Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Chattanooga 2.0?

A: Chattanooga 2.0 is a community-wide education initiative focused on cradle through career talent development in Hamilton County. When we are successful in supporting and developing local talent pipelines, we will enable employers to spend more time selecting qualified talent, verses searching for it.

These two points summarize the intent of the movement:
1. A community-wide initiative to improve academic excellence and career credentials in Hamilton County;

2. An opportunity to improve the quality of life of all future graduates by connecting them to jobs that pay a living wage.

Q: Who are the principals behind 2.0?

A: The Benwood Foundation, Public Education Foundation, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hamilton County Department of Education. Jared Bigham, an elementary and high school teacher and principal in Southeast Tennessee and a statewide advocate for public education, is the Executive Director of 2.0.

Q: How do I get involved?

A: Visit to see all the ways you can get involved as an educator, parent, business, or faith-based organization.

Q: How do I receive more information?

A: Sign up on our website to receive the full Chattanooga 2.0 report and updates. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Q: How did 2.0 start?

A: 2.0 started with a group of education, business, and community leaders who joined together to release a report summarizing workforce challenges along with significant educational opportunities for Hamilton County and the region. Led by the Benwood Foundation, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hamilton County Department of Education, and the Public Education Foundation (PEF), this joint effort was started in 2015 to gauge the interest in and support for a comprehensive, long-term approach to achieving academic excellence for all students in Hamilton County and to provide an educated workforce to fill the growing job opportunities in our region. After the initial report was published and feedback was gathered during our 100 Days of Community Engagement, we set forth on a plan to ensure that 75 percent of all Hamilton County high school graduates successfully obtain a college degree or technical certification by the year 2025. The plan included 10 Urgent Strategies to help us achieve our two bold goals. 7 volunteer action teams comprised of leaders from across the community were formed, and the strategic work has been ongoing ever since.

Q: I have heard about the challenges facing our public schools. Can you share more information on why 2.0 is necessary now?

A: We know we also need to keep our eye on the teaching and learning that is taking place -- and creating the opportunities to help all students succeed in the future – no matter where they live in our community.

These high level data points that are in the 2.0 report:
• There is an economic imperative with the current available jobs and projected job opportunities.
• Even though we have unprecedented job growth, 83 percent of jobs making a livable wage in Hamilton County require a postsecondary credential. Right now about 40 percent have a post-secondary credential
• The trend in our K-12 system shows some definite challenges. We are performing below the state average in 9 out of 10 academic areas, and the trend line is going in the wrong direction
• Access is an issue for certain student demographics. An African-American student is 33 times more likely to attend one of the lowest performing schools in the state within HCDE, while a white student has less than 1 percent chance of attending one of these schools.
• Only 43 percent of our 3-4 year olds are attending some form of an early childhood program. As a direct result, only 4 out of 10 students are considered on target for being ready to learn when they get to Kindergarten. National statistics show that even if students are living in poverty, 89 percent will graduate on time if they are reading on level by 3rd grade.

Q: We have seen these efforts in the past. Why is 2.0 different?

A: Commitment. And commitment and collaboration by a vast array of local organizations. It’s not an issue of geography or ability. It’s an issue of support and expectation. Some of our local data is sobering, but national statistics show that, of students in poverty who are on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, 90 percent will graduate on time.
• We know first-hand what can be done when a community comes together to lead.
• We have already begun to successfully break down silos via our action teams. Organizations are coming together to create solutions to education challenges like never before in our county.

Q: What are the goals of 2.0?

1) Double the percentage of graduates from Hamilton County public schools that obtain a postsecondary degree or credential, from 30% to 60% by 2025.

2) Increase the overall percentage of adults in Hamilton County with a college degree or technical training certificate from 38% to 75% by 2025. This means in 10 years, three of four of Hamilton County residents will graduate with a certificate, two-year degree, or four-year degree.

Q: Are there activities underway that point toward success?

• There are great teaching and leadership in many schools: For example, the STEM school is recognized across the state for its innovative practices; East Side Elementary has been a Reward School two years in a row despite the demographics changing to majority English Language Learning students.
• Chattanooga State is playing an active role in helping students get industry certifications during high school; the MEP program and Mayor Coppinger’s Pathways to Prosperity program are examples of industry and postsecondary working together.
• UTC first-year retention rates and overall graduation rates are increasing, with significant increases among African-American students.
• Mayor Berke and the city, Mayor Coppinger and the county, as well as BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, are champions for a new internship program, Step-Up Chattanooga, created by PEF and the Chamber of Commerce that will place 100 juniors and seniors in paid workforce positions this summer.
• The Urban League has been convening the faith-based community to discuss ways our congregations can support students, especially in the area of early childhood.

Q: Why will 2.0 make a difference?

A: Now is the time to invest in our people – with education and training – to ensure greater equity and opportunity for all – in every neighborhood and every family – as we build a bridge to the jobs of the future in Hamilton County.
A great city and an engaged community provide a quality education and a sustainable economic future for all residents. To achieve these goals, our community is coming together on a commitment for the future. The jobs are here and more will come. Over 83 percent of the jobs will pay at least $35,000 per year and require education past high school.