tnAchieves calls for volunteers to give students a hand up

tnAchieves is looking for people with a passion for education willing to spend a little time to make a life-changing difference in a student’s future.

tnAchieves is a privately funded, nonprofit organization pairing last dollar scholarships with mentor guidance to help high school students access community college. A last dollar scholarship is one which pays the balance of tuition and fees remaining after all other grants and scholarships are paid.

But it is the volunteer mentors that make the difference.

“Our mission is to give students who would not ordinarily have the opportunity a chance to go to college by lifting the burden of cost,” said tnAchieves Executive Director Krissy DeAlejandro. “Our volunteer mentors make a huge difference in helping these students successfully navigate the college access process.”

This year tnAchieves is expecting more than 10,000 scholarship applications. “Goal 2,000” seeks to pair scholarship recipients with at least 2,000 community members in 25 counties across the state.

tnAchieves mentors commit as little as an hour a month, 10-15 hours a year, to encourage and direct students toward the goal of college entrance. Each mentor is assigned 4-5 students at a local public high school. Two meetings a year are scheduled at the school, one in January and one in March, for mentors and students to get to know each other and the program requirements.

Mentors are then asked to help keep their students on task throughout the application and entrance process, reminding them of upcoming deadlines and responsibilities via text messaging, Facebook, phone – whatever method is easiest for the student.

“It is such a small time commitment, but it makes such a big difference in helping these students through what can be a very stressful and confusing time,” said tnAchieves mentor Bruce Hartmann. “I have been a mentor for the past two years and have loved getting to know my students and helping them on a path to achieving their goals.”

tnAchieves began as knoxAchieves in 2008, serving nearly 500 students. Today the program has expanded to 25 counties throughout Tennessee, and has to date given over 3,400 high school students the opportunity to attend a post-secondary institution. tnAchieves strives to reach those who would not otherwise have this opportunity, with 65 percent of recipients being first-generation college students.

“To give our students the encouragement they need, we will need more than 2,000 mentors this year,” said DeAlejandro. “We have a good start, but there are still openings at nearly every public school locally.”

tnAchieves hopes to fill these vacancies with volunteers by October 15th in order to pair all the student applicants. For more information on the mentoring program or to apply, visit or contact Graham Thomas at 615-604-1306 or

tnAchieves, formerly knoxAchieves, began as an economic development initiative helping to ensure a educated workforce by increasing educational opportunities for Tennessee students. Expanding statewide in 2010, tnAchieves now serves 120 high schools in 25 counties:Anderson, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Claiborne, Dyer, Fentress, Grainger, Hamblen, Hancock, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Loudon, Meigs, Madison, Morgan, Obion, Pickett, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Shelby, Sullivan, and Union. Nearly 65 percent of tnAchieves scholars are first generation college students.

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