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Students walk down the sidewalk next to the Art and Architecture Building
First-year students meet in their small group during Ignite, a three-day leadership development retreat hosted by the Jones Center for Leadership and Service. Volunteer Impact Academy students will start their four year journey at UT by participating in the Ignite program.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is launching a new leadership development and service program: the Volunteer Impact Academy, created through a partnership between UT’s Clay and Debbie Jones Center for Leadership and Service and Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The academy will provide an immersive four-year leadership and service cohort experience to students who embody what it means to be a Volunteer.

Volunteer Impact Scholars will be equipped with the foundational skills to improve themselves, the campus, local communities, and the world beyond. Their studies will include leadership development theory and the social change model, and they will take part in a living-learning community where they will have opportunities to engage outside the classroom.

The Volunteer Impact Academy includes a $2,000 scholarship that is automatically renewed each year, provided scholars remain in good academic standing and meet all program requirements. The first cohort will begin in fall 2021.

“The Volunteer Impact Academy offers a unique opportunity for students to explore and expand their leadership potential while also learning how their unique strengths and skills can best serve the community,” said Mandie Beeler, director of the Jones Center. “The intentionality of this program will truly allow participants to leave a lasting legacy on campus and throughout the communities they will serve.”

Each year of the program is focused on a different theme. The first year focuses on self-reflection as scholars create their own definition of what it means to be a Vol. In the second year, they learn to work with other Volunteers to make an impact on campus. The third year focuses on community engagement. In the final year, scholars are empowered by the connections and experience they have gained to make a global impact and leave a lasting legacy at UT.

Prospective students can apply for Volunteer Impact Academy after completing their application for admission. The application, which is available in the UT admissions portal, includes three essay questions and an optional letter of recommendation. The deadline to apply for the academy is January 15, 2021. For more information, visit or contact Program Coordinator Brooke Squires at


Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993,

Brooke Squires (865-974-1039,