tnAchieves, the model for and a partnering organization to the TN Promise scholarship in 90 Tennessee counties, directly supported its 100,000th student into college this fall. Launched in 2008 as a college success program in Knox County, tnAchieves sent 267 students to an eligible institution its first year. Currently the program supports nearly 65,000 new high school seniors annually with over 18,000 students choosing a TN Promise community, technical or four-year college option each year. Although still built on a scholarship, community service and volunteer mentoring foundation, tnAchieves now supports students with immersive summer programs and proactive coaching. While the program operates at an expansive scale, the student-focused, community-based program seeks to meet students where they are and break down the barriers preventing them from earning college credentials, said officials.
To celebrate, tnAchieves will host webinars this week highlighting its varied stakeholders. The celebration began yesterday with a panel featuring former Governor Bill Haslam, University of Tennessee President and tnAchieves Chairman Randy Boyd and former Knox County Mayor and tnAchieves board member Mike Ragsdale. All three panelists were instrumental in creating the program in 2008 and have provided leadership during its growth over the past 12 years.
Featured panels occurring this week are:
Tuesday: The day begins at 9 a.m. with college presidents from Chattanooga State Community College, Motlow State Community College, Dyersburg State Community College and Cumberland University discussing the impact of tnAchieves on the state’s colleges. A panel featuring business partners 21st Mortgage CEO Tim Williams, BlueCross BlueShield TN Director of Community Relations Chelsea Johnson and Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce Initiatives Beth Duffield at 12:30 p.m. A panel discussing the impact of tnAchieves on Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology featuring the presidents of TCATs in Crossville, Pulaski and Ripley, Covington and Newbern at 2:30 p.m. The day will conclude at 4 p.m. with a panel of tnAchieves college graduates.
Wednesday: The day begins at 9 a.m. with a panel featuring college presidents from Pellissippi State, Nashville State and Southwest Tennessee community colleges, where the program operates special programs designed to increase student success. The midday panel will take place at 12:30 p.m. and will feature a conversation with tnAchieves mentors from Shelby, Rutherford and Jefferson counties. The day will conclude at 4 p.m. with a panel featuring students and state partners that participate in tnAchieves’ summer success programs.
Thursday: Starting at 9 AM ET / 8 AM CT tnAchieves will highlight high school administrators from Shelby, Roane and Knox counties who will be discussing the impact the program has on the state’s high schools. Beginning at 12:30 PM ET / 11:30 AM CT tnAchieves will feature panelists Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Dr. Flora Tydings, Tennessee Higher Education Executive Director Mike Krause and Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum discussing the statewide and local impact of the program. The afternoon session will begin at 4 PM ET / 3 PM CT and will feature a student, tnAchieves staff member and Samantha Gutter from the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) discussing tnAchieves newest program, Knox Promise.
Friday: The final day of the celebration will begin at 9 AM ET / 8 AM CT and will feature Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn, Haywood County Schools Superintendent Joey Hassell and Clarksville / Montgomery County Director of Schools Millard House. The week will conclude at 12:30 PM ET / 11:30 AM CT with a panel discussing the impact tnAchieves has had on the national free college movement. The panel features former United States Under Secretary of Education and current College Promise CEO Dr. Martha Kanter, Senior Researcher at the Upjohn Institute Dr. Michelle Miller-Adams and Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee Dr. Celeste Carruthers.
“While we understand there is still much work to be done, we want to take a brief pause to celebrate this meaningful moment of our work,” said tnAchieves Executive Director Krissy DeAlejandro. “We are excited to reflect on our past, thank our partners and, most importantly, highlight our incredibly hard working students that motivate us to wake up and do this work every day.”
“When we launched tnAchieves in Knox County in 2008, I thought it would be an incredible accomplishment if one day we sent 10,000 students to college,” said University of Tennessee President and tnAchieves Chairman Randy Boyd. “I would have never imagined that 12 years later we would support more than 100,000 students to college. This is a moment to celebrate but I know the dedicated team at tnAchieves and our partners are currently working on the next 100,000 college goers!”
tnAchieves would like to invite community members all across Tennessee to join the organization in celebrating this momentous occasion. You can learn more about the weeklong celebration and register to attend the webinars at https://tnachieves.org/100kstudents/.
tnAchieves is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has been providing scholarships with mentor support since 2008. To learn more about the program, please visit www.tnAchieves.org or contact tnAchieves Deputy Director of Partnerships Graham Thomas at (615) 604-1306.