Shelby County still in need of Tennessee Promise mentors on application deadline day

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Friday is the deadline for people interested in mentoring Tennessee Promise students to apply.

As of early Friday evening, the program still needed about 200 mentors for Shelby County.

The Tennessee Promise is a program Governor Bill Haslam put forward to increase Tennessee's college-going rate.

It gives students two years of community or technical college for free, and covers costs that scholarships do not.

High school seniors who apply for the Tennessee Promise must meet certain requirements, including working with a mentor.

Tennessee Promise's website said, "Mentors are crucial to the Tennessee Promise program. They are the folks who will help students navigate the college admissions process and ensure they complete Tennessee Promise program requirements in order to receive the scholarship."

Kiara Suggs is the Regional Coordinator for tnAchieves, which is the organization that administers the Tennessee Promise scholarships.

She said Shelby County has the most students pursuing the Tennessee Promise.

Mentors meet with five to 10 high school seniors about twice a year.

"Making sure that the students are aware of the tnAchieves deadlines, they've completed their FAFSA, that they have completed their eight hours of community service, and really, just being that personal touch to our program," Suggs said.

This school year, 8,277 Shelby County students applied for Tennessee Promise, which means tnAchieves would like to have 1,182 mentors to help them.

Suggs said if Shelby County does not get the number of mentor applications it is shooting for by the end of Friday, tnAchieves staff and existing mentors will pick up the slack.

WREG spoke with Justin Jamerson, who served as a mentor last year.

He described the experience as, "Very rewarding. It doesn't take very much of your time."

Mentors have to be 21 or older and be willing to go through a background check.

You may apply here.

Last year was the first time high school seniors could apply for the Tennessee Promise.

Those students are now in their first year of community or technical college.

Tennessee Promise Executive Director Mike Krause confirmed with WREG that over the last year, under the program, college enrollment increased 10%.

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