Nashville GRAD program to close equity gaps and increase economic opportunity

Mayor Briley announces the Nashville GRAD program at the Antioch campus of Nashville State Community College with Dr. Shanna L. Jackson, President of NSCC; Mr. Mark Lenz, President of TCAT; and Metro Nashville student, Jaden, who takes dual enrollment classes Nashville State.

Mayor Briley, in his commitment to ensuring more Nashvillians can pursue a path toward economic priority, created the Nashville Getting Results by Advancing Degrees (GRAD) program in partnership with the Nashville State Community College and Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT).

Nashville GRAD complements the state of Tennessee’s programs for tuition-free college, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, by removing other financial barriers beyond tuition. Financial assistance will cover expenses beyond tuition, including textbooks, transportation, tools and supplies, and industry certification fees.

Nashville GRAD, to begin in Fall 2019, will be implemented through a financial assistance fund that will include an annual financial commitment from Metro Government and, at full implementation, will serve more than 3,000 students each year. Mayor Briley has committed to including up to $1 million in Metro’s FY2019-2020 budget and up to $2.5 million annually after that.

“Today marks an incredibly important step toward cloing equity gaps in our city, increasing economic opportunity, and investing in our workforce through access to quality education,” said Briley. “We know that obtaining a degree or credential after high school can raise a person’s lifetime income by one-third, and by 2020, 60% of jobs will require some type of postsecondary degree. Giving Nashvillians the assistance they need to successfully reach this goal is vital to Nashville’s long-term prosperity.”

Briley and the Nashville State Community College Foundation are also seeking financial commitments from local business partners who believe in the importance of developing Nashville’s workforce and closing the city’s equity gaps.

“I am counting on our partners in the business community to help us see this through, as well,” said the mayor.

“Increasing access to higher education is providing greater opportunity for our citizens, but to truly create student success, we must increase college completion rates. I commend Mayor Briley, Nashville State Community College and TCAT-Nashville for taking this step to ensure Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect students have the resources they need to earn postsecondary degrees and enter the workforce ready for today’s job demands,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said.
Nashville GRAD will increase the number of students successfully graduating from NSCC in three years to at least 50% and increase TCAT industry certifications to 66% by 2023.

“I’m so grateful that Mayor Briley has partnered with us to create a program that will positively impact the future of Nashville,” said Dr. Shanna L. Jackson, president of NSCC. “Nashville GRAD represents a significant commitment from our city to advance equity and economic mobility. I look forward to helping implement Nashville GRAD and more importantly seeing the difference it will make in the lives of our students.”

Modeled after the highly successful evidence-based program CUNY ASAP, Nashville GRAD will offer comprehensive support to eligible students through financial assistance, personalized individual mentorship, academic and career advising, and by fostering a strong cohort environment. Strong data measurement and outcomes monitoring will be key components of Nashville GRAD’s program management.

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