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Innovative High School Grant
Innovative High School Grant
Posted on 05/21/2021
Innovative High School Grant

State Makes $30M Investment to Reimagine High Schools & Boost Postsecondary Success

In May, the Tennessee Department of Education announced 21 school districts had been awarded grants for the new Innovative High School Models program, intended to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness and prepare high schoolers for jobs and careers in their local communities.

The new Tennessee High School Viking Career Center, an off-site innovative alternate learning program, will provide personalized educational and work-based learning options for students who choose an alternative pathway.

The goal of the Innovative High School Models program is to encourage strong, strategic and innovative partnerships between Tennessee public school districts, postsecondary education institutions and local employers to reimagine how to prepare students for success after high school.

“Tennessee is investing $30 million to encourage school districts to reimagine the possible and create innovative, high-impact high school experiences for all students by developing strategic partnerships with business and industry in their local community,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Building upon our state's history of strong public-private partnerships, the Innovative High Schools Models program will provide more opportunities for students to explore and succeed in high-demand careers, for industry to develop local talent, and for schools to creatively meet the needs of their community.” 

In total, $30 million in grant funding was awarded through a competitive application process, with individual grant awards from $750,000 to $2 million, to establish strategic partnerships that accelerate and increase student attainment of high-quality, in-demand postsecondary credentials.

The grant awardees were selected based off their commitment to rethink and revision high school educational models – from the use of time and space, entrance requirements, instructional practices and modes of learning, scheduling and mentorship and training opportunities available to students – to provide new and additional pathways for students to be prepared for postsecondary success.

“These Innovative High School Models are another important step in connecting education to work,” said Commissioner Jeff McCord, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “It’s initiatives like these that help increase the prosperity of young people and the communities in which they live.”

This program will also help reinforce the work of the Tennessee Pathways model, which supports alignment among K-12, postsecondary, and industry partners to provide students with relevant education and training to jumpstart their postsecondary degrees and credentials. “The Innovative High School Models Grant initiative provides school systems with the opportunity to rethink their traditional approaches to education and provide students with increased opportunities to achieve postsecondary credentials and workplace skills,” said Brandon Hudson, Senior Director of Workforce and Economic Development for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “It is exciting to know that school districts now have the opportunity to meet students’ needs through innovative and non-traditional means. No longer will time and space be a barrier for students in reaching all their postsecondary and career-ready goals. Through increased partnerships and innovative modes of learning, these districts can now put all students, especially those often underserved in the traditional approach to education, on a pathway to success.”

This grant program is funded with federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funding. 

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