A Letter from our Executive Director
Since 2008, I have spent the greater part of each day promoting the bold idea that every student, regardless of family income, zip code, and even academic preparedness, deserves the opportunity to receive a post-secondary education. I read all the reports and appreciate all the statistics surrounding the success of specific student demographics; however, multiple times a day, I witness the power of intervention, the influence of encouragement, and the impact of support.
In only six years, tnAchieves has supported more than 10,000 students into a community or technical college. Our statistics indicate that our students are retaining at a rate 50 percent greater than the state average and graduating at a rate three times the state average. Needless to say, we are very proud of our students and their accomplishments.
Understanding this success but faced with the reality that only 32.9 percent of Tennesseans currently hold a post-secondary degree, the state recently launched the “Drive to 55” campaign which seeks to comprehensively improve its higher education policies by achieving 55 percent post-secondary attainment by 2025.
The mission is to provide all Tennesseans with accessible and affordable post-secondary degree or credential opportunities that align with projected workforce demands.
Tennessee understands that to achieve this mission the state must increase access to post-secondary opportunities.
Tennessee seeks to reach the students who are left to enter the workforce with only a high school diploma. Much like tnAchieves, Tennessee Promise ensures no student will be limited from the pursuit of a college degree because of socio-economic status, zip code or background.
Tennessee Promise provides last dollar community or technical college funding to every Tennessee high school student. Ultimately, Tennessee Promise eliminates the tuition and mandatory fee burden associated with post-secondary attainment for students directly following high school graduation.
While the funding is obviously important to increased access, Tennessee Promise also includes mandatory support programs for students as the target student would most likely come from first generation, low-income families.
The program requires students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by an established deadline, maintain full-time status at a post-secondary institution for a maximum of five semesters (eight trimesters for TCATs), and most importantly work in a structured environment with a mentor.
Recently, UT’s Center for Business and Economic Research found that a strong mentoring program coupled with a last-dollar scholarship increased a student’s likelihood of attending college by more than 20 percent.
tnAchieves currently serves as the partnering organization to Tennessee Promise in 84 counties. Essentially, a student must complete the tnAchieves program in those counties to access Tennessee Promise funding.
With Tennessee Promise, the state has made a bold promise to its students with a two and a half year investment but projects a 40-year impact on our state’s economic viability.
Krissy DeAlejandro, Executive Director
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