News release from state Department of Education:
NASHVILLE — Nine school districts and two nonprofit organizations today were awarded a total of $686,820 in Race to the Top funds by the Tennessee College Access and Success Network in its inaugural grant competition.
The network aims to establish a college-going culture in communities across the state by removing barriers to higher education, promoting college persistence, and increasing postsecondary completion rates for all Tennesseans. Driven by this mission, the network held its first grant competition to create new and expand existing college access and success programs. Schools and nonprofit organizations applied for three different grant opportunities: Seed Grant, Model Program Grant, and Catalyst Grant. The network received 66 grant applications from across the state, and the nine winning project proposals will serve more than 11,300 students and families across the state. School systems and nonprofits have proposed projects such as offering students ACT tutoring, taking them on college visits and paying for their college application fees.
Nonprofit, K-12 education and higher education leaders from across the state are collaborating on these projects to ensure student success and degree or certification attainment,” said Bob Obrohta, executive director of the network.
Bradley County Schools ($167,065), Metro Nashville Public Schools ($162,720) and Memphis City School’s Hamilton High School ($170,000) were the top-scoring applicants in the Seed Grant competition. Seed Grants, which provide stepped-funding through 2014, are designed to assist in transforming the college-going culture of a high-need school or school system.
Union County Board of Education ($38,700), Memphis City Schools ($40,000), and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Educational Opportunity Center ($39,996) will receive Model Program Grants. These one-year grants support, enhance and expand existing college access and success programs or initiatives.
Catalyst Grants provide organizations with the opportunity to improve college access services by investing in resources that enhance services for new or existing projects and programs. White County Board of Education ($14,984), Milan Special School District ($15,000), In Full Motion ($15,000), Brainerd High School ($9,847), and Perry County Schools ($13,508) were awarded Catalyst Grants.
“More than 80 percent of Tennessee’s students express the desire to earn a college degree, but we are falling short on our commitment to support them in reaching that goal,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “Closing the gap between our students’ aspirations and their postsecondary outcomes is an important focus of the First to the Top work, and the grants announced today by the network bring us one step closer to closing that gap.”
For brief descriptions of each project or to learn more about the network, visit www.tncollegeaccess.org