Youth Villages stories

Antioch high school students holding scholarship check

Antioch High School students focus on Thrive for scholarship-awarding research project

Apr 19, 2024 | Blog, Community Engagement

Thrive in Middle Tennessee was selected by the Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce and InfoWorks for a scholarship-awarding research project with Antioch High School students where they aim to solve a “business problem” for a local organization.

“Across all our programs, we value input of those with similar backgrounds and experiences of the people we’re serving,” said Jennifer Cougill Harris, program director at Youth Villages. “So, we were excited to have this opportunity to engage with students and hear their ideas.”

For the project, the Thrive team asked, “How can our specialists make counseling more engaging and entertaining for youth?” Students led focus groups and conducted research, and the Thrive leadership team joined their working sessions once a month to answer questions and provide feedback on their progress.

Thrive is Youth Villages’ newest in-home program for families whose children have started exhibiting risky behaviors that could become more serious like suicidal ideation or self-harm, physical aggression, substance use or involvement in juvenile justice system. By intervening as soon as these behaviors begin, youth are more likely to have positive outcomes and eliminate the need for more intensive services.

“No one understands the way a teenager thinks better than another teenager,” said Mary Fuchs, clinical supervisor for Thrive.

Our team does a great job relating to the youth they serve, but we are always open to ways we can even more effectively connect with them.

- Mary Fuchs

Some of the students’ findings affirmed Thrive’s approach, like taking time to get to know youth at a surface level before diving into anything deep and scheduling sessions around activities to ensure they don’t miss out. Another finding specialists are going to implement is communicating more via text, as young people are much less likely to answer a phone call. Interestingly, most students who participated in the survey did not see a stigma around a mental health diagnosis but said it would motivate them to be more invested in a treatment plan.

“As the students presented, it was clear they were proud of the work they put into the project, and they really believed in the ideas they were sharing,” Mary added.

Each participant earned a $500 scholarship toward higher education. One has goals to be a teacher, another a cardiologist, with others still deciding.


Support programs in Middle Tennessee that help children and families in your community. To learn more about Thrive click here.

Share on Social