Founder Dr. Michael Spalding with ECE's first student Melissa and her mother.

Our History


Equal Chance for Education was founded on January 15, 2014 as a Tennessee Nonprofit organization by Michael Spalding M. D. after he saw a personal friend denied the opportunity for higher education because of her legal status. Melissa has lived in Nashville since she was 3 months old and successfully completed high school with outstanding academic records. After talking with her family about her situation, Dr. Spalding went to Nashville State, the local community college, to offer to pay for her first-year tuition. Upon telling the admissions counselor her name the tuition immediately jumped from $7000 for 2 years to $ 28,000. Upon researching further, Dr. Spalding realized that Melissa didn't qualify for any sort of financial aid or student loans. She was denied in-state tuition to Tennessee universities and colleges even though Tennessee is the only home she has ever known.

Equal Chance for Education has supported 386 Tennessee students at 15 colleges and universities. In the fall of 2021, 97 new students will join as freshmen. The Alumni Association now includes 131 graduates who are improving our communities through their contributions as young leaders. 


By providing access to a college education without regard to race, religion or nation of birth, ECE is changing the lives of Tennessee families while helping meet the goals of the Governor’s Drive to 55 initiative. As a scholarship program for DREAMers, ECE provides not only tuition but also career mentors and legal support, to help navigate non-academic challenges that can distract from school work. ECE students have a collective 3.4 GPA and a 98% retention rate. ECE's alumni have started their careers in business, nursing, education, social work, as accountants, engineers, programmers, and pursuing graduate degrees in business, law, medicine, and engineering. 

ECE believes that every Tennessee student deserves an equal chance to go to college- no matter where they were born.