The CEO Champions is a Chamber committee of community leaders who meet quarterly to review the progress of all the district’s academies. As their name implies, they serve as advocates for the reform by participating in academy-related events, press conferences and authoring opinion pieces in the news media. The CEO Champions role also includes ensuring that the academies are adequately resourced and that successful reform efforts continue across transitions in school district and city leadership.
"My Future My Way" Career Exploration Fair
The Chamber works with Metro Schools to stage the "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair for the district’s ninth-grade students. Over 300 business volunteers from a wide range of industries and careers spend the day downtown at the Music City Center interacting with the city’s 7,000 public school freshmen. The goals of the fair are to help the students understand their career interests, which career or thematic academy they may want to choose for 10th-12th grade, and the postsecondary requirements associated with that career. In addition to the considerable volunteer and in-kind support that makes this event possible, the Chamber’s partnership with Shoney’s Restaurants ensures that this opportunity is provided to students at minimal cost to the district.
Metro Schools wants each of its graduates to leave high school with college credit or an industry-recognized professional certification (or both), but many students struggle to pay the exam fee for professional certifications. Since 2014 the Chamber has funded most of the cost of 21 different professional certification exams from a wide range of industries. 101 students passed a professional certification exam in 2014, and that number has grown to 140 in 2015.
Beginning in 2010, the Chamber worked with Metro Schools to design a form of professional development for educators called teacher externships. The Chamber, through a partnership with the Memorial Foundation, provided stipends to academy teams of teachers (math, English, science, social studies, and CTE/thematic) to spend 3-4 days shadowing a business partner during the summer, discovering how their academic standards are applied in “the real world.” On the last day of the externship the academy team develops an interdisciplinary student project based on their experience that will be implemented during the next school year. From 2010 through the summer of 2014, 92 academy teams have participated in a teacher externship, impacting more than 500 educators. As of the summer of 2014, most teacher externships are now funded through the school district’s professional development budget.
The Education Committee is comprised of Chamber members who explore the latest policy issues in K-12 education, often helping to advocate for the Chamber’s positions. The committee also tracks implementation of the recommendations from each year’s Education Report Card (published in December).
Quality Early Childhood Education
The Nashville Chamber has supported the expansion of high-quality pre-kindergarten opportunities for four-year old children since the 1990s, recognizing the importance of ensuring our community’s most at-risk children begin school ready to learn. The Chamber’s five-year, Partnership 2020 economic development plan for the region that runs from July 2016 through June 2021 calls for the expansion of quality pre-kindergarten opportunities throughout the Nashville region. During the 2016 legislative session, the Nashville Chamber worked to pass state legislation to strengthen Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K program. SB1899/HB1485 requires school districts with pre-K grants to develop plans for early childhood professional development and coordination of their pre-K program with their early elementary grade instruction.
The Nashville Area Chamber established an independent political action committee, SuccessPAC, in 1998 to focus solely on electing the best possible candidates to the nine-member Metropolitan Board of Public Education. Because school board members serve staggered four-year terms, elections are held every two years. The SuccessPAC board seeks to interview all school board candidates in order to identify and endorse candidates who understand the role of a policy-making board and are focused on the successful academic achievement of all children.
All candidates endorsed by SuccessPAC submit a completed questionnaire and participate in an interview.
Leadership Study Mission
Leadership Study Mission is the Chamber’s annual visit to a peer region, in which more than 100 business and community leaders explore new ideas and best practices, with the intention to return home and effect change.
Among the successes that have been attributed to these visits:
- The launch of Moving Forward – a regional transit solution
- Creation of a 10-county Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee
- Creation of a 10-county Mayors' Caucus
- Creation of the Nashville Downtown Partnership and central business improvement district (CBID)
- Creation of downtown bicycle and horse patrols
- Early awareness and support for:
- Music City Center
- Schermerhorn Symphony Center
- Nissan Stadium
- Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods
- Bridgestone Arena
- Nashville's downtown and satellite library buildings
- Nashville’s greenways plan
- Nashville’s poverty initiative