Haslam Announces Drive to 55 Capacity Fund Grants

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | 03:03pm

Funds Will Help Provide Opportunity and Growth to College Students across Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the recipients of the Drive to 55 Capacity Fund, an initiative designed to support colleges and universities as enrollment increases since the launch of Tennessee Promise.

“Tennessee has seen unprecedented numbers of students enrolling in college for the first time. As Tennessee Promise has made college a reality for so many of our students, we are committed to providing our institutions with the resources to support them,” Haslam said. “The Drive to 55 Capacity Fund assists our campuses in getting these students to and through college so we can continue to close the skills gap in Tennessee’s workforce.”

The fund awarded a total of $24.3 million to ten colleges and universities. The projects funded include a new TCAT training facility in Anderson County through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville, an advanced robotics training facility for Motlow State Community College, and an expansion of the nursing program at Dyersburg State Community College.

First-time freshman enrollment at Tennessee’s colleges and universities grew by 10 percent in 2015, including a 25 percent increase at community colleges and a 20 percent increase at TCATs. Tennessee also saw a historic year-over-year growth in the state’s college-going rate in 2015, increasing 4.6 percentage points in just one year. 

“As we have expanded access to higher education through the Drive to 55, it is crucial that we ensure colleges and universities have the resources to prepare students for the workforce,” Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, said. “The process of awarding these funds was very competitive and each funded program will provide opportunity and growth to students across our state.”

A total of 44 proposals were submitted, requesting a combined $120.9 million for construction or renovation or for program expansion. All projects seeking funding were required to demonstrate need for building capacity to respond to student enrollment and statewide workforce demands.

Proposals were reviewed by a team of readers from across state government, including the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the University of Tennessee system. Based on reader scores and final approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, projects were selected for funding.

List of Funded Projects

Institution                                                                        Project                                                                                  Award Amount

Dyersburg State Community College                          Building Capacity for Nursing Program                          $1,075,000

East Tennessee State University                                   Sevierville Program Expansion                                             $818,000

Motlow State Community College                               Advanced Robotics Training Center                                  $5,500,000

TCAT Crump                                                                      Chester County Welding Program Expansion                    $114,380

TCAT Harriman                                                                 Loudon County Instructional Service Center                      $264,000

                                                                                              Allied Health Academy                                    

TCAT Knoxville                                                                  TCAT Training Facility in Anderson County                        $5,700,000

TCAT Memphis                                                                 Bartlett Satellite Campus                                                        $4,000,000

TCAT Pulaski                                                                      Campus Expansion for Advanced Manufacturing,          $3,171,350  

                                                                                              Industrial Maintenance, and Special Industry Training

Tennessee Technological University                           Tennessee Center for Poultry Science Excellence           $2,070,000

Volunteer State Community College                           Warf Science Building Addition                                            $1,560,000


About the Drive to 55

In 2013, Governor Haslam launched the Drive to 55 to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. As a result, the Drive to 55 has established the Tennessee Promise program, the nation’s first scholarship and mentorship program that provides high school graduates last-dollar scholarships to attend two years of community or technical college free of tuition and fees; reduced the number of college freshmen requiring remediation through the SAILS (Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support) program; provided free technical college for adults through TCAT Reconnect Grants; created Tennessee Reconnect + Complete to help more adults return to college to complete unfinished degrees; developed a more comprehensive state approach to serving student veterans; and leveraged technology to enhance classroom instruction and college advising.