College Access Challenge Grant

Since 2008, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission has served as the agency designated by the Governor to administer Tennessee’s College Access Challenge Grant (CACG), a federal formula grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Education and focused on developing partnerships to promote college access and success. Tennessee’s CACG program is designed to build on previous CACG successes and the state’s current college completion-oriented policy environment. The program strives to address three areas of focus: expand statewide college access and success efforts, build capacity to meet college access and completion goals, and bolster Go Back and Finish initiatives. The Office of P-16 Initiatives provides general administrative and fiscal oversight of the project and is charged with programmatic implementation of the college access and success and capacity-building components of the grant.

Expand Statewide College Access and Success Efforts

Development and implementation of Path to College Events
Building upon the success of College Application Week and College Goal Tennessee, the Office of P-16 Initiatives developed and is implementing two additional statewide events, College Signing Day and College Planning Night. Together, all four events will operate under the brand Path to College events.

Expand Statewide Implementation of
 Using CACG funds, the Office of P-16 Initiatives outreach specialist works to expand use and implementation of through robust educator professional development, creation of instructional resources and collateral materials, and increased alignment with Drive to 55 initiatives.

Build Capacity to Meet College Access and Completion Goals

College Access and Success Conference and Training
The Office of P-16 Initiatives is partnering with the Tennessee College Access and Success Network for the creation and implementation of professional development opportunities for college access professionals. Opportunities will include at least one statewide conference and regional training focused on building the capacity of Tennessee organizations, institutions, and practitioners to implement effective college access and success initiatives.

Grants to Institutions to Better Serve Tennessee Promise Students
THEC has awarded small competitive grants focused on increasing the matriculation and retention of Tennessee Promise students at public two-year institutions. The grant aims to build institutions’ capacity to serve Tennessee Promise students with particular emphasis placed on associate degree completion and, if applicable, transfer to a four-year institution. THEC awarded grants to institutions that identified scalable, promising practices which support degree completion among Tennessee Promise students.

Bolster Go Back and Finish initiatives

Development and Execution of Coordinated Adult Outreach Strategy in Partnership with Tennessee Higher Education Systems and Institutions
 THEC’s Policy, Planning, and Research Division leads efforts to reach out to adults who would be candidates for attaining a degree or credential. In partnership with local community organizations, the adult initiatives focus on identifying and reaching out to adults who would be likely candidates to begin or return to college and help them find an institution that will be a good postsecondary fit.

Grants to Higher Education Institutions to Develop or Expand Completion Programs for Adults
 Through the Ready to Reconnect grant, THEC is partnering with public postsecondary institutions in the state to develop targeted strategies to recruit, engage, support, and complete adult learners. Subgrant institutions are required to build strategies to address current challenges which hinder adult student success.


For more information on Tennessee’s College Access Challenge Grant, contact Troy Grant (