Mentors needed for program that helps provide college success, tuition

Ashley Hopkins,

A partnering organization that is working with Tennessee Promise to provide a tuition-free opportunity for every Tennessee high school graduate to go to community or technical college is seeking mentors for the upcoming year.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise is being supported locally and in many other counties across the state by tnAchieves, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing the number of students with a postsecondary degree within a community. The organization will administer the nonfinancial components of Tennessee Promise.

Hamilton, Bledsoe, Marion, Sequatchie, Polk, McMinn and more counties have partnered with tnAchieves.

The class of 2015 will be the first group of graduating high school seniors to benefit from Tennessee Promise, which will cover college costs not met from other sources. All students who participate in Tennessee Promise will be paired with a partnering organization, such as tnAchieves, and matched with a mentor to help them eliminate barriers that stand in the way of postsecondary education.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said as he named tnAchieves the local partner:

Tennessee Promise and its impact on our students, families and communities can be a real game-changer, as we prepare more of our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. I strongly encourage all of our high school seniors and their families to talk with their guidance counselors about the Tennessee Promise, and I hope all Hamilton County residents who want to make a real, positive impact on the lives of these students and the future of our local economy [will] sign up as volunteer mentors. By working together, we can be a model for Tennessee and the nation.

A mentor should be prepared to help with financial aid paperwork, motivate the student to meet deadlines and encourage the student to reach his or her potential. The commitment requires approximately one hour of time per month working with seniors to ensure they make a smooth transition from high school to college.

Mentors are required to attend a training session by Dec. 15 and attend two team meetings. Click here to apply, which must be done by Nov. 1. Training sessions are available at a variety of locations to provide as much convenience as possible for those interested in being mentors.

Mentors must be 21 years old or older and are subject to a background check.

“tnAchieves is excited to partner with local leaders in Hamilton County and Gov. Haslam’s Tennessee Promise to create a more qualified workforce in the community and also provide students with a promise for a brighter future,” Randy Boyd, tnAchieves chairman, said.

The mission of tnAchieves aligns with Haslam’s Drive to 55 Campaign, which seeks to increase the postsecondary attainment rate to 55 percent by 2025.

tnAchieves was founded in 2008 as knoxAchieves and will now operate in at least 80 counties and serve 93 percent of the state’s graduating class. Since the organization was founded, more than 12,000 students have enrolled at a postsecondary institution with tnAchieves’ support. The students using tnAchieves have given back nearly 100,000 hours of community service since 2008.

To sign up to be a tnAchieves scholar, click here. There are no GPA, ACT or income requirements.

Fast facts

—Over 65 percent of tnAchieves students are the first in their families to attend college.

—Seventy percent come from families who earn less than $50,000 a year.

—The program has a 90 percent FAFSA filing rate.

—The fall-fall retention rate is 71 percent, compared to the Tennessee community college retention rate of 59 percent.

—The program has a 33 percent three-year graduation rate, compared to the Tennessee community college three-year graduation rate of 11 percent.

For more information

Contact Krissy DeAlejandro, executive director of tnAchieves, at 865-621-9223 or [email protected].

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