Amazon Doubles Down on Nashville GRAD Program


Approximately seven months after stepping up with a $100,000 investment in the Nashville GRAD program for Nashville State Community College students, Amazon has doubled that with another $100,000.

The combined $200,000 investment will ensure students have the wrap-around support needed to persist while in college. Nashville GRAD aims to increase the number of Nashvillians who have earned a postsecondary degree or credential.

“As Nashville’s community college, we are focused on holistically supporting the success of our students,” said Dr. Shanna L. Jackson, Nashville State’s president. “We appreciate Amazon for continuing to step up and for their collaborative partnership.”

Nashville GRAD (Getting Results by Advancing Degrees) complements the State of Tennessee’s programs for tuition-free college, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect. GRAD provides wrap-around resources beyond tuition, including a laptop, textbooks, transportation and food assistance, and a dedicated success advisor. In order to be eligible, applicants must be full-time Nashville State students and reside full-time in Davidson County one year prior to completing the FAFSA.

“Data is showing that wraparound supports provided through Nashville GRAD is making a difference in student persistence and producing successful outcomes,” said Courtney Ross, Amazon’s senior manager of external affairs in Nashville. “We hope that our investment encourages other organizations to either deepen their commitment or come to the table. Nashville State Community College is an important local partner in creating a pipeline of talent across many sectors, including tech, business, and healthcare.”

The program is a public-private partnership being implemented through a financial assistance fund that includes investments from Metro Nashville Government and funding from local business partners including Alliance Bernstein, Bank of America, HCA, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Memorial Foundation, Nashville State Community College Foundation, Piedmont Natural Gas, Tennessee Titans, Southwest Airlines, and Verizon Wireless.

Nashville GRAD was launched with its first cohort of students in Fall 2019. The first cohort graduated after the Spring 2021 semester. Additionally, from fall 2020 to spring 2021, the persistence rate for GRAD students was 84% compared to 68% for non-GRAD students.

“This investment will enhance our strategic focus on improving successful student outcomes while helping fulfill local workforce needs with educated and skilled professionals,” said Nashville State Foundation Executive Director Lauren Bell.

Nashville GRAD is a key element of Better Together. More Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) graduates attend Nashville State than any other college.

To help more MNPS graduates prepare for, attend, and complete college, Dr. Jackson and Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of Metro Schools, launched a joint venture in early 2020 called Better Together.

“As we built out and worked to define Better Together, we quickly realized how critical the growth and success of Nashville GRAD is to ensuring MNPS graduates have not only a smooth transition from high school to college but also the support they need in college,” said Dr. Battle earlier this year.

“GRAD has been helping students achieve their dreams of going to college and succeeding there, with the ultimate goal of graduating and going on to greater success.”

The application deadline for Nashville GRAD is August 11. It is free and easy to complete. Staff is available to assist. The fall semester begins on August 23. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time Nashville State students and residents full-time in Davidson County.

To learn more about the program, visit, email, or call 615-353-3655.

Amazon doubles down on Nashville GRAD program
Amazon doubles down on Nashville GRAD program.

Categorized As