YMCA Latino Achievers

Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Support Services
Key Personnel
Program Focus
College Prep


The YMCA Latino Achievers program (YLA) inspires and empowers Latino students to discover their strengths, shape their futures, and transform the world. YLA uses evidence-based strategies to increase high school graduation, college application, and enrollment rates for Latino youth. 

YLA serves Latino high school students (ages 14-21) in nine public schools in Nashville’s metro schools. YLA serves schools that have two to seven times more Latino youth than the state average of 9.0%, lower than average high school graduation rates, have lower than average ACT scores, and will graduate mostly first-generation college students.

Program Description

Latino Achievers was adopted in by the YMCA of Middle Tennessee in 2002 to address low high school graduation rates and college matriculation rates of Latino students. Since then, the program has grown to serve nine schools, with students from 18 area high schools attending workshops and field trips. 

YLA seeks to close the achievement gap for Latino students by using evidence-based practices to increase college application and enrollment rates for Latino students. These include:

  1. Increasing exposure to college through tours and fairs
  2. Building skills including ACT preparation and financial aid planning
  3. Encouraging mentorship and providing individualized counseling
  4. Introducing  professions through world of work tours
  5. After-school programming using a college readiness curriculum with a culturally responsive emphasis. 

YLA invites local Latino professionals to inspire and empower our students by sharing their experiences of being Latino in college and professional settings, both as guest speakers and in one-on-one meetings with students during our annual power lunch. 

In addition to continued participation with our program, students are encouraged to meet regularly with staff to receive additional support in their college application process. YLA also offers scholarships for our students, especially those who are ineligible for financial aid due to their residency status.


For the 2017-2018 academic year, YMCA Latino Achievers:

  • Held 89 club meetings at 7 school sites
  • Engaged more than 550 students in one or more YLA events
  • Provided direct one-to-one college counseling to more than 40 seniors
  • Offered 5 college tours and 2 World of Work tours free of charge to all YLA participants
  • Conducted 6 College Readiness workshops, focused on ACT preparation and the college application process
  • Assisted more than 48 students in completing one or more college applications
  • Offered a Career Ready Conference and Power Lunch
  • Led 6 cultural and community building activities 
  • 76% were first-generation college students
  • 100% Latino students graduated high school
  • 98% matriculated into a post-secondary educational institution