The Haslam Family Foundation and several partnering organizations on Wednesday announced a $6.2 million investment over two years to support Knox Promise.
Knox Promise is a new initiative to help more Tennessee Promise students in Knox County graduate from college. The program provides all Knox County high school graduates from the classes of 2019 and 2020 who are eligible for Tennessee Promise with four high-impact supports.
“This is a huge day, our perspective really is [that] this represents one of the most substantial investments in college and really career-success for students in Tennessee,” said President and CEO of SCORE, David Mansouri.
The emergency funds for students can help them overcome relatively small financial barriers that can otherwise bring a college career to a screeching halt.
“While we’ve done a lot in Tennessee around things like tuition, room and board fees – other critical financial pieces for students in post-secondary can be major barriers to kids completing a semester, a year…” said Mansouri. In some cases, it can derail an entire college education.
“For a lot of young people in our county some of those small expenses can be total derailments,” said Interim President at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, Randy Boyd. “A lack of $100 to get a car fixed may result in them not being able to finish their college degree.”
This multi-million dollar pool of money will be put to use to help offset those costs through grants.
Students who meet the criteria will be eligible to receive Completion Grants to offset unexpected or emergency expenses, a textbook support stipend, a dedicated tnAchieves Completion Coach, and a unique Summer Support Program in 2020 and 2021 for those students who need it.
“Knox Promise is a first-of-its-kind community-based initiative that provides additional financial and coaching support to help more Tennessee Promise students successfully navigate their way through college,” said Krissy DeAlejandro, executive director of tnAchieves.
Through a unique partnership between tnAchieves, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), the Haslam Family Foundation, and several area institutions, including Pellissippi State Community College, Knox Promise is being launched as a pilot program for Tennessee Promise-eligible students from the 2019 and 2020 Knox County high school graduating classes.
“Knox Promise recognizes that some of our students need support beyond the tuition dollars that Tennessee Promise provides. And we could not be more grateful to Jim Haslam and the Haslam family for making this pilot program possible,” said Randy Boyd, interim president of the University of Tennessee and board chair of tnAchieves.
We think it could be a real game-changer for many of our students and families here in Knox County. I am also very pleased to see it launched here in Knox County, the original home of knoxAchieves, which eventually expanded into tnAchieves, and later into the Tennessee Promise.”
Boyd noted while the program is deeply rooted in student success, it is also a community-based workforce development initiative. Knox Promise will increase the number of Knox County students earning degrees and credentials to provide a more highly skilled workforce and to boost economic prosperity across the region.
“Now, with the ‘Knox Promise’ being able to provide additional support so that more young students can actually graduate from college, starting here is definitely a pride-point for a local boy,” said Boyd.
To determine whether these types of additional financial and coaching supports work, Knox Promise will be externally evaluated by the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research to verify results and to establish its impact.