Mentors needed for Tennessee Promise students


SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Tennessee Promise provides high school students with two free years of college or technical school after graduation. Now, it needs volunteers as mentors to keep up with the volume.

Northeast State Community College has about 1,000 students using the Tennessee Promise Scholarship. Next year, Sullivan Central High School senior Taylor Sanders will be one of those.

"I'm very excited. It's very nerve racking going into a new environment, not really sure how to get around and stuff, but I think it will be fun," Sanders said.

Luckily, Sanders won't have to do it alone. Tennessee Achieves is a partnering organization with the scholarship program to provide mentors to each student.

Josh Johnson is the coordinator for county and state scholarship coordinator at Northeast State. Johnson said, "I don't think people in the area understand how much of a resource this is for those students beginning college." TN Achieves estimates mentors will spend about 10 hours a year with their students. "They're not familiar with the process. They don't know what financial aid is. They don't know how to complete the FAFSA. Most don't really understand what a college credit hour is," Johnson said.

Across our area, the need is great. Carter and Greene Counties have only filled about 28 percent of their mentor positions. Sullivan County sits at 31 percent, followed by Washington County at 34 percent. Johnson County has filled about 50 percent of their 20 volunteer positions. On the other hand, Hawkins County only needs 11 more of its 79 volunteers to complete its goal.

Unicoi County is not listed in TN Achieves statistics because it partners with another organization for mentors.

"I think that will help a lot just because you're new to the school and don't really know and just having someone to help you," Sanders said.

Northeast State graduated 186 Tennessee Promise students last year. Statewide, more than 9,000 students are expected to enter the program next year.

To apply to serve as a mentor, click here.

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