An often overlooked but important component of TN Promise is the required community service hours each student must complete prior to the start of each college semester, officials said. The idea is to ensure students are cultivating a culture of giving back to their communities. It is also an opportunity for students to explore possible career paths.
"Since tnAchieves, the precursor to TN Promise, launched in 2008, our students have given back more than 1.5 million community service hours. TN Promise greatly contributed to this number with over 1.1 million of those hours completed since the launch of Gov. Haslam’s scholarship and mentoring program," officials said.
“TN Promise funding is critical to our students’ success; however, I believe the support provided by our volunteer mentors as well as increased community involvement via the community service requirement are equally important to our students’ growth,” says Krissy DeAlejandro, executive Director of tnAchieves.
Through the community service requirement, students gain a greater perspective on the needs in their community. This past semester, TN Promise student Harrison McSpadden decided to give more than the required 8 hours of volunteer service.
Each semester Mr. McSpadden has volunteered with Veterans First, a resale store that assists veterans in his community. This fall, Mr. McSpadden decided to donate a car that he and his father had restored to the organization.
“Volunteering at Veterans First was an eye opener. It connected me to something bigger than myself,” said Mr. McSpadden. “I felt happy when I donated the car. It brought joy to the organization and I knew the car was going towards a better use.”
TN Promise students can select the organization where they complete their community service hours. While many choose familiar organizations, other students explore possible career options by shadowing a teacher, an accountant, a welder, etc.
On Nov. 10, 2017, tnAchieves Job Shadow Day provided 106 TN Promise students exposure to some of the largest employers in their region, while also satisfying the community service requirement. The participating companies included Arconic, Caterpillar Financial, Eastman, FedEx, Maury Regional Hospital, Radio Systems Corporation and Unum.
Each business incorporated an overview of their company, professional development activities and individual job shadowing.
The concept for the Job Shadow Day stemmed from efforts by the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office and Hilton’s Memphis Operations Center. Both organizations have hosted TN Promise students for job shadow days in the past.
tnAchieves helps students find volunteer opportunities in their communities across Tennessee. Organizations interested in having TN Promise students volunteer throughout the year can email Allie Greer at email@example.com.