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Tennessee Scholars Adds Value to a Diploma

Tennessee Scholars is now a nonprofit 5013c organization with a mission of motivating students to take a more rigorous course of study and meet requirements of attendance, discipline, and 80 hours of volunteer service during their high school career.All students are eligible to apply if their school is participating. Please contact your school counselor to apply.

The new contact information is Ruth Woodall, Executive Director, 615-686-8883,

                      TN Scholars Wilson CountyObion County Tennessee Scholars 2010P1010033 (2)                                                                                                        
Tennessee Scholars is celebrating 13 years of helping add value to the high school diploma of students in Tennessee. Over 35,000 students have chosen this path for graduation since 2004.  Beginning with the class of 2016, the Tennessee Scholars program will be changed to Tennessee Scholars Nonprofit. Eastman Chemical Company began the program over 20 years ago as AIMS Scholars. Eastman has financially supported Scholars since it beginning in 1994. The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been the home for the past 12 years and has been the number one supporter as one of their workforce initiatives .  Many other businesses and foundations have helped to sustain and grow the program. It is now a statewide program of recognition for students who graduate workforce ready. Tennessee Scholars is proud to be a partner with Tennessee Promise and all other education/workforce initiatives that are helping Tennessee students graduate prepared.
Any student in any high school in the State if Tennessee may choose to graduate as a Tennessee Scholar. Tennessee Scholars is a tool to help students enter post secondary better prepared for success.  The program adds value to a diploma in that some Tennessee Post Secondary Schools offer scholarships, many business and industry offer job preferential hiring, and there are rewards at graduation for completion of the program.
Students must complete the requirements and complete the checklist by the second semester of their senior year.  A student can enter the program at any time during their high school career, but the requirements are for all four years.  If the student wishes to enter the program please contact the counselor at the school  and enroll with them.  If your school does not participate, they must  contact Ruth Woodall at for more information.
Tennessee Scholars began in 1994 as Appalachian Inter Mountain Scholars (AIMS), a program of Eastman Chemical Company. Their goal was to motivate students to graduate better prepared for their company’s job market.  In 2003 Eastman and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry brought the scholars program to the rest of the state and changed the name to Tennessee Scholars. Since 2003 more than 30,000 students have chosen to graduate as a Tennessee Scholar.
Created by employers and educators, Tennessee Scholars utilizes a challenging curriculum and personal life activities to help students gain the skills and competencies they will need to better succeed in a job, post-secondary education or even the military.  Its purpose is advanced by having local business leaders enter high school classrooms and present students with the information they need to select the high school course of study that is relevant and will prepare them for better-paying opportunities and success.
In 95 of the counties in Tennessee the business community, education community and students join together to provide the Tennessee Scholars program to our high school students. Tennessee Scholars is important today because there has been significant shift away from unskilled jobs that require only short, on-the-job training to skilled jobs that require one- to two-years beyond a high school education, such as a technical certification program, specialized training or associate’s degree.   Today’s businesses acknowledge that 90 percent of the positions in the fastest growing portions of the job market will require some education after high school.
Tennessee Scholars motivates all high school students to complete a defined, rigorous course of study.  To graduate with the Tennessee Scholar designation, a student must maintain a “C” average in all courses, complete eighty volunteer service hours; have no out-of-school suspensions; and maintain a 95% attendance record.
The program begins in early grade when local business leaders go into the classroom and explain how the Tennessee Scholars course of study can impact a students’ future or school counselors introduce this to students and parents.   The presentation delivers the message that good, well- paying jobs go to those who have completed a rigorous and meaningful course of study. The program continues as local business and education leaders recognize and support students committed to becoming Tennessee Scholars throughout high school using additional presentations, academic supports, and incentives.  And finally, each high school senior completing the Tennessee Scholars is honored by the community with an event at the end of the school year or during commencement exercises and graduation.
The road to becoming a Tennessee Scholar has a significant and positive impact on students.  It improves their chances to receive and maintain the Hope Scholarship and funding from Tennessee Promise. According to statistical data, Tennessee Scholars students have a higher percentage of graduating with at least a B average and of scoring a 24 on the ACT, thus having the potential to qualify for more scholarships and to maintain a grade point average in college to keep those scholarships. Statistics show, for example, that more than 80 percent of Tennessee Scholars who are awarded the Hope Scholarship keep it in college and complete school in less time.  Tennessee Scholars are sought after by the military and employers, where they are often offered job preferential hiring because they have developed key workforce skills and competencies.
Tennessee Scholars focuses on a pre-determined “stretch” curriculum Tennessee Scholars Checklist and volunteer form 2015 that emphasizes higher-level math and science, language arts, and social studies and a set of additional workforce development requirements of attendance, discipline, and volunteer service.  It is oriented toward all students, and particularly encourages the middle-ability students to raise their expectations.
Tennessee Scholars is a statewide workforce development program that carries with it rewards and incentives. Partners include the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tennessee Manufacturers Association, SCORE, TNSCORE, TSIN, Kiwanis, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, United Way, Project Lead the Way, Work America , Rotary International,  Urban League, Tennessee Chambers of Commerce Executives, Volunteer Tennessee, American Chemical Society, Tennessee College Access and Success Network, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development as part of its 3 Star program. All Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology support Tennessee Scholars by offering financial assistance to any Tennessee Scholars graduate. Numerous other Universities (public and private) offer scholarships.
To learn more about the Tennessee Scholars program or to become a student participant or a business volunteer, please contact; Ruth Woodall, 615-686-8883 or