area!

Swipe 👉 for some familiar faces we hope to see there!

Join us for Good Vibes, Fun Times, and Great Company!

RSVP for entry:


Conference Room - 3rd floor at PeerForward Office - 1140 3rd St NE, Washington, DC 20002

WeWork Office Space & Coworking - 8 W 126tth St, New York, NY 10027

Dave and Busters - 3000 Oakwood Blvd, Hollywood, Fl 33020

El Tejano - 11122 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

Photos from NBA Foundation's post 11/30/2022

Did you hear? PeerForward was among one of 12 new grants awarded by the NBA Foundation! We are thrilled to be among these incredible organizations.

Timeline photos 11/30/2022


The NBA Foundation selected PeerForward to receive a grant this season! We are thrilled to have their support in amplifying our work guiding more students to higher education by tapping a resource found in every single school: influential students.

Thanks to the NBA Foundation's multiyear partnership, PeerForward will expand opportunities for Peer Leaders and provide additional resources to meet the needs of students across the U.S. and Bermuda.

Learn more:


Peer Leaders like Niya are using their superpowers to make an impact. You can too.

“My optimism is a superpower. I'm learning how to organize a group of young women and take action." Niya and hundreds of Peer Leaders are taking action to increase college readiness at their schools.

This , unleash the power of generosity. Today through December 31st, PeerForward is raising $1,000 to provide Peer Leaders with the tools and resources they need to boost college preparation and enrollment across their entire school.

Every gift makes an impact.


This , make generosity your superpower!

We asked Peer Leaders how they use their superpowers to support their teammates and peers. And we loved their answers.

Our campaign, Every Person Has Power reminds us that we all have the power to positively impact others. How will you choose to make a positive impact?

Consider making a donation to PeerForward and support hundreds of Peer Leaders making a positive impact!

Timeline photos 11/29/2022

It's and PeerForward has nearly 800 trained Peer Leaders who need your support!

Peer Leaders organize student-led events to help their peers continue their education after high school. PeerForward teams use the power of positive influence to bring educational equity to their schools.

This , use the power of generosity to support PeerForward. Your gift will increase the impact of Peer Leaders and bring thousands of students closer to a postsecondary degree!


Together, we give. Join us for

We’re celebrating Giving Tuesday by kicking off our Every Person Has Power campaign. We’re bringing you the stories of Peer Leaders and Alumni who are using their superpower to change the world around them.

Tomorrow through December 31st, you can support PeerForward as we raise $1,000 to increase the impact of our Peer Leaders across the U.S and Bermuda.

Timeline photos 11/24/2022

PeerForward has a lot to be grateful for. It starts with you.

It’s been an exciting year for us; we returned to in-person workshops with our partners at Nazareth College, expanded our PeerForward model to high schools in Hawaii, Michigan, and Kentucky, and PeerForward in College has proven to help students persist in college.

All of this is possible because of our Peer Leaders, alums, volunteers, staff, partners, and supporters.

With this community, we’ve guided more than 500,000 students on their journey to higher education. We'll inspire and impact thousands more in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Together.

So, thank you.

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/23/2022

College, FAFSA, and food…

Those are the only three things on the Eleanor Roosevelt PeerForward team’s mind before Thanksgiving break.

We grateful for our PeerForward teams who continue to plan community-wide college access events for their classmates. The Eleanor Roosevelt team is preparing to welcome their classmates back after break with a college readiness and financial aid event on November 30th.

Save us a plate! Way to 🔥

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/22/2022

Scholarships 🟰 Free Money

There’s no way around it, college is expensive. So we’re here to tell you about our favorite scholarships available right now.

There’s something for everyone - college students, high school students, and transfer students, so check it out!

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/21/2022

November is National College Application Month. With many application deadlines approaching, our PeerForward teams are working hard to help their class apply to three or more colleges.

Like our St. Barnabas High School team who toured of Mercy College last week and inspired their classmates to apply!

Now with their Junior Peer Leaders, the Saint Barnabas team is inspiring even more of their school to prepare for life after high school.

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/18/2022

Filed ✅ Submitted ✅ Complete ✅

However you say it, they made it happen. The at the Vanguard Academy of Texas filed their FAFSA early! Nearly every school has reported 100% FAFSA completion. We're so proud of the work that the Beethoven Go, Mozart Go, and Rembrandt Go PeerForward Teams put in to make this happen. A special shout-out to the incredible advisors and educators who support them!

What a way to spend a FAFSA Friday, way to !


PeerForward Leaders came together on Nov. 3rd for a training day with PeerForward coaches Tim Spicer and Lou Senatus. Throughout the day, these thoughtful Kentucky Community & Technical College System students improved their leadership skills, practiced the IDEAL Framework to understand mentorship, and learned about student needs and opportunities alongside campus staff. We're thankful for their willingness to serve and help their peers to succeed!

(Photo, from L to R: Tim Spicer of PeerForward, Vickie Washington, Jonas Thomas, Caleb Croley, Lou Senatus of PeerForward, Josh Croley, Grace White, Breana Stamper, and Amy Profe Chalmers of Prosper Appalachia)


We’ve got BIG news!

