published Friday, August 5th, 2011

Cleveland State Community College launches mentor program

By Paul Leach
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    Students walk to class at Cleveland State Community College in this file photo.

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For more information about the bradleyAchieves program, call Cleveland State Community College at 423-472-7141 or 800-604-2722. For more information about the tnAchieves program, visit its website at www.tnachieves.org/.

CLEVELAND, Tenn.—Cleveland State Community College, in cooperation with the Allan Jones Foundation, has launched bradleyAchieves, a financial and mentoring program to give Bradley County high school graduates an opportunity to attend the college in return for community service.

"This is a great day for education," Cleveland State president Dr. Carl Hite said Thursday afternoon while announcing the program's launch. "This is a great day for Bradley County."

The local program is part of the statewide tnAchieves program, which seeks to increase higher education opportunities for state students through "last-dollar" community college scholarships, school officials said. Such funding bridges the gap between tuition costs and any grants already awarded to qualifying students.

"As a result of the generosity of [Check Into Cash CEO] Allan Jones and the work of tnAchieves, we can now provide vital help to students who struggle to pay for a college education," Hite said in a news release.

"This is the first donation check where I don't know where the zeroes end," Jones joked as he presented the check representing the first installment for bradleyAchieves.

Cleveland State and Check Into Cash officials did not reveal the cost for starting the program, saying the final amount will be determined by the number of eligible high school graduates and the varying needs of each student.

The mentoring aspect of the program is what inspired Jones to back bradleyAchieves, the Cleveland businessman said.

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The program assigns volunteer mentors from business and community organizations to help students prepare for and succeed in college. Mentor support includes assisting students with admission and financial aid paperwork and simply encouraging them toward success.

Some college students who participate in knoxAchieves, the program on which bradleyAchieves is modeled, attended the conference and shared their experiences.

"It's not just the money," said Lauren Kramer, of Powell, Tenn., who attended Pellissippi State Community College.

Kramer cited the importance of having a mentor to guide her through the college process, and she said she was grateful for the chance to give back to the community by volunteering with an elementary after-school program.

The tnAchieves programs are economic development programs, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said. He said at least 60 percent of the jobs coming to the state today require some measure of higher education.

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