PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam hosted a call for members of Rhode Island's business community today to discuss the successes of the Tennessee Promise scholarship initiative and answer questions about what Rhode Island has learned from Tennessee in developing the Rhode Island Promise scholarship initiative.
"When we make college more affordable, we create jobs," Raimondo said. "Today's conversation with leaders from Tennessee and Rhode Island showed that opportunity is not a partisan issue. A vote against the Rhode Island Promise is a vote against jobs for Rhode Islanders."
In 2014, Tennessee introduced a first-in-the-nation program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college. As a last-dollar scholarship, Tennessee Promise students may use the scholarship at any of the state's 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate's degree program.
"Tennessee's Promise has been critical to recruiting the workforce that we need," Haslam said. "I think long-term this might have as big an impact as anything we've done. One year after implementation, we have seen encouraging early data that shows increased enrollment and decreased student loan debt. With a relatively small investment, we are offering people a lot more realistic chance for a good-paying job after graduation."
AT&T Tennessee President Joelle Phillips also joined the call to share her experience as a member of the business community.
"This is clearly a program that is designed with business needs at its core," Phillips said. "It's about building an attractive business climate and creating opportunity across Tennessee."
Raimondo's Rhode Island Promise plan has been endorsed by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Congress, Providence Business News, and more.