Giving young learners the gift of possibility

The Tennessee ACRAO Annual Meeting has a tradition of active engagement within host cities' communities through the TACRAO  Annual Meeting Service Project. In the past, the service projects have donated books to the imagination library, supported the work of Boys and Girls Clubs, and contributed to other important community-based organizations.The service organizations are selected by the local arrangements planning committee.

The 2017 Annual Meeting project offered attendees a unique way to reach students while also helping schools distribute any leftover institutionally-branded “swag” to at-risk youth. The TACRAO conference committed selected two organizations in the Nashville area, which happened to be where their annual meeting was held this year. The Ayers Foundation, based in Southern Middle TN, and the Oasis Center, based in Metro Nashville.

“I personally have worked with both of the organizations throughout my time in higher education and have seen the impact they have made in the area,” said TACRAO President Kerry Hines, Regional Transfer Counselor, The University of Tennessee. “The Service Project this year took off even more than I expected it to. I think we had close to 100 percent participation.”

The planning committee invited colleges to bring their extra “swag” -- coffee cups, pens, reusable bags, t-shirts, notepads, and other items with the college insignia on it -- to donate to the two organizations, which will then distribute the items to students at various points of contact.

“These are both early-access programs for colleges, and giving students these college materials can help kids imagine themselves on your campus--even if they’ve never thought about going to college before, or if they’ve never heard of your school,” Hines said. “Sometimes, just exposing kids to college can spark their imaginations and help them find the right fit.”