KNOXVILLE — Gov. Don Sundquist, the University of Tennessee and the Appalachian Regional Commission Thursday awarded four East Tennessee school systems $10,000 each to encourage high school students to attend college.
The funds go to schools in Campbell, Fentress, Johnson and Scott counties, where college-going
rates are about 35 percent, compared to a national average of 65 percent.
The awards are the first presented as part of the Tennessee Appalachian Higher Education Center, established in March to provide grants, technical assistance, information on higher education and other resources to designated schools and communities.
“Through this center, we can encourage more students in the Appalachian region of our state to complete high school and continue their education,” Sundquist said.
“I am the first in my family to go to college. I probably represent a lot of people in Tennessee whose families did not get a chance to go to college, but that is not the way of the future.
“Post-secondary education is more and more necessary. This program will make continuing our education a viable opportunity.”
High schools working with similar ARC programs in Ohio and West Virginia have seen college-going rates rise above 70 percent.
UT President John Shumaker cited the positive impact of another center in Kentucky, where he was
Dr. Jesse L. White Jr., ARC federal co-chairman
president of the University of Louisville.
Shumaker said that he expects similar results in Tennessee.
“At the University of Louisville, I was able to observe first-hand the impact the Kentucky center is having on designated counties in the Commonwealth,” Shumaker said. “Indications are it will be as successful as Ohio and West Virginia in doubling or tripling college attendance of students in the target group.
“I am confident that the same pattern will continue in Tennessee. Given access, encouragement and the vision of how they can be successful, these students really can thrive in the context of a robust public university.”
Dr. Jesse L. White Jr., ARC federal co-chairman, said the program not only helps education in the region but can also boost the national economy.
“It is in the nation’s interest for Appalachia to be fully competitive and fully at the table of the national economy, and for us to make our region more productive so that we are a net contributor to national wealth,” White said
The Kellogg Foundation also sponsors the Tennessee Appalachian Higher Education Center, White said. Other centers recently have been launched in Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi, he said.