Frequently Asked Questions

  • In a county where there is more than one district, do all special school districts need to apply together?

Yes, all districts in the county must apply together.

  • What are the eligibility criteria for schools to participate in the Ayers Scholars Program? For instance, is there a certain percentage of Free and Reduced Priced Lunch, ACT averages, college-going rate percentages, etc?

To participate, schools must be located in an eligible county. To be eligible, a county must be identified as at-risk or distressed by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). 

  • The Request for Proposals mentions that the word limit for each short answer question is 500 words. Is the word limit 500 words for each question or each group of questions? 

Section 3 of the proposal includes three groups of questions organized by topic areas: Commitment to Improving College-Going Outcomes, Commitment to Student Access, and Commitment to Physical Space. Applicants are allowed 500 words for each topic area. 

  • There is mention of two different Ayers Scholars Program roles: the college access counselor and the student success coordinator. What are the general differences between the two roles? 

The college access counselor leads, plans, and coordinates the Ayers Scholars Program at the school. The counselor is the individual who will provide the bulk of the college access and success services to students. The student success coordinator supports the work of the counselor, manages the electronic database, and supports students after they enroll in postsecondary education. For counselors, we aim to have one counselor for every 100 high school seniors. Our goal is to have one coordinator for every school. There may be some instances where a coordinator will be shared between two schools. 

  • How much input will the district have (if any) in the selection process for choosing the college access counselors assigned to our schools?  

While the Ayers Foundation Trust will make final hiring decisions, districts are highly encouraged to share the job posting and to assist with recommendations. The Ayers Foundation Trust will discuss potential new hires with designated school administrators. 

  • Are Ayers Scholars Program staff state positions similar to how GEAR UP TN positions are considered state-based positions that are eligible for state benefits, etc? 

The college access counselor(s) and student success coordinator will be employees of the Ayers Foundation Trust. Employee benefits will be provided by the Trust and not the state or school district. 

  • What are the education requirements for college access counselors?

The Ayers Foundation Trust requires college access counselors to hold a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degrees are preferred. 

  • How does the Ayers Scholars Program work in conjunction with existing college access services?

To partner with your district, The Ayers Foundation Trust must be the county’s official Tennessee Promise Partnering Organization. The goal of the Ayers Scholars Program is for college access counselors to be the primary provider of college access services in the partner schools. That said, we will partner with the school and other providers to ensure there is alignment and coordination in providing services to seniors. We will also discuss partnerships during the team interviews. 

  • If our community chooses to not submit an application this year, can we submit a proposal next year? 

We do not know if there will be future requests for proposals. Future competitions will only be held as additional funding is made available. At this time, we are unable to guarantee that there will be future opportunities to apply. 

  • Will college access counselors follow the school schedule in terms of hours and days? 

Ayers college access counselors work 7:30 – 4:00 Monday through Friday, and we do not follow their school calendar. For instance, counselors will not automatically be off work during your county’s spring break. That said, many of our counselors will use their 28 days of paid time off during those breaks. Additionally, our counselors will be 12-month employees; they will provide services throughout the summer. 

  • Will the school system be responsible for any of the funding for the counselor(s) or the program?

New, recurring state funding through the Governor’s Rural Education Foundation initiative means that districts will not be responsible for any additional costs. Districts will, however, will be responsible for the following:

  • Providing private and highly-accessible workspace, access to equipment/technology as requested, and an onsite liaison to help the counselor integrate
  • Providing ongoing access to students, including counselors in planning for postsecondary
  • Helping connect each counselor to the local business community and postsecondary institutions
  • Providing feedback to The Ayers Foundation Trust on the counselor’s performance and the program
  • Collecting and sharing information and data as set out in the data agreement
  • Using best efforts to provide the Trust and counselors with the access and support needed to make the program a success