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State Explores Policy Changes to Boost College Success

Government, business and nonprofit leaders in Tennessee are teaming up to explore policy changes that would help more young people reach and succeed in college – changes that other states could emulate.
Information Update
May 30, 2012

The 16 policy recommendations unveiled this week include changing how financial aid is distributed, creating new partnerships between schools and businesses, providing more trained counselors to high schoolers and increasing access to child care for college students.

The recommendations were developed by the Forum for Youth Investment and the Tennessee College Access and Success Network through the Forum’s Ready by 21, Credentialed by 26 initiative, which helps states strengthen their economic futures by boosting higher education access and success.

“Job creation and education are inextricably linked, and with the jobs of the future requiring more Tennesseans to have college degrees, we must improve college access in the state,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The Credentialed by 26 initiative included a “scan” of state policies affecting college access and success, and a roundtable discussion last month that included leaders from the governor’s office, state and local government agencies, and higher education institutions, as well as college students and advocates for youth. Read about similar policy scans and roundtables in Florida and Maryland here.

“We brought these leaders together because college access and success depends on more than the higher education system,” said Elizabeth Gaines, policy director of the Forum. “Students depend on programs, services and supports from state agencies such as health and human services, child welfare, transportation, labor and the K-12 education system.”

The roundtable and recommendations “gave stakeholders from the many agencies that contribute to postsecondary achievement the chance to discuss our roles and how various initiatives can create new partnerships” to increase college success, said Gwen Watson, chief policy officer of the Tennessee Achievement School District.

The recommendations, which can be seen here, focus on changes that could be accomplished for low to moderate cost. The participants will explore how to move forward, with facilitation by the College Access and Success Network.

Collaboration is essential for success. Bob Obrohta, executive director of the Network, noted that the policy ideas “are part of an effort by the state to get our agencies and organizations working together toward the goal” of making Tennessee “more college-friendly.”

For more information about the project, contact Forum Policy Director Elizabeth Gaines at 202-207-3714,

Ready by 21® is a set of innovative strategies developed by the Forum for Youth Investment that helps communities and states improve the odds that all children and youth will be ready for college, work and life.

Driven by the mission to increase the number of Tennesseans completing postsecondary opportunities, the Tennessee College Access and Success Network aims to establish a college-going culture in communities across the state., 615-983-6909.