Tusculum University, Emerald Youth Foundation Partner to Help Urban Students Discern and Fulfill Calling


KNOXVILLE – Tusculum University and Emerald Youth Foundation are partnering to support Emerald Youth’s efforts to transform the future of urban youth toward long-term success and become Godly young adult leaders in the city.

The university has committed significant resources during the next three years for Emerald Youth’s Calling and Career Ministry, which helps high school students discern their post-graduation path. The Calling and Career Ministry centers are modeled after university learning and student success facilities. Tusculum’s financial and personnel contribution will assist with staffing, materials, technology and transportation costs associated with this innovative program.

Laura Bean-Allen, left, tutors student Louise Niyogushima at Emerald Youth’s Calling & Career Ministry Center.

Laura Bean-Allen, left, tutors student Louise Niyogushima at Emerald Youth’s Calling & Career Ministry Center.

Tusculum students will work alongside Emerald Youth employees and tutor and mentor program participants. In addition, the university will provide workshop speakers on topics such as the ACT and completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA.

Dr. James Hurley, Tusculum’s president, said the university is thrilled to engage with Emerald Youth and increase the likelihood its participants will continue their education after high school. Having a degree from a college or university dramatically increases earning potential and, ultimately, someone’s quality of life, he said.

“Emerald Youth Foundation has provided an admirable service that has made a profound difference in children’s lives for more than a quarter century,” Dr. Hurley said. “Tusculum University is grateful to develop a relationship with this faith-based organization and contribute to each child’s promise. We are committed to playing an active role in the community, and this collaboration with Emerald Youth Foundation aligns perfectly with our focus on civic engagement.”

Emerald Youth operates Calling and Career Ministry sites in the Oakwood-Lincoln Park and Mechanicsville neighborhoods and will open one soon in Lonsdale. Emerald Youth also hopes to open locations in East and South Knoxville in the coming years. The organization said the partnership with Tusculum will address Knoxville’s pervasive urban youth crisis. Consider these challenging statistics:

  • Half of the youth do not have a mentor such as a coach, tutor or youth worker.

  • Only 20 percent are known to participate in organized sports.

  • Just 15 percent are known to be active in developing their faith.

  • Urban youth are 50 percent behind their suburban peers academically, and the gap is widening.

“We are committed to changing the trajectory for Knoxville’s young people, and our partnership with Tusculum University is an important step to make such change possible,” said Steve Diggs, Emerald Youth’s president and CEO. “Tusculum’s support will further advance our Calling and Career Ministry with high school students in the heart of the city, helping prepare them for college and future gainful employment.”

For children to succeed in their lives and careers, Emerald Youth understands a holistic approach of engaging a child in faith, learning and health is needed from early childhood to young adult, and this includes learning to thrive in high school. To accomplish this goal, the organization provides abundant services and encourages students to think deeply about their futures by participating in job shadowing programs and college campus visits.

Austin-East High School student Javell Swanson works on his math assignment at Emerald Youth’s Calling & Career Ministry Center.

Austin-East High School student Javell Swanson works on his math assignment at Emerald Youth’s Calling & Career Ministry Center.

“The Calling and Career Ministry is for high school students and their parents,” said Dr. Shara Shoup, Emerald Youth’s chief operating officer. “Students can come in to access free Wi-Fi, have a quiet place to do their homework, get paired with a tutor, and take a college/career readiness workshop. There are also workshops for parents to help them support their children as they transition into post-secondary training and after high school, students are paired with life coaches to help with this transition as well.”

Tusculum’s involvement dovetails with the Calling and Career Ministry program because the university adheres to principles that emphasize the need to be civic-minded community leaders and lifelong learners.

The agreement also represents further investment in Knoxville by Tusculum, which has operated a campus in the city for about 15 years.

“We’re ecstatic to see this partnership with Emerald Youth come to fruition because it demonstrates our long history of serving students who might need some assistance along the way,” said Dr. Gregory Nelson, chairman of Tusculum’s Board of Trustees. “We have an outstanding university with first-rate students and faculty, and Emerald Youth has developed an exceptional program. This combination will enable these boys and girls we are serving to achieve their full potential.”

The Calling and Career Ministry is open to students Monday-Thursday afternoons.

For more information about Emerald Youth and its programs, please visit www.emeraldyouth.org. For more information about Tusculum, please visit www.tusculum.edu.

Tusculum University, the first higher education institution in Tennessee and the 28th oldest in the nation, provides a comprehensive education in a Judeo-Christian environment, grounded in a civic, liberal and medical arts curriculum with pathways for career preparation, personal development and civic engagement. About 1,800 students are enrolled on the main campus in Greeneville, at locations in Knoxville and Morristown and in online programs.

Since 1991, Emerald Youth Foundation worked to support Knoxville’s youth and prepare generations of Godly community leaders. Emerald Youth has engaged more than 25,000 children and young adults in a variety of community programs for nearly 30 years. Every year, Emerald Youth serves more than 2,200 children, teens and young adults in the heart of Knoxville through faith, learning and health programs.

Emerald Youth