Tennessee Promise is a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students attending college. It provides students a scholarship that can be used at any Tennessee community college as well as some other eligible institutions.
A critical component of Tennessee Promise is the individual guidance each participant receives from a volunteer mentor who assists with navigating the college admission process. Mentors spend 10 to 15 hours per year working with several assigned students in their county.
Here, Chattanooga State Community College President Rebecca Ashford, Ed.D., highlights the importance of mentoring Tennessee Promise students.
Trend: How have you seen Tennessee Promise make a difference for students?
Ashford: The Tennessee Promise program has changed the narrative about going to college for many students. Students who have never dreamed that college was possible now know it is possible as the biggest barrier — paying for tuition — is removed.
T: How do mentors support students in meeting their education goals?
A: At the most basic level, they remind students of important deadlines. But they do more than that. They’re encouraging adults who support students during an important transition period of their lives. Mentors help students problem solve through the college enrollment process. Many mentors also help their students connect to service learning opportunities.
T: How does Tennessee Promise impact economic development?
A: Tennessee Promise was developed as part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative to have 55 percent of Tennesseans complete a postsecondary credential by 2025. Governor Haslam recognized the connection between higher education and workforce development. To get good jobs, Tennesseans need education beyond high school. At the same time, employers need an educated workforce. By expanding access to college education, Tennessee Promise improves economic and workforce development.
For more about becoming a mentor, visit tnachieves.org.