Our History

Students Taking A Right Stand (STARS) was founded in 1984 as a program of Center for Youth Issues. The tremendous vision and commitment of Ambassador Joe M. Rodgers and other key community, school, and civic leaders to help students refrain from the use of alcohol and drugs began at one school site. A professionally-trained STARS Specialist worked with students in their school to give them the assistance and support they needed to make healthy lifestyle choices. Hundreds of personal commitments were made to remain alcohol- and drug-free. Trusted community leaders who would provide strategic guidance formed the first Board of Directors.

Twenty-seven years later, many of those same committed Board members remain actively involved in the leadership of our organization, now named STARS Nashville. In eight Middle Tennessee counties, in over 160 school and community sites, and with a staff of over 50, the STARS Board of Directors and staff remain committed and responsive to the needs of students and families in Middle Tennessee and throughout the country.

Our History By Year:



In September 2006, KIDS ON THE BLOCK, the nationally known puppet program, successfully merged with STARS.  By combining the level of services offered by KIDS ON THE BLOCK with the Student Assistance Program, STARS is now able to reach Middle Tennessee students from grades Kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.

We love, love, love the puppets!! September was a busy month for us at STARS in 2006.  The Alcohol & Drug Council of Middle Tenessee’s Youth, Alive and Free program (previously named Community Enhancement, founded in 1983) merged with STARS, as well.

Hazelden Publishing, the leading publisher of evidence-based programs and curricula for youth substance use prevention and violence prevention, and STARS formalized a strategic partnership.  Through this unique partnership, STARS will be Tennessee’s “go-to” resource for Hazelden’s best-selling and award-winning prevention programs. The most researched and best-known anti-bullying program designed for Grades 1-8 is The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Another popular prevention curriculum for Grades 6-12 is Safe Dates.

For more inforamtion, please visit our Bookstore!

Youth Opportunity Center’s Grand Opening:  STARS and Oasis Center had a shared dream which was born in 2006.  The dream was simple and straightforward: bring a handful of organizations together to share space and integrate services believing the synergy created will begin to close the opportunitygap that exists for youth in the Middle Tennessee community.

The Youth Opportunity Center was awarded the Center of Nonprofit Management’s Frist Foundation’s INNOVATION IN ACTION Award for our vision and committment to young people. Today, the Youth Opportunity Center is home to representative from 8 non-profit organizations that are deeply committed to working together to ensure all young people can easily access the basics they need to thrive: caring adults; safe places; good health care; an effective education; and opportunities to help others.

Please stop by and have a tour of the revolutionary space and partnership!  To schedule a visit, please contact Erin Daunic, edaunic@starsnashville.org, or 615-983-6805.

In June of 2011, STARS adopted three programs of the former Alcohol & Drug Council of Middle Tennessee.  These programs are: Youth Overcoming Drug Abuse (YODA), Deaf & Hard of Hearing Program and Recovery Support Services.

The strategic adoption of these programs ensures that services so critical to the prevention and intervention of substance abuse will continue in our community.

In 2012, STARS was listed on the SAMHSA’S National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

STARS was named one of the top 50 places to work in Tennessee.

For the second year in a row, STARS was named one of the top 50 places to work in Tennessee and was awarded “Most Meaningful” place to work.

STARS welcomes and will serve individuals with both mental health and substance use disorders. We believe that every door is the right door to gain access to appropriate services in the integrated system of care.

STARS does not discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, creed, color, sex or national origin. No one shall be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any of STARS programs or activities. STARS is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
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