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APSU and Nashville State unveil innovative partnership to enroll more Black male students

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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay State University (APSU) and Nashville State Community College (NSCC) have developed an innovative partnership to help attract and retain a specific student population that is decreasing nationwide – Black male college students. On May 18, APSU and NSCC officially endorsed the Black Male Bridge Program Memo of Understanding, making it easier than ever for these students to earn a college degree.

“This is an important and exciting partnership for both our schools and our community,” Mike Licari, APSU president, said. “Nashville State will welcome these students to campus, providing them with the services and support they need to succeed, and once they’ve earned an associate degree, the Bridge program members will be guaranteed admission into Austin Peay.”

“Nashville State is excited about expanding our partnering with APSU to meet community needs,” said Nashville State President Dr. Shanna L. Jackson. "Access to education is not enough. Our college has been working to identify and remove barriers to completion for all students. The opportunity to work with APSU to provide wrap-around supports for black men is just one part of our bold strategy to increase post-completion success."

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In 2018, the Education Trust – a nationally renowned nonprofit – reported that only 26.5 percent of the country’s Black men had college degrees, compared to 44.3 percent of white men. Two years after that report, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, causing college enrollment among Black men to eventually fall 14.3 percent – one of the largest demographic population drops in the country.

Earlier this spring, the PBS NewsHour reported how the pandemic caused these students to leave campuses “in droves,” leading university admission’s officers and policy makers to rethink how they should recruit these students.

“We spent the last several months looking at the hurdles these students face when enrolling in college,” Dannelle Whiteside, APSU vice president for legal affairs and organizational strategy, said. “It didn’t take long to see that, by partnering with Nashville State, we could help students through our collected resources, giving them access to specialized mentoring programs, housing and other support services.”

“We began talking strategically about how we can create a system where students feel like that they belong and succeed while in school and afterwards,” Kathleen Akers, Nashville State’s Clarksville campus director said. “Nashville State is excited to launch this partnership with APSU and thank them for being great partners in this meaningful, impactful, and life-altering venture.”

The Black Male Bridge (BMB) program will begin this fall with eligible students first enrolling at Nashville State. While attending classes at the community college’s Clarksville campus, BMB students will be able to take advantage of APSU’s student services, including housing, dining, University recreation facilities and student tickets to athletic events.

The BMB students who choose to live at Austin Peay will be part of the Black Male Bridge living and learning community, housed in one of APSU’s residence halls.

Each semester, BMB students will participate in targeted academic success programming, mentoring, professional development and coaching, and social programming at both schools. BMB advisers and other academic support staff also will work to ensure the program’s participants stay on track toward earning an associate degree at Nashville State and a bachelor’s degree at Austin Peay.

At Nashville State, BMB participants will have access to academic advising, free tutoring, support services and academic success workshops. At Austin Peay, BMB participants will have a dedicated academic adviser, tutoring resources such as the Writing Center, and other student support services such as Career Services, Student Health Services, and the Counseling Center.

As Austin Peay students, BMB participants will also join the University’s Achievers and Scholars Initiative, housed within APSU’s Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center. That program also provides resource and incentives that encourage student success among Black male students.

For information on the BMB program, including scholarships, housing, financial aid and other resources, visit https://www.apsu.edu/aacc/a-s/.

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