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Students during class in the John C. Hodges Library...Photo by Jack Parker
Assistant Director of First-Year Programs Stephanie Langley (standing) works with students in the John C. Hodges Library. Photo by Jack Parker.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been selected as one of eight universities and colleges to receive a $25,000 grant as a member of the inaugural Promising Practice Accelerator for the American Talent Initiative.

UT has set a bold vision to increase the percentage of students who remain in school and graduate, especially for low-income students and other special populations.

“We’re honored to be chosen for this inaugural grant. This grant further allows us to transform the student experience and supports critical goals in the university’s strategic vision,” said Amber Williams, vice provost for student success. “By challenging our students and developing the systems to support them, we believe our Volunteers will thrive.”

This fall, the accelerator grant will allow UT to pilot a transformative experience for more than 100 low-income new Volunteers. UT will develop a customized summer bridge program, personalized academic support, and financial wellness resources and conversations by creating a comprehensive approach to student well-being and success.

“We are excited for this opportunity to enhance the Volunteer experience for students on campus. The ATI initiative aligns well with UT’s access mission and will further help students achieve their educational goals,” said Kari Alldredge, vice provost for the Division of Enrollment Management. “We are grateful to have been selected among seven other outstanding schools across the country and cannot wait to see how the grant-supported initiative positively impacts the lives of our students.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies funds the grant. The other schools selected are Barnard College, Hope College, Lebanon Valley College, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University, the University of Dayton, and Wofford College.

ATI facilitates research, practice-sharing, and communications campaigns around presidential leadership, access and affordability, community college transfer, student veteran engagement, and student success and equity in the academic experience. The support is intended to help members progress toward their enrollment goals for lower-income students and minimize equity-based graduation gaps by 2025.


Lacey Wood (, 865-974-8386)

Brooks Clark (, 865-974-5471)