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The Tennessee Department of Education announced today 21 school districts, including Cumberland County, have 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 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.

Three of the grants awarded include:

Cumberland County Schools: Cumberland County Schools will partner with Azure Flight Support to assist with the development of a training curriculum and provide expertise to train simulator instructors in flight.

Oak Ridge City Schools: Oak Ridge will be creating i-School, an integrative ecosystem learning model, that includes a school-based enterprise, solving real-world problems with iterative models, and design thinking and will collaborate with Roane State Community College, The University of Tennessee, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (ORNL MDF).

Bradley County Schools: PIE Innovation Center will create an innovative student experience through collaboration with business, industry, and nonprofit organizations changing learning pathways, providing experiential learning in STEM, embedded work-based learning experiences, and the promotion of design thinking.

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

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