Nearly half of all American college students take more than six years to graduate, according to “The American Dream 2.0,” a report on college affordability. The delayed graduation rate isn’t for a lack of trying—affording tuition, and living expenses isn’t easy—but it’s even more difficult for students who don’t have the financial-backing of their family. The financial stress and a lack of peer-understanding can prolong graduation and even foster a decision to drop out for already struggling students. But Boulder-based Greenhouse Scholars hopes to help keep these students in school with a peer-support system and financial assistance. The organization serves underresourced, high-performing Colorado students who attend schools in state and across the country. “There’s this perception that once students make it to college, they’ve made it,” says Greenhouse Scholars executive director Andra Pool. “And that’s just not true. We’re providing a community of really high performing peers that understand each other.”

Greenhouse Scholars serves it students through components including professional networking, mentorship, flex funding for different projects, and a tuition scholarship. Each student has faced his or her own challenges while being actively involved at school, in the classroom, and within the community. “We don’t just have one poster kid who has this amazing diamond in the rough story,” Pool says. “We have 120 of them.”

On September 29 Greenhouse Scholars will host its annual Venus de Miles bike ride for women. Not only does the ride raise funds that go directly to its scholars, but it also provides a fun, noncompetitive atmosphere for riders. Last year more than 1,200 women rode in the event, which raised nearly $175,000. One hundred-, 65-, and 28-mile courses will start and end in Longmont with yoga, spa services, and gourmet food available before and after the ride Did we mention the ride-along mechanics, Men in Drag?

Get Involved: Register for the sixth annual Venus de Miles bike ride on September 29 at 6:30 a.m. You must fundraise a minimum of $75 (that’s a dollar for each current scholar); registration fees increase as the ride date gets closer. That bad knee keeping you out of Venus de Miles? The organization is looking for volunteers to assist in a variety of ways the day of the race and beyond. Check out the Greenhouse Scholars website for more details.

-Image courtesy of Greenhouse Scholars