Recognizing the special relationship that exists between neighbors, communities across the nation are spearheading innovative programs to build, amplify, and leverage social networks in distressed communities to reach residents not yet enrolled in higher education. Grounded in existing relationships and established trust, the Chamber of Commerce in Nashville, Tennessee developed a program to equip community members in the Nashville Promise Zone (NPZ) with the tools and information to reach potential students where they are – literally.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Through Nashville’s Reconnect Ambassador Program shares how the Chamber of Commerce in Nashville, Tennessee is helping neighbors connect in order to promote access and completion. As a result, area institutions, including Nashville State Community College, are seeing an increase in enrollment of students of color.
The guidebook is part of the Innovative Strategies to Close Postsecondary Attainment Gap series, a component of IHEP’s work with communities that have shown the ability and commitment to significantly increase college-level learning among students of all backgrounds. Through an interview with Laura Ward, Vice President of Talent Development, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the guidebook outlines the goals, partnerships, implementation, and impact of the Reconnect Ambassador program as a strategy to build meaningful connections across community networks and increase equity in postsecondary education. Partner and ambassador spotlights throughout the guidebook share community members’ insights into the benefits of developing a community-based initiative such as Reconnect Ambassadors.
For those interested in implementing a similar community-based approach to building social capital, IHEP developed an Ambassador Program Planning Guide to engage students who otherwise might not have the support to connect – or reconnect – with higher education.
Talent Hubs are communities that have shown the ability and commitment to significantly increase college-level learning among residents of all backgrounds. Talent Hubs are officially designated as such by Lumina Foundation, with support from the Kresge Foundation.