Chattanooga 2.0: Advancing Equity and Opportunity in Hamilton County

A By All Means and Success Planning Community

EdRedesign has supported Chattanooga throughout its journey to realize its vision of a thriving and inclusive economy, where social and economic mobility is achievable because children, students, and families are equipped with the opportunities, resources, and supports needed to reach their full potential, cradle to career.

A 2015 report “A Bold Vision for Our Future Workforce,” commissioned by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Benwood Foundation, Public Education Foundation, and the Hamilton County Department of Education, highlighted Chattanooga’s bustling downtown, revitalized neighborhoods, world-class waterfront and public spaces, and gigabit internet infrastructure—hallmarks of a thriving community. New jobs in advanced industries were coming to Hamilton County (Tennessee’s fourth largest county and home of its fourth largest city, Chattanooga), yet the report sounded the alarm that the majority of county residents did not have sufficient education to fill those jobs. Chattanooga’s vast economic potential was in jeopardy due to a shortage of local skilled workers, with only 35% of students in the county likely to obtain the required level of education. The report outlined a bold vision for the future to ensure 75 percent of Hamilton County residents earn a postsecondary certification despite sobering statistics—from high poverty rates among students and limited access to early childhood education to low reading and math scores and low rates of postsecondary attainment.

In 2016, Chattanooga 2.0, the cradle-to-career collaborative action backbone organization in Chattanooga-Hamilton County launched with a mission to create proof points and drive collaboration, measurement, and alignment of policy and practice to ensure all children and youth receive a quality education and career opportunities that help them realize their full potential. With input from over 3,700 community members, Chattanooga 2.0 put a strategic plan in place, and cross-sector action teams were formed to implement strategies from cradle to career.

Building on the work of Chattanooga 2.0, in 2019, Hamilton County and Hamilton County Schools launched their Children’s Cabinet comprised of county, city, and community-based organization leaders to better coordinate services and resources to support children in the community. Chattanooga also joined EdRedesign’s By All Means community of practice. Chattanooga 2.0 facilitates Children’s Cabinet meetings and manages data sharing.

Chattanooga Paul Pic
Image courtesy of Chattanooga 2.0.

The initial Children’s Cabinet efforts included a Student Success Planning pilot to create personalized systems of support in schools. The pilot was launched in the 2019-2020 school year with the goal of expanding to all district schools.

The district has expanded from initially serving students at eight district schools to serving over half their schools (44 schools) and almost 20,000 students with Individual Student Success Plans (ISSPs) during the 2022-23 school year. They expect to start serving nearly 100% of the district’s 82 schools in the 2023-24 school year. Their Student Success Planning strategy is fueling their cradle-to-career focus areas—kindergarten readiness, literacy and math success, college and career readiness, postsecondary attainment, and a thriving wage for young adults.

Chattanooga joined EdRedesign’s Institute for Success Planning learning community and is a member of our Success Planning Community of Practice (2022 and 2023 cohorts).

Image courtesy of Chattanooga 2.0
Image courtesy of Chattanooga 2.0.

The Executive Director of Chattanooga 2.0, Dr. Keri Randolph (Ed.L.D.'20), an alumna of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Doctor of Education Leadership program, has had a longstanding relationship with EdRedesign, beginning as a research assistant while a doctoral student and serving as Chattanooga’s By All Means community liaison and consultant. Under her leadership, and with cross-sector support from the community, Chattanooga 2.0 has set ambitious 2030 community goals—80% kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading proficiency, college and career ready graduates, and post-secondary attainment within six years and doubling the percentage of young adults earning a thriving wage.

See EdRedesign’s Chattanooga Children’s Cabinet video and case.