Chamber Members are Committed Advocates for Public Education

As we head into this last week before the holidays, there is still important work to be done.  Tomorrow we will be releasing our annual Education Report Card, which provides an overview of Metro Nashville Public Schools data and makes specific recommendations for improvement.

Year after year, Chamber members name a quality K-12 public education as a high priority. This includes supporting operational and capital funding for Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) as a city budget priority and supporting school reform efforts that improve graduation rates and academic achievement.

A successful school system is central to any community’s prosperity, and over the last 30 years, through the Education Report Card and other investments in MNPS, the Chamber has partnered with its members to become committed advocates for public education.

For example, as a founding partner of the Academies of Nashville, the Chamber ensured that the business community has been deeply engaged in the transformation of our high schools. Today, there are more than 360 business partners providing field trips, job shadow opportunities, internships, and mentoring to Academies students.

To honor and recognize teachers, staff, administrators and business partnerships that support the Academies, we hosted the AON Awards for nearly a decade, and we underwrote the initial cost of administering YouScience, an interest and aptitude assessment to all ninth graders to help them identify their natural talents and guide their Academies selection.

The Chamber is currently working with MNPS to pilot a youth pre-apprenticeship program called Career Launch. Starting in January, 75 students from across the district will be paired with an industry mentor and have additional experiential learning opportunities in their identified pathway, with the goal of a technical certificate one year after graduation.

The first act of the CEO Champions group was to create the Career Exploration Fair – now more than a decade strong and welcoming 7,000 ninth graders every year.

For several years, the Chamber helped underwrite the cost of industry certifications so that all students, regardless of economic status, had access to these exams, and we actively recruit business partners to tutor students as they prepare for industry certification exams, especially those with historically low pass rates.

In 2017, the Lumina Foundation announced the designation of 17 communities across the country as Talent Hubs. The Chamber and Nashville earned this designation by meeting rigorous standards for creating environments that attract, retain, and cultivate talent, especially among today’s students, many of whom are people of color, the first in their families to go to college, and from low-income households.

Alignment Nashville, a non-profit focused on mobilizing strategic partners to challenge and address systemic barriers in MNPS, was incubated through the Chamber.

And on the state level, we worked with the Tennessee Department of Education to write a bill to continue funding Pre-K programs across the state.  We also played a significant role in the creation of a legislative resolution that called on the Department and the State Board of Education to study and report on best practices in finding programs focused on career preparation and early postsecondary opportunities.

Finally, it is notable that our work also expands into the postsecondary space, with more than 6,000 adults supported with college navigation services through the Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community, housed at the Chamber.

In partnership with you, key business leaders in this community, we are proud of the many ways we’ve been able to support public education. As we enter into our P2030 planning period, education will remain a top priority. We look forward to continuing to work with you as we continue to work with the district and policymakers to ensure that every student has the high-quality K-12 education to lead them into postsecondary and a 21st century career.

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