Philanthropist, MacKenzie Scott awarded PeerForward in her latest round of gifts to community-based non-profit organizations.

This gift recognizes the power students have to lead change! Thanks to Ms. Scott, PeerForward teams everywhere will continue to have a positive impact on their communities.

Full story:

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/14/2022

These Peer Leaders were ACCEPTED 🎉

Events like the Charles H. Flowers College Application Night provide an opportunity for all students to plan for life after high school. Thanks again to our partners at Prince George's County Public Schools for a wonderful event.

For our Peer Leaders at Dr. Henry Wise High School and Suitland High School, this event also provided them with the first of many college acceptances. Congratulations, Peer Leaders!

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/11/2022

The PeerForward team at "47" The American Sign Language & English Secondary School did their thing last week!

They helped their senior class file their FAFSA and apply to college in ONE EVENT! We wanted to end the week celebrating the drive and dedication their team showed during their Financial Aid Night.

Congrats to all the seniors who've successfully filed for FAFSA! And another huge shout out to the parents and educators who supported them.


New scholarship for PeerForward Alumni graduating from college

PeerForward is excited to continue supporting our alumni and students impacted by the PeerForward program.

We are excited to announce that we have received $50,000 to provide emergency funding to any College Summit/PeerForward alumni graduating with an undergraduate degree from December 2022 – May 2023. Eligible students must be former Peer Leaders or graduated from a PeerForward high school.

Interested in learning more? Visit: or contact Managing Director of Operations, Renee Tribbett, at [email protected]!

New scholarship for PeerForward Alumni graduating from college On behalf of PeerForward, we are excited to announce that we have received $50,000 to provide emergency funding to any College Summit/PeerForward alumni graduating with an undergraduate degree from December 2022 - May 2023. This scholarship is available to former Peer Leaders or students who graduat...



The Charles H. Flowers High School PeerForward team will be there to support their peers as they prepare for the next step in their postsecondary journey. If you're located in the Prince George's County School District, get ready at the College Application Night with all of our magnificent partners!

TOMORROW — Families of high school seniors: join us Thursday for a college application night at Charles H. Flowers High School from 6 - 8:30 p.m. Meet with 30+ college + university admissions reps with potential for onsite admittance & waived app fees!

More info:

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/09/2022

Welcome to the team, Juniors!

That’s right, our PeerForward teams are getting bigger and better. Advisors and Senior Peer Leaders recruited the to their teams in order to guide more students to higher education.

At Fall Training Camps in Kentucky, New York, Texas, Michigan, the DMV, and Bermuda, Junior Peer Leaders found new roles and pledged to build a college-going culture for their entire school.


Peer Leaders ramp up Campaign Apply during National College Application Month

November is National and our PeerForward teams are fired up.

This month, teams across the country and in Bermuda will host college application events aimed at guiding the Class of 2023 through applying to three or more colleges. PeerForward teams work alongside school counselors to increase their college advising capacities. Read how in our new blog post!

Peer Leaders ramp up Campaign Apply during National College Application Month Unleash the Power of Peers - PeerForward

Photos from PeerForward's post 11/01/2022

Lights… Camera… ACTION 🎥

The Suitland High School PeerForward team were the stars of their FAFSA Movie Night. The price of admission for the spooky movie classic? An FSA ID so seniors could start filing the FAFSA.

Seriously, PeerForward teams are getting creative! They’re finding new ways to influence their peer towards a path to success. That starts with filing their FAFSA early and applying to 3+ colleges/trade schools.

Way to , Suitland! 👻

Photos from PeerForward's post 10/28/2022


Did you graduate from a PeerForward school? PeerForward now offers a scholarship to students on track to graduate from college in December 2022 - May 2023. To apply, visit

Who’s eligible? 🤔

✅ Must be a former Peer Leader and/or have graduated from a College Summit/PeerForward high school

✅On track to graduate with an undergraduate degree by May 2023

Funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply today!

Videos (show all)

Welcome to Fall Training Camps! Every fall, PeerForward teams gather to plan events that will help more of their classma...
A little #TeamTuesday action from the leaders at Dr. Henry Wise HS! Right now the team is celebrating college acceptance...
We’ve got exciting opportunities to join the PeerForward Alumni Team! 🚨📢Develop your leadership skills while making a di...
"The feeling of stepping onto my college campus was indescribable. It was a warm ecstatic feeling because I made it! Thi...
“Being a Peer Leader, it’s rewarding to see the difference we make to students.” Veronica is making a difference at @bro...
Peer Leaders Ivan and Priscilla are paving the way for first-years at California State University, Los Angeles. 👨‍🎓”The ...
“Last year was confusing, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop going forward.”Despite the setbacks from the pandemi...
It’s #WellnessWednesday so why not celebrate with a little #selfcare and free online counseling?Thanks to our friends at...
It’s #FirstGenDay! 🎓🎓National First Generation College Student Day is a celebration of the 4.2 million + college student...
Hey CedarBridge Academy Peer Leaders! 👋🏾
Crafting a personal statement can be a huge challenge during the college application process.Having advice and support i...
Gary Z. Linnen on HBCU White House




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