An Update on the New Skills Ready Grant

In October 2020, JP Morgan Chase announced a five-year, $7 million investment in the Nashville community. New Skills Ready grant will support the seamless transition of underrepresented students from high school into postsecondary programs to earn a credential or degree and enter a high-wage, high-demand career. The initiative will first focus on four MNPS high schools - Whites Creek, Pearl-Cohn, Maplewood, Overton - each with high concentrations of students of color, new Americans, and students who are economically disadvantaged.

The four priority areas for the grant include:

  1. The alignment and rigor of career pathways that lead to credentials with labor market value
  2. Building and scaling real-world work experiences
  3. Building seamless transitions to support postsecondary success.
  4. Closing equity gaps to ensure equitable participation and achievement in high-quality pathways that lead to high-demand, high-wage careers.

In five years, the goals of the grant include:

  • Increases in student access to and success in high-value early college credit and credential opportunities.
  • Strong partnerships between secondary and postsecondary institutions to facilitate successful student transitions.
  • Increases in the number of students who complete postsecondary education and successfully transition into the labor market with high-value skills and credentials.
  • Building new talent pipelines by increasing high-quality work-based learning opportunities connecting students with employers.
  • Strengthening and/or the development of new high-growth, high- wage career pathways from secondary to postsecondary to employer.

The lead team for the grant includes Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville State Community College, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Tennessee Board of Regents, the Scarlett Family Foundation, Tennessee College Access and Success Network, and the Office of Mayor Cooper. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce serves as the site lead for New Skills Ready -Nashville.

Over the first several months of the grant, the lead team has made steady progress in fulfilling its year one action plan. Early wins include:

  • A survey developed and released for MNPS students and parents and NSCC students, with a survey for secondary and postsecondary educators anticipated in the next few weeks.
  • Three racial equity trainings for nearly 300 stakeholders and two more trainings planned in March and May for an additional 200 people.
  • Initial conversations with state and local agencies to begin mapping the work-based learning ecosystem.
  • Interviews with college access and success programs to understand their models for college advising to develop a new student guidance framework.
  • Hiring a Ready Graduate analyst and a New Skills Ready project manager for MNPS
  • Building base-line data to evaluate current pathways, alignment to the regional economy and disaggregated data on student success

For questions related to the New Skills Ready grant, contact Nancy Eisenbrandt (

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