On December 14, 1998, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) established the Tapping Individual Potential (TIP) program, a scholarship initiative designed to nurture the extraordinary talents of rising fifth through eighth-grade Metro Nashville Public School students.

These students, often limited by financial or other circumstances, have found opportunities to explore their skills thanks to the visionary efforts of Mr. Charles Frazier, the program’s founder.

The TIP program operates by identifying students through teachers, guidance counselors, or principals, who then assist them in submitting an application to CFMT for consideration. Once evaluated, the TIP program provides funding for various enrichment opportunities. These opportunities range from singing or music lessons to space camp visits, drama classes, or art courses, opening doors to endless possibilities.

Over the past 25 years, the TIP program has awarded 1,262 scholarships, totaling $628,961.78. These scholarships have been made possible by the generosity of over 200 donors who have contributed $892,997 since the program’s inception. The students have had the chance to participate in programs at institutions like Allegro School of Music, Adventure Science Center, Blair School of Music, Frist Museum of Art, Global Education Center, Mathnasium, Mundito Spanish, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Zoo, US Space and Rocket Center-Space Camp, and the Vanderbilt University Program for Talented Youth.

“Mr. Frazier believed in an excellent education for all children and he had a vision to create opportunities to learn and develop their potential regardless of financial limitations or background,” said Pat Cole, former long-time CFMT Scholarship Coordinator.  “He participated in the Tapping Individual Potential  program until 2021. He was a strong advocate for public education and a champion for all students regardless of their abilities or circumstances.”

Watch former TIP recipients, Jeremyck and Justin Smith, discuss how a TIP scholarship advanced their education and music career.

Charles Frazier - TIP Scholarship Program Founder

Charles Oliver Frazier, known as “Charlie” or “Charles O” to his friends and family, passed away peacefully on April 20, 2024, at the age of 94. Charles dedicated 38 years to the Metro Nashville Public School System, serving in various roles, including Director. During his tenure, he established several innovative programs to meet the diverse needs of all students, regardless of race, economic background, or intellectual ability. His commitment to diversity and public education earned him praise from leaders like then-Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander, who described him as a “first-class educator.”

Born in Jefferson City, Charles was one of three brothers. He completed his undergraduate studies at Carson-Newman College and later earned a master’s degree and honorary doctorate. Charles met his beloved wife, Barbara Ann Coling, when he was an assistant principal, and she was a young and innovative teacher. They shared 57 years of marriage, a deep commitment to education, and a love for their son, Brian Kent Frazier, who also achieved remarkable academic and professional success.

Even after his retirement in 1992, Charles remained engaged in the community, supporting the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Nashville Zoo, the Rotary Club, and the Tennessee Central Railway Museum. He enjoyed reading, music, and spending time with friends and family. Known for his dapper appearance, he was often seen around town in suspenders and a jaunty cap.

Charles’s legacy is one of unwavering dedication to education and community. His impact on the lives of countless students through the TIP program will continue to be felt for generations. As we remember Charles Frazier, we celebrate a life well-lived and a legacy that embodies the spirit of giving and the power of education.

Those who knew and loved Charles will miss his warmth, wit, sparkling blue eyes, bright smile, and warm hugs. He leaves behind his wife, Barbara, his nephew Miles Frazier, and many friends who will forever cherish his memory. Charles’s enduring influence on public education and the students of Nashville is a testament to his life’s work and the transformative power of the TIP program.

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