NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 6, 2021) — Amazon has stepped up to help Nashville State students currently participating in the Nashville GRAD program, which seeks to close equity gaps and increase the number of Nashvillians who have earned a postsecondary degree or credential.
The $100,000 investment announced today will ensure students have the wrap-around support needed to persist while in college.
“As Nashville’s Community College, we are focused on holistically supporting our students based on what they need to be successful,” said Dr. Shanna L. Jackson, Nashville State’s president. “We are grateful for Amazon’s generous gift and collaborative partnership.”
Nashville GRAD (Getting Results by Advancing Degrees) complements the State of Tennessee’s programs for tuition-free college, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect. GRAD provides resources beyond tuition, including a laptop, textbooks, transportation and food assistance, and a dedicated success advisor. In order to be eligible, applicants must be a full-time Nashville State student and reside full-time in Davidson County one year prior to completing the FAFSA.
“For students juggling work and life responsibilities, completing college can be challenging,” said Courtney Ross, Amazon’s senior manager of external affairs in Nashville. “By providing more students with support they need to secure their degrees, Nashville GRAD is opening doors of opportunity, right here, in Nashville. We’re honored to support this initiative and hope our investment will encourage other companies to deepen their involvement, as well.”
The program is a public-private partnership being implemented through a financial assistance fund that includes investments from Metro Nashville Government and funding from local business partners including: HCA, Piedmont Natural Gas, Alliance Bernstein, the Tennessee Titans, Verizon Wireless, Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Bank of America, Memorial Foundation, and Southwest Airlines. Nashville GRAD was launched with its first cohort of students in Fall 2019 through the initiative of the Mayor and Metro Council.
“We are incredibly grateful to have the support of Amazon in our work to build an educated workforce through Nashville GRAD. This investment will enhance our strategic focus on improving successful outcomes for all our students,” said Nashville State Foundation Executive Director Lauren Bell.
More Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) graduates attend Nashville State than any other college.
To help more MNPS graduates prepare for, attend, and complete college, Dr. Jackson and Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of Metro Schools, launched a joint venture in early 2020 called Better Together. Nashville GRAD is a key element of Better Together.
“As we built out and worked to define Better Together, we quickly realized how critical the growth and success of Nashville GRAD is to ensuring MNPS graduates have not only a smooth transition from high school to college but also the support they need in college,” said Dr. Battle. “GRAD has been helping students achieve their dreams of going to college and succeeding there, with the ultimate goal of graduating and going on to greater success.”
Jacqueline Peach, a McGavock High School graduate, who is studying psychology at Nashville State, said of Nashville GRAD, “I have never left a meeting with my advisor without feeling a sense of encouragement and of assurance that I am doing the right thing.”
“Nashville GRAD is one of the best things I have ever signed myself up for, and I will always be thankful for the program and opportunity Nashville State has placed before me.”
Dulce Davila, a graduate of Antioch High School, who is studying to become a surgical technician, conveyed a similar sentiment.
“With the help of this program and my advisor I have met my goals. I became a straight A student with a 4.0 GPA on the Dean’s list my first semester of college.”