Office of Academic Affairs
Office of Academic Affairs
In March, 2016, TBR campus teams were convened in Nashville to discuss the beta version of the Lumina Foundation's Beyond Financial Aid (BFA) assessment guide. Each campus conducted a self-study of how they currently support low-income students and areas for improvement. The data from the self-studies guided campuses to create campus plans for how they would address areas of concern in the coming academic year. The System Office applied for and received funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support four AmeriCorps VISTA members for the 2016-17 academic year to build capacity around resources and services to support low-income students at each of the 46 TBR Institutions.
The VISTA members are responsible for building capacity among 46 institutions of higher education in Tennessee to provide support services to assist low-income individuals to enroll and complete a certificate or credential, with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of poverty. VISTA members will develop initiatives and process that increase the number of low-income and veteran students entering a Tennessee postsecondary institution, with particular attention towards recent high school graduates and returning adult learners.
1. Review data to identify low-income students and better understand their needs within TBR institutions.
2. Partner with TBR institutions in the development of financial aid packages that extend beyond tuition support to include benefits such as food assistance and health care.
3. Identify TBR and state-level policies that inhibit low-income student enrollment and persistence.
4. Identify ways to increase student academic progression and use data to develop campus-level interventions.
5. Leverage relationship with TN Promise partnering organizations, local, and regional services agencies to facilitate outreach to low income and veteran students to enrollin postsecondary education.
6. Develop a system-level plan to assist TBR institutions in the implementation of financial literacy training for all incoming students.
7. Develop career service outreach plans for TBR institutions to expand job placement services for students from low-income backgrounds.
Sakeema Muhammad is native of Birmingham, AL and recently graduated from Berea College with a degree in Child and Family Studies. She is most interested in serving vulnerable and low income communities and plans to get her Masters Degree in Social Work upon completing her AmeriCorps service. Her passion is for providing services to low income communities has motivated her to serve as a VISTA with the Tennessee Board of Regents.