Volunteers needed

Tennessee Promise needs 9,000 more mentors to help record number of applicants get to college

PHOTO: Grace Tatter
Gov. Bill Haslam greets Nashville-area community college students to launch Tennessee Promise in 2014.

A record number of Tennessee high school seniors have applied to the state’s tuition-free community college program, requiring a record number of volunteers to help those students achieve their goals.

About 61,000 seniors applied by this week’s deadline for Tennessee Promise, the state’s pioneering program to get more students to attend in-state community or technical colleges. That’s up from almost 60,000 last year and about 58,000 in 2014, when the program launched.

Nearly 8,650 of this year’s applicants were from Shelby County, an increase of about 4 percent from last year.

But students aren’t enough to make the program work. The state needs 9,000 more volunteers to mentor applicants as they transition from high school to college.

“With this record number of applicants and a number of other indicators, it’s clear that Tennessee Promise is changing the conversation around going to college in Tennessee,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a press release. “But we don’t just want students to apply to college; we want them to succeed in college and graduate.”

Haslam appealed to the Volunteer State for volunteers to step forth as mentors.

“The time commitment is small, but the impact can be life changing for students across our state and in your community,” he said.

Research shows that mentor relationships help students not only enroll in college, but finish.

Only two of Tennessee’s 95 counties — Hawkins and Grundy — have enough mentors to serve all of their applicants. Shelby County needs upward of 900 volunteers, said Krissy DeAlejandro, director of TNAchieves, the nonprofit organization that coordinates the scholarship program.

When Tennessee Promise launched in 2014, Tennessee became the nation’s first state to offer two years of community or technical college free of tuition and fees. Even as the state struggles with college preparedness, it’s seen a boost in community college enrollment. The program aims to make college accessible to all Tennessee students, regardless of income.

Mentors must be at least 21 years old and attend a one-hour training and two one-hour meetings with their students over the course of a year. On average, mentors spend about an hour a month working with three to seven students as they transition from high school to college, reminding them of important deadlines, encouraging them, and serving as a trusted resource. The deadline to apply as a mentor is Nov. 20.

Deadline extended

More Tennessee Promise mentors needed in Shelby, 43 other counties

PHOTO: Grace Tatter
Gov. Bill Haslam greets Nashville-area community college students to launch Tennessee Promise in 2014.

About half of Tennessee counties still need volunteers to mentor the record number of high school seniors who applied for the state’s tuition-free community college program, prompting the state to extend its deadline.

As of Tuesday, Shelby County had the greatest shortage and needed 509 more volunteers to serve as mentors for Tennessee Promise, the state’s pioneering program to get more students to attend in-state community or technical colleges. Home to the state’s largest school system, the Shelby County also had the most students apply: about 8,650.

In all, 44 of Tennessee’s 95 counties still need volunteers, although some, like Campbell County, need as few as one. Last Sunday’s deadline has been extended to Dec. 1 for volunteers in those counties to apply, according to a spokeswoman for TNAchieves, the nonprofit organization that coordinates the program.

Other counties had substantial surpluses in volunteers and have closed applications. Nashville’s Davidson County, for example, has a surplus of 296 volunteers.

Statewide, about 61,000 high school seniors have applied for Tennessee Promise. They’ll go through a nine-month process of qualifying that includes working with an adult mentor.

Research shows that mentor relationships help students not only enroll in college, but finish. On average, Tennessee Promise mentors spend about an hour a month working with up to seven students as they transition from high school to college, reminding them of important deadlines, encouraging them, and serving as a trusted resource. Mentors must be at least 21 years old and attend a one-hour training and two one-hour meetings with their students over the course of a year.

When Tennessee Promise launched in 2014, Tennessee became the nation’s first state to offer two years of community or technical college free of tuition and fees. Even as the state struggles with college preparedness, it’s seen a boost in college enrollment. 

best of the undead

Blood, guts and cosmetology: Students turn classmates into zombies — and you can vote for your favorite

PHOTO: Kevin Mohatt/Emily Griffith Technical College

These photos prove one thing: The cosmetology students at Denver Public Schools’ Emily Griffith Technical College have skills. Like, crazy skills.

Like, they’ll amaze you, gross you out and make you feel bad that you cut two holes in an old sheet this Halloween and called it good.

For the third year, the college students in the 11-month cosmetology program at Emily Griffith — which is the only post-secondary school in DPS — have used their hair, nail and makeup-application savvy to transform their classmates into the undead. (Watch a video of the process below.)

Emily Griffith is hosting a contest for the goriest zombie. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite zombie via this Facebook post by liking that zombie’s photo. The voting continues through Friday, and the three zombies with the most likes will be announced on Nov. 14.

Here’s a sampling. To see all 17 zombies, visit Emily Griffith’s Facebook page.

emily-griffith-zombie-15
PHOTO: Kevin Mohatt/Emily Griffith Technical College
emily-griffith-zombie-10
PHOTO: Kevin Mohatt/Emily Griffith Technical College
emily-griffith-zombie-9
PHOTO: Kevin Mohatt/Emily Griffith Technical College
emily-griffith-zombie-13
PHOTO: Kevin Mohatt/Emily Griffith Technical College
emily-griffith-zombie-11
PHOTO: Kevin Mohatt/Emily Griffith Technical College