College Access Program Expands To Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Graduating high school seniors will be able to attend a community college tuition-free thanks to a program that's expanding to Nashville.
Mayor Karl Dean, Governor Bill Haslam and other officials announced nashvilleAchieves Monday at the southeast campus of Nashville State Community College. The program will open in the fall at all MNPS high schools.
Officials said the program helps students who may not be able to pay tuition but want to further their education at a community or technical institution.
"Zip code and family circumstances should not dictate a child's future, and nashvilleAchieves helps make sure students aren't held back in life by an inability to pay college tuition," Mayor Dean said.
Once students are part of the program, they will also have a mentor to help them through their time in college and complete eight hours of community service per semester.
The nashvilleAchieves initiative will need at least 325 volunteer mentors for the first year of the program. Mayor Dean issued a challenge to all Metro employees, as well as employees at businesses and organizations throughout Nashville to sign up as a mentor.
So far, supporters have raised $1 million to launch the program in all 20 Nashville high schools, and the city is proposing up to $750,000 for the program over the next two years.
The public-private partnership is an expansion of a larger initiative called tnAchieves that provides scholarships to students in 26 other Tennessee counties. The inaugural program started in Knox County in 2008 by Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, who has contributed $100,000 to nashvilleAchieves.
The mission of TN Achieves is to increase higher education opportunities for Tennessee students by providing last dollar scholarships with mentor guidance.
Andrew Corlew, who just started his senior year at Stratford High School, said he's glad there's a program that will help graduating students pay for a college education.
"Just to know there is a possibility that you can further your education even though you don't have the same status as other people, you can still get your own education," explained Corlew.
Stratford High School Principal Michael Steele thinks the program will help many of his students. "The vast majority of my seniors are wondering day to day where they're going to get the money to go to college," added Steele.
Graduates can receive up to $4,000 annually for community college tuition.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)