Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

UT Project GRAD History

Graduation Really Achieves Dreams! (GRAD)

A K-16 national education initiative, Project GRAD began in 1989 as a scholarship program in the Houston, TX Independent School District. Project GRAD now serves 149,000 youth in 247 schools in 22 communities across the United States—many from historically underrepresented populations (first-generation, minority). Project GRAD is also impacting the future of our local region and city, serving more than 7,000 students in 14 Heart of Knoxville schools and 80 higher education institutions since its establishment in Knoxville in 2001.

At The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the Project GRAD Summer Institute began in 2001 as a collaboration between Project GRAD Knoxville and The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The program is administered out of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences under the direction of Dean Bob Rider. It is housed in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies under the leadership of Norma Mertz. The Summer Institute is co-directed by Dorian L. McCoy, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, and Shawn Spurgeon, Associate Professor, Educational Psychology & Counseling.

The Summer Institute is in its 18th year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and has students from Fulton and Austin East High Schools attend week-long residential sessions.