East Nashville native's nonprofit has helped more than 500 students with free ACT Prep program

Posted at 3:21 PM, Sep 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-15 07:22:27-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A local nonprofit organization is offering free American College Testing (ACT) exam strategies to Metro Nashville students.

The nonprofit organization, The Build Up Foundation, provides inner-city youth tutoring, mentoring, and sports in the Middle Tennessee area.

On Saturday, nearly 100 students in various grade levels attended the first of four free ACT sessions at East Park Community Center.

Quanie Clendening founded the nonprofit in 2017 and has offered the course to nearly 500 students. In 2018, of the 65 seniors who took the exam, about 80 percent scored at 21 or higher.

"I got a passion for this because I know how it feels to not know the importance of what it takes to get to college all the time. Your teachers and stuff do great job, the best job that they can with what they have, and we just want to assist Metro Schools and all surrounding counties with the process," Clendening said.

The East Nashville native graduated from Tennessee State University and Trevecca Nazarene University with an undergraduate and masters degree in Business Administration. He said he can relate to many of the students who have signed up for the program.

"I mostly just give my own testimony. I'm a Metro school kid, proud to say that. That's what I come from, public schools all my life. I grew up very, very, poor in the inner-city. By a lot of accounts, many people would say I'm not suppose to be here but I would say different. God has a different plan for us all," he said.

With the assistance of some MNPS teachers and volunteers, students learn test-taking tips in English, reading, and math. Clendening said he is always looking for teachers or qualified volunteers willing to offer their time.

Stratford High School senior Cooper Owen, 17, said he knows how important colleges look at this exam.

"The tutors are good. They really understand the kids at their level and they can really describe it well and they're doing it out of their time for free just out of the love they have for us so I like it," he said.

Trinidy Owens, 17, plans to study Psychology at Middle Tennessee State University.

"It's actually fundamental. I can actually understand and learn quicker because me, I'm not a very easy learner so it's really helpful for me to be able to break down and understand things," Owens said.

For people looking to sign-up for the next ACT Prep course on November 16, click here.