Martha O’Bryan Center To Open Academic Student Union at Hunters Lane High School

Nashville, TN – Having completed a six-month selection process with multiple area high schools, Martha O’Bryan Center has chosen Hunters Lane High School as the location for its next Academic Student Union –a program that has shown strong results already at Stratford and Maplewood High Schools. 

Designed like a college student union, but for teenagers, Academic Student Unions (ASUs) create a one-stop-shop for high school students to receive academic, social and emotional, work and career, and college prep assistance. Martha O’Bryan Center is a social change nonprofit operating community centers and schools in Nashville.

With seed funding secured from a Nashville foundation for the initial three years of the new site, Martha O’Bryan Center and Hunters Lane will open the new Academic Student Union in August, 2019.

“We are thrilled to welcome Martha O’Bryan Center into the day-to-day work at Hunters Lane.” Hunters Lane Principal Dr. Susan Kessler also noted the cultural alignment between the two organizations. “Like Martha O’Bryan Center, at Hunters Lane we take a holistic approach to serving the whole student and the whole family as a true community school.”

Martha O’Bryan Center’s first ASU opened at Stratford High School in 2010, called the Top Floor. At the time, Stratford had the district’s lowest college-going rate in the city.  Since opening the Top Floor ASU, Stratford’s college enrollment rate has increased from 30.4% to 59.6%.  Since Martha O’Bryan opened the same model at Maplewood in 2014 (where the ASU is called College Zone), Maplewood’s college-going rate increased from 37.2% to 50.2%. 

What makes the ASU model successful?  Despite only 12% of high schoolers in the country taking part in afterschool programming, Martha O’Bryan Center’s ASUs draw participation from the majority of students in the schools where they serve by allowing students voice and choice to drive the experience. “We allow students to come whenever they want and take part in whatever offerings meet their needs.” Kent Miller, Chief Program Officer at Martha O’Bryan Center, launched the ASU model at Stratford. “This can look like many different things depending on the student –help finding a job, academic tutoring, joining a club, getting help with financial aid for college, or meeting with one of our counselors to talk about relationships.”

Independent research studies from the National College Access Network as well as Lipscomb University have found that the ASU model has resulted in dramatically higher rates of on time graduation as well as enrollment in a post-high school courses of study, like college or trade programs.

3,570 students have participated in the Academic Student Unions since 2010. ASU students have received over $62.3 million in grants & scholarships. Hunters Lane will be the largest high school for Martha O’Bryan Center’s ASU model to date, and will consist of five full time staff and two part time staff.

Media inquiries can be directed to Peter Martino at Martha O’Bryan Center:, (615) 760-4030.


Martha O'Bryan Center is an anti-poverty non-profit organization with longstanding history and deep community roots, grounded in tradition and strengthened by innovation. Founded in 1894 when Miss O'Bryan organized the Gleaners Society at First Presbyterian Church to support impoverished North Nashville residents, Martha O'Bryan Center has operated from the heart of Cayce Place - Nashville's most distressed community - since 1948. This is where we continue in service, partnering with Cayce Place families to open doors of hope and possibility, create a culture of attainment, and positively shape future generations. Martha O’Bryan Center serves 10,000 people annually with its programs in early learning, parent empowerment, youth development, adult education, crisis counseling and public charter schools East End Prep and Explore! Community School.

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