The Heart
Of Grace Outreach


Founded in 2004, Grace Outreach serves low-income women of all ages who seek to enhance their academic skills, pursue higher education, and find employment. We began primarily as a GED education center, but we have grown into a successful larger organization offering classes, training, and academics for the equivalency test (now called the TASC), a college program that works with students to start and graduate from college, and a full array of career services and events. With our ongoing support, hundreds of women have earned their equivalency diplomas and moved on to higher educational goals, better career opportunities, and financial independence.


The Bronx is the poorest urban county in the United States, where food deserts are commonplace and health outcomes remain disproportionately poor. The median household income in the South Bronx is half the New York City average at less than $26,000 and only 50% of Bronx residents between the ages of 25-65 were employed before the pandemic. The Bronx was hit hard by the pandemic. We had the city’s highest rates of virus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Unemployment also soared. Manhattan’s unemployment reached 10.3% while the Bronx toped 17.5%, the highest rate in the state.

We recommend the following resources to learn more about the barriers which the new high school equivalency exam in New York State presents to under-educated women in the Bronx, and the broader economic challenges that the current economy presents to younger Bronx women in particular: New, Tougher GED has Students Scrambling City Limits, December 2013 Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35% A policy paper prepared by JobsFirstNYC July, 2014 a New report showing that the number of people sitting for the high school equivalency exam in New York State in 2014, using the new TASC exam, is way down from previous years. February, 2015


Danae Mcleod at podium with mic

Danae Mcleod

Executive Director
Nicola Clarke portrait

Nicola Clarke

Managing Director, HSE,
and College Program graduate
Lisa DeMun portrait

Lisa DeMun

Office Manager
Zaukema Blanding speaking into mic

Zaukema Blanding

Instructor, Director of Mathematics
Arlet Hamilton portrait

Arlet Hamilton

Writing Instructor, HSE
College Program Graduate
Humaira Aktar portrait

Humaira Aktar

Program Assistant,
College Program Graduate
Elizabeth Walsh portrait

Elizabeth Walsh

Director of Career & College Programming
Danielle Hall portrait

Danielle Hall

Program Assistant


Elise Benkard
Founder, Penelope’s Stories

Marie Konstance

Margaret M. Grace

Kim Mustin 
Senior Managing Director
Bernstein Private Wealth Management 

Paula B. Bralow

Dr. Julie Padilla, Ed. D.
Assistant Principal

Kaitlyn Buckley
Founder and Teacher
TLC Tutoring

Andrew Passari
Managing Director

Adam Colon
Corporate Counsel

Gwen Shufro
Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School

Donnette Dunbar
Dash Media PR

Stephanie Whittier
Executive Director
Private Management, Morgan Stanley

John Hughes
Vice President, Goldman Sachs 

Associate Board of Directors at event


Sam Cannon
Hound Partners

Sung Jo
Research Analyst
Vice President Pine Bridge Investments 

Rucha Desai
Senior Enterprise Risk Managerment (ERM)
Advisory Consultant, Ernst & Young

Shorya Mantry
Investment Analyst
Starboard Value

Ellie Dorsey
Management Consultant

Patrick Guerriero
 AC Investment Management

Dominique Gumbs
Research Analyst
 Elliott Management 

Janine Harwood
Project Manager
Societe Generale


Welcome to Grace Outreach. We believe that education is a right, not a privilege. That’s why we’re here: to empower women like you to exercise your right to continue your education and move towards financial independence. By deciding to continue your education, you are investing in your future. Our program is all about women helping women help themselves and designed to ensure your success by providing individualized support each step along the way. Here you learn from each other – without any outside distractions – and leave with the tools and self confidence that translate to your children, family, and community. Throughout this website, you’ll learn about the program and its leadership: our dedicated Board of Directors; our talented and immensely committed teaching staff, and our student tutors – all Grace Outreach graduates – with a first-hand understanding of where you’re coming from. Since 2004, Grace Outreach has helped over 1,000 women like you attain their GED/high school equivalency diploma. But the diploma is just the beginning. That’s why Grace Outreach also provides College Prep and Career Prep services to help you move forward. It’s not always easy trying something new, but we promise you, everyone here is dedicated to making sure you achieve your goals. We look forward to seeing you and working alongside you. All the best, Ms. Margaret Grace & Ms. Elise Benkard Board Co-Chairs