All eyes remain on Tennessee because of its free community college program, called Tennessee Promise. So far the retention statistics are promising, as reported by Emily Siner for Nashville Public Radio:
Just over 78 percent of the first class of Tennessee Promise students at community colleges stayed in the program for a second semester. It's unclear how many of those students dropped out of college entirely and how many just failed to meet a Tennessee Promise-specific requirement, like completing eight hours of community service.
That's about the same retention rate as first-time freshmen the previous year, before the program began — which isn't a bad thing, says Emily House, director of research at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. She points out that Tennessee Promise helped bring in thousands more freshmen than usual.
In other words, more students are advancing, and that's good. The state is actively involved in using mentors, who meet with high school seniors and keep up with their progress afterward in college. The mentors discuss goal-setting as well as keeping tabs on how the students are doing.
A key dilemma with mentoring is dealing with scarce resources. In Tennessee, according to the piece, community volunteers and organizations are used. Each mentor is assigned a "handful" of students. Apparently it's not necessary for each mentor to be academically trained in any particular discipline. Much of their work is in providing human contact and interest. So presumably if you haven't found "X" in an algebraic equation—much less "Y"—in many years, there is no reason this should impede you or others in your community from mentoring math students under the Tennessee model.
A lot of students need frequent reminders of deadlines, knowledge of places to go for academic tutoring, help in using library resources, and in contacting other students in the same situation. Student "engagement" is an important factor in retention, according to many studies.
It might be a good idea for mentors to be fluent in using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.