Ayers Scholars Program Expansion


Applicants will use the two upload links below to submit a proposal. The Submit A Proposal button will allow applicants to upload a completed Proposal Template. Click the Submit Letters of Support button to upload all required support letters. Please ensure that the name of the applying county is included in the file name of all submitted documents. The proposal deadline is May 19, 2023.


Governor Bill Lee has articulated a goal to work alongside local leaders, non-profits, and community organizations in rural communities to spur economic growth, increase opportunities for success, and defend a way of life that adds tremendous value to the prosperity of Tennessee. Driven by his priority to support Tennessee’s distressed and at-risk counties, Governor Lee’s administration created the Governor’s Rural Education Foundation to improve college access opportunities and college readiness skills for more Tennessee students. In 2021, with the support of Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, the Ayers Scholars Program was called on to scale its highly-successful college access and completion program to more distressed and at-risk communities across Tennessee. Now, thanks to additional funding and support from Governor Lee and the General Assembly, we are pleased to announce a Request for Proposals to expand the Ayers Scholars Program to even more counties beginning this Fall 2023.

The Opportunity

The Ayers Foundation Trust realizes that rural communities have the passion and dedication but not always the resources needed to improve college, career, and military readiness for their high school students.

To meet this need, the Ayers Foundation Trust will partner with select distressed and at-risk rural counties to expand its college readiness and access model by leveraging new, recurring state funding through the Governor's Rural Education Foundation initiative. These rural counties will be selected using a competitive application process.

Students attending schools in selected communities will receive college access and success services offered by the Ayers Scholars Program, including expert, full-time, trained college access counselors serving students from 8th grade through postsecondary completion. Counselors are underwritten by the Ayers Foundation Trust and provide every student with the opportunity and support to pursue a postsecondary option best suited to their unique interests, strengths, and needs.



Key Considerations for Applicants

  • Only school districts in designated distressed and at-risk counties may apply. If there is more than one school district in the designated at-risk or distressed county, the interested school districts must apply together to represent the county.
  • Full-time Ayers Scholars Program (ASP) college access counselors will be selected and employed by the Ayers Foundation Trust in a supportive partnership with the school district.
  • Participating school districts will have no required financial obligation or match regarding the partnership and implementation of the Ayers Scholars Program. However, the school district must commit to providing Ayers Scholars Program staff with school-based private offices.
  • The school district must commit to ensuring that Ayers Scholars Program staff remain independent and are focused solely on implementing college access and success services.
  • The number of Ayers Scholars Program staff placed in partner high schools will depend on the student population and the number of high schools in the county. The final number of counselors and coordinators assigned to each school will be determined at the time of school selection. 

Find full details of partnership requirements and responsibilities of districts and the Ayers Foundation Trust in the Request for Proposals.

Proposal Submission Deadline: May 19, 2023