Kids at Metro Nashville Public Schools soon will be able to earn college credit for qualifying high school classes — free of charge, a gift from private dollars.
The newly developed One Step Ahead fund will be available to students at several, as yet undetermined, Metro schools as soon as this fall. It won’t be long, organizers say, before the program is available to all Metro students.
Mayor Karl Dean, one of the organizers of the fund, said Wednesday he’d like to see as many as half of all Metro juniors and seniors eventually taking advantage of the program.
“This will greatly increase the number of students that can take dual enrollment classes, which we know encourages them to stay in school, succeed and attend college after high school,” Dean said Wednesday in a statement.
Currently, Metro high school students attempting to pay for dual-enrollment credits — classes that count for both high school and college credit — are able to secure grant funding through the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, which is funded by the Tennessee Lottery.
According to Dean, the difference between funding provided by that grant and the actual cost of community college tuition comes to about $80 per class.
That $80 gap is what the One Step Ahead fund is intended to clear.
The fund was developed by Dean, the Nashville State Community College Foundation, United Way of Metro Nashville, the Ingram Charitable Fund and other local donors. The private dollars raised by Dean for the project are in addition to Dean’s Education First fund, which has utilized privately raised dollars to pay for initiatives like the first year of Teach for American in Nashville.
Dean said Wednesday that if demand for the scholarship funds outpaces donations, he plans to raise more funds. He said he’s confident that the project is one Nashville donors will continue to support.
Sydney Rogers, executive director of Alignment Nashville, said details of the project’s implementation are still being rolled out. Only a few high schools will likely participate this fall, she said, as communication efforts are ramped up.
Rogers said parents seeking more information should watch, in about a month, the Web sites of Alignment Nashville, Metro Nashville Public Schools and Nashville State.