Program to allow free tuition to Davidson Co. students - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Program to allow free tuition to Davidson Co. students

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A new college tuition program will be a game-changer for a lot of families. The program, called Nashville Achieves, promises free community college for every graduate of Metro public high schools.

The public-private partnership is an expansion of tnAchieves, which provides scholarships with mentor guidance in 26 other Tennessee counties.

"I do think the city's future is dependent upon us being a city that produces and attracts college graduates. Those are the cities that do well," said Mayor Karl Dean. "We need to keep moving forward as a city producing more college graduates."

The program offers every Metro graduate up to $4,000 a semester for community college or technical school.

Participants receive one-on-one mentorship, and they also must complete eight hours of community service each semester.

Maplewood Dean of Students Ryan Jackson said it could change everything for many area families.

"This is a community that my heart bleeds for," Jackson said. "So, now, we're having a conversation about, 'Hey, we're going to get you through high school. That's a guarantee. Let's start talking about options post-secondary."

The program relies on volunteers for funding and for mentors. At least 325 volunteer mentors are needed for the first year of the program.

Recruitment of mentors will begin this summer, and interested individuals can sign up at https://www.tnachieves.org/a-mentor.

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 Haslam on higher education.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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