February #FindYourWhyTN Theme: Breaking Family Cycles

After 13 years and nearly 450,000 students served, tnAchieves understands the intrinsic nature of deciding to transition from high school to college. While for some students pursuing college is a forgone conclusion, many struggle with the value proposition associated with post-secondary education. This is particularly true for opportunity youth. tnAchieves has always battled the challenges of cultivating a college-going mindset within students; however, COVID-19 presents a next-level opportunity to reimagine how our organization provides information to students and stakeholders. Rather than simply focus on the how, today tnAchieves announces a six-month communications strategy centered on the why.

As always, tnAchieves builds its work for students allowing their voice to frame our strategy. We began this journey by asking Class of 2020 freshmen their why and received over 4,000 responses in one day! Students identified several recurring themes worthy of exploration including making family/self proud, building a better life/career, breaking family/generational cycles and feeling as if he/she had something to prove.

Find Your Why originated from a place of worry, a pit in our stomachs about losing more students who we know could be successful in spite of the pandemic with the right supports applied at the right time. More importantly, Find Your Why came from a place of opportunity. At tnAchieves, we believe every student is college material. We believe every student belongs in college and can earn a post-secondary credential. And as I say nearly every day of my life, we believe supports matter but the decision to make the leap from high school to college must begin with igniting the why.

As many of you know, I embrace my story: a girl from McMinnville (pronounced Mac-Minnville if you are a local!) who was the first in her family to attend college. My why at 17 was simple. While my parents gave me a great life, I wanted something different – a more fulfilling life that I knew only college could offer. Now at 41, I realize how my why changed the path for my three children. The cycle is forever broken.

Join us by sharing your why. By doing this, you are inspiring students. You are clearing a path that is too often obstructed by countless obstacles. Your story empowers our students. You help them identify the fire in their bellies! Your why matters – perhaps now more than ever.

I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the Class of 2021. I know many of you share this with me. Now is the time to be proactive and solutions-oriented. Who’s in?! #FindYourWhyTN

Krissy DeAlejandro, Executive Director

February Panel Discussion: Breaking Family Cycles

Krissy DeAlejandro Sumner Deason Mike Ragsdale Oscar