American Baptist College receives $80,000 to participate in the Bridge Program, which is a four-week session for students who need academic assistance before entering college. Funds are provided by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) in an effort to strengthen HBCU student outreach.

Rep. Harold Love, Jr. (D-Nashville) has championed opportunities for American Baptist to participate in the state-sponsored Bridge Program. “Now the state will be focusing on increasing graduation rates, enrollment rates and retention rates” at all seven of the state’s HBCUs, Love said.

The program allows for 20 students to be on the ABC campus beginning, Monday, July 8. The funding for the HBCU Summer Bridge Program is one of the initiatives made possible with the passing of this bill.

In a statement when the bill was signed into law, Rep. Love said, “The law is the first of its kind, and sends a message directly from the state that “we’re concerned about all HBCUs.”

“We are honored to be a part of this newly created initiative, funded by the state to support HBCU’s and guide students as they prepare to enter college,” said Dr. Forrest Harris, president of American Baptist College.

The bill included the creation of an office within the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to support the institutions. The THE- HBCU initiative provides consistent support on the state level which includes the state funding of programs, collaborative partnerships between the Tennessee HBCUs and training sessions for the institutions. In addition to the grant funding provided for the HBCU Summer Bridge programs, gatherings such as the HBCU Day on the Hill, sponsored by the THEC HBCU office have provided an excellent opportunity for relationship building among our state’s HBCU institutions. Programs such as the HBCU Day on the Hill created an opportunity for the HBCU executive leadership to speak with local and state legislators to help strengthen the relationships with lawmakers regarding the needs of their institutions.

The law also calls for improvements in communications with HBCUs so that they are able to “inform public policy and practice” and in general strengthen the relationship between HBCUs and their lawmakers. “American Baptist College is a significant institution of higher education with a rich history of preparing some of this nation’s best leaders in a faith-based foundation and a social justice perspective,” said Rep. Love.

Former Senator Reginald Tate (D-Shelby) worked with Rep. Harold Love, Jr. in sponsoring the legislation.

American Baptist College has a 95-year history of being a place of refuge with thought-provoking ideas and developing thinkers who are change-agents in the community and society at large.