Thursday, community leaders, volunteers, and elected officials joined Chattanooga 2.0 for a virtual event to release their 2021 Report to the Community and celebrate the last five years of Chattanooga-Hamilton County’s progress towards improving birth-to-career education and workforce development outcomes.
Chattanooga 2.0 partners have been at the forefront of many noteworthy cradle-to-career efforts during the past five years, most recently serving as the foundation for the county’s response to the impacts of COVID-19 on children and students. The 2021 report details these big wins along with the current challenges and opportunities that lie ahead early childhood through postsecondary education.
During Thursday’s event, Executive Director Molly Blankenship renewed Chattanooga 2.0’s commitment to advancing equity and opportunity in Chattanooga-Hamilton County, outlining updated goals and strategies for the next decade of collaborative work. These new goals include achieving the following by 2030:
- 80% of children arrive at kindergarten with the skills needed to be successful in school
- 80% of Hamilton County Schools students are proficient in reading by third grade
- 80% of students graduate on time from Hamilton County Schools prepared for college and career
- 80% of graduates from Hamilton County Schools obtain a postsecondary degree or credential of value within six years
- Double the number of young adults aged 18-25 who obtain meaningful, self-sustaining careers and successfully transition to the workforce
During the event, executive director Molly Blankenship said, “Are these goals bold? Yes. Are they attainable? Yes. For this community who knows how to work together and come together to solve tough problems, we can do this.” Later in the event, Blankenship stated “We will build systems that meet every child where they are, both in and out of school – we’re relentlessly committed to that.”
Multiple student performances were woven throughout the event. Chattanooga State Community College student Sydney Nielsen kicked off the event by reading a poem entitled “The Proof of Worth”, Center for Creative Arts student Kaylyn Yancey sang the national anthem, and a unique pre-recorded performance by Sale Creek Middle High Band was played. Later in the event, Assistant Principal Arielle Hayes of East Hamilton Middle moderated a student panel discussion and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson, both chairs of the Hamilton County Children’s Cabinet, were on hand to recognize the work of Chattanooga 2.0 and its partners.
Dr. JaNay Queen Nazaire, Chief Strategy Officer for Living Cities, delivered an inspiring keynote address, providing coalition members with tools and wisdom from her nationwide collaborative work to close racial gaps and grow economic security. She called on community members to think collaboratively and creatively to solve big problems, with the courage to take risks and the discipline to remain committed.
“It’s okay if we fail, as long as we are failing forward – because then we know what doesn’t work and can move on to try something else,” Dr. Nazaire said in her address to Thursday’s attendees. “It’s finding the discipline and courage to keep taking those risks.”
Find more information on the strategic planning process, 2030 goals, and supporting strategies, along with Chattanooga 2.0’s vision, mission, and racial equity statements, in Forward Together 2021 Report to the Community, now available at chatt2.org/report.