THEC Awards Third Year of Tennessee Promise Forward Grants to Community Colleges

Thursday, September 07, 2017 | 12:14pm

Contact: Courtney Souter

Nearly $800,000 Will Support Student Success Initiatives for Tennessee Promise Students

NASHVILLE – September 7 – The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) has awarded nearly $800,000 in Tennessee Promise Forward grants to five community colleges to develop and expand innovative student success and retention programs. Through the grants, community colleges will provide academic, advising, and community partnership programs to enable more Tennessee Promise students to earn a post-secondary credential.

"Across our state’s community colleges, great work is being done to ensure that the students who begin college with the Tennessee Promise go on to earn a credential," said Mike Krause, executive director of THEC. “Tennessee Promise Forward grants provide community colleges with the opportunity to expand successful programs and develop innovative student supports. From parent engagement pilots to service learning, THEC is excited to see the impact that this year’s Tennessee Promise Forward grants have on student success."

The Tennessee Promise Forward grant program began in 2015 with the goal of retaining Tennessee Promise students at community colleges. The program was initially funded through a College Access Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Education and received a non-recurring allocation in the FY 2017-18 state budget due to positive results in the years one and two.

Results from the 2016-17 grants showed promising student outcomes. All four of the community colleges whose programs had at least one year of data (Cleveland State Community College, Columbia State Community College, Northeast State Community College, and Pellissippi State Community College) found that retention rates among Tennessee Promise students in 2015-2016 exceeded the overall population for both fall to spring and fall to fall comparisons.

The Tennessee Promise Forward grant amounts range between $91,940 and $200,000 based on the amount requested by the institution. Participating community colleges anticipate serving nearly all Tennessee Promise students at their respective institutions during the 2017-18 academic year.  The institutions were chosen through a competitive application process and the Tennessee Promise Forward grants are administered by THEC.

Summary of Funded Programs
Chattanooga State Community College | Award amount: $200,000
Chattanooga State will use the Tennessee Promise Forward grant to enhance their Success Coaching model, which was first implemented in the 2016-17 academic year. Tennessee Promise students are served by a Success Coach during their first 24 credit hours. In order to best track student milestones, Success Coaches will utilize a customer relationship management system that interfaces with campus software to help success coaches identify at-risk students and to create a comprehensive strategy for each student’s success. Finally, Chattanooga State will employ Service Learning Coordinators and a Tennessee Promise Student Transfer Assistant to help students meet Tennessee Promise Requirements and help graduating students successfully enroll in a four-year degree program.

Dyersburg State Community College | Award amount: $200,000
Dyersburg State will use the Tennessee Promise Forward award to develop a Success Coaching model to support students throughout their college careers. They will incorporate a student success platform to identify at-risk students and enable Success Coaches to provide timely interventions.  In addition, they will implement a Learning Community model into the coursework of Tennessee Promise students. Through this experience and a new Peer Mentor Program, Tennessee Promise students will develop strong relationships with faculty, staff, and fellow students. 

Roane State Community College | Award amount: $91,940
Roane State plans to create an Office of Parent Engagement (OPEN) and a parent portal to keep parents informed of important deadlines and decisions, including course selection and enrollment. In addition to increasing student retention, Roane State believes that their enhanced parent engagement strategies will lead to an increase in FAFSA completion and a decrease in students who face registration challenges due to missed financial aid deadlines.

Southwest Tennessee Community College | Award amount: $142,900
Holistic support is the basis of the Southwest Tennessee grant project, which is referred to as the Saluqi Success Pathway (SSP). Named for the institution’s athletic mascot, the SSP will offer several approaches to student retention including proactive academic advising and an early alerts system that allows staff to provide support to students who are struggling academically. In addition, the SSP will provide supplemental instruction for math and English courses that have traditionally challenged incoming students.

Volunteer State Community College | Award amount: $124,200
Proactive advising is the focus of the Volunteer State Tennessee Promise Forward project. The institution will be implementing systemic changes to their student advising system which will expand advising in the first semester and mandate second semester advising for students who do not successfully complete minimum milestone course requirements. In order to build capacity among staff and faculty, qualifying faculty will receive up to 20 hours of training to become advising “generalists” who can provide high quality advising services.


The Tennessee Higher Education Commission was created in 1967 by the Tennessee General Assembly.  The Commission develops, implements, and evaluates postsecondary education policies and programs in Tennessee while coordinating the state’s systems of higher education. There are nine public universities, two special purpose institutes, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technology in Tennessee that educate nearly 250,000 students annually.