Austin East and Fulton high school students are arriving at the University of Tennessee Sunday, June 3, 2018 to begin the week-long Project GRAD Summer Institute.

75 rising juniors and seniors are participating. They will live on campus and attend college-preparatory classes.

Project GRAD Summer Institute is a program aimed at exposing high school students to the academic expectations of college and to encourage them to consider college as a viable possibility.

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The Summer Institute also helps students qualify for scholarships. Austin East and Fulton students who graduate on time with at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and attend two summer institutes - one at Pellissippi State Community College or Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and one at the University of Tennessee - are eligible to receive a $1,000 per year Project GRAD scholarship.

Project GRAD is an elementary through post-high school initiative that serves 14 schools. It is a nationally recognized college and career access program. It is known for improving college attendance rates by focusing on student achievement in high school, graduation rates, and career and college readiness.

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Project GRAD Knoxville was started in 2001. In April, Knox County Schools talked about cutting funding for the program because of budget cuts. In May, the school board decided to continue the district's partnership with Project GRAD for another five years after receiving an additional $2 million from the state. The new agreement does however scale back funding for Project GRAD and magnet schools compared to the amount they have received in previous years.