Mayor Karl Dean and Gov. Bill Haslam have announced that ‘nashvilleAchieves’ will open this fall in all Metro high schools, making a community or technical college education available with no tuition cost to any public high school senior in Davidson County who wants to pursue a post-secondary degree. The public-private partnership is an expansion of tnAchieves, which provides scholarships with mentor guidance in 26 other Tennessee counties.
“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. “One of the best parts of the program is the mentorship it will provide to high school seniors. I am issuing a challenge to all Metro employees, as well as employees at businesses and organizations throughout Nashville, to sign up as a mentor and truly make a difference in the life of a young Nashvillian.”
The nashvilleAchieves initiative will need at least 325 volunteer mentors for the first year of the program. Recruitment of mentors will begin this summer, and interested individuals can sign up at
Supporters have raised $1 million to launch nashvilleAchieves in all 20 Metro high schools. Metro is proposing up to $750,000 for the program over the next two years. Other major contributors include Nashville State Community College, Joe and Dorothy Scarlett, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and AT&T. Other businesses and philanthropists are encouraged to participate.
The tnAchieves initiative was founded in 2008 as knoxAchieves by Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, who himself is contributing $100,000 to nashvilleAchieves. Boyd is now a special advisor to Gov. Haslam on higher education.
As a college access program, tnAchieves provides gap funding through scholarships in the amount between what the student has received in other scholarships and grants and the actual cost of tuition at a two-year institution. While all public high school students are eligible for tnAchieves scholarships, the focus is on first-generation, low-income students.
“tnAchieves has a proven record of providing the support that ultimately leads to increased post-secondary access, retention and completion,” Gov. Haslam said. “Only 32 percent of our state’s adult population has a post-secondary degree, and if we are going to have graduates ready to fill the available jobs, programs such as tnAchieves are going to help Tennesseans earn degrees and meet the demands of the marketplace.”
The inaugural tnAchieves graduating class of 2009 had a graduation rate of 26% (over the course of three years), higher than both the state average for community colleges of 11% and the national public two-year college rate of 20%. These results show that tnAchieves not only makes community college more accessible for students, but it also increases the likelihood of receiving a degree.
Mayor Dean was joined by Gov. Haslam at the Southeast Campus of Nashville State Community College earlier today for the announcement. Joining them were Randy Boyd, Metro Schools Director Jesse Register, NSCC Campus Director Julie Williams and Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, who encouraged businesses to participate in the mentorship program.
The nashvilleAchieves program aligns with Mayor Dean’s focus to increase high school graduation rates and increase the number of Nashville students with college degrees. Some 34% of adults 25 years and older in Davidson County has a bachelor’s degree or higher. Just over 50% has at least an Associate’s Degree.
Mayor Dean’s college access-related initiatives have included both the Scholars’Academy, a program to help high school students prepare for the rigors of college, and the One Step Ahead Fund, a program to provide funding for Metro students taking college courses through dual enrollment.
As part of the tnAchieves program, nashvilleAchieves supports the state’s ‘Drive to 55’ campaign which seeks to increase the post-secondary attainment rate in Tennessee to 55%.
“The expansion of tnAchieves into Davidson County advances Tennessee’s effort to increase the number of students enrolling and succeeding at a post-secondary institution,” Boyd said.
“This program not only provides higher education opportunities for our students, but it also strengthens partnerships between K-12 schools, higher education institutions, as well as businesses and community organizations. We are grateful to the community for embracing the idea that every student deserves the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary credential.”