Statewide Initiatives

Conex­ión Améri­c­as, the orga­ni­za­tion lead­ing the Ten­nessee Edu­ca­tion­al Equi­ty Coali­tion, offers fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to pro­mote edu­ca­tion­al equi­ty and excel­lence in Ten­nessee. The­se grants are designed to advance the capac­i­ty of part­ner orga­ni­za­tions across the state to become lead­ing voic­es in edu­ca­tion advo­ca­cy efforts, espe­cial­ly on behalf of com­mu­ni­ties and stu­dents of col­or.

Congratulations, 2017 Grant Recipients

Conex­ión Améri­c­as fund­ed six statewide ini­tia­tives in 2017–2018. Our grant recip­i­ents are pio­neers, bold­ly test­ing new ideas, part­ner­ing with oth­ers, and rais­ing their col­lec­tive voic­es to ensure all chil­dren in Ten­nessee are afford­ed a world-class edu­ca­tion.

Trailblazer Coalition

Loca­tion: Mid­dle Ten­nessee
Pri­or­i­ty: Excel­lent Teach­ers and Lead­ers for Every Child
Top­ic: Increas­ing recruit­ment and reten­tion of can­di­dates of col­or in edu­ca­tor prepa­ra­tion pro­grams
Sum­ma­ry: The Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion (TC) received fund­ing in the 2016–2017 sub grant fund­ing cycle. Dur­ing the first year, TC con­vened rep­re­sen­ta­tives of dif­fer­ent tra­di­tion­al and non-tra­di­tion­al Edu­ca­tor Prepa­ra­tion Pro­grams (EPPs) with the goal of con­duct­ing inter­nal analy­sis around their own prac­tices around recruit­ing and retain­ing can­di­dates of col­or. With con­tin­ued grant fund­ing, TC plans to sup­port EPPs to imple­ment their Diver­si­ty Action Plans, fur­ther their research on local teacher diver­si­ty needs and to spread aware­ness about those needs. They will also con­vene part­ners to col­lec­tive­ly dis­cuss tack­ling sys­temic bar­ri­ers, and advo­cate to address iden­ti­fied bar­ri­ers via their out­lined pol­i­cy agen­da.
Intend­ed Pol­i­cy Impact: MNPS cre­ation of affin­i­ty group for teach­ers of col­or, spe­cial­ized sup­port for prin­ci­pals on hir­ing and sup­port­ing staff of col­or; State cre­ation of 7–10 math licen­sure; sup­port Mayor’s office’s ini­tia­tive to provide afford­able hous­ing for teach­ers; State expan­sion of Minor­i­ty for Minor­i­ty Teacher Fel­low­ship to include stu­dents of Mid­dle East­ern and North African orig­in.

Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance

Loca­tion: Mid­dle Ten­nessee
Pri­or­i­ty: Excel­lent Teach­ers and Lead­ers for Every Child
Top­ic: Teach­ers of col­or in Ten­nessee shap­ing edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy, ampli­fy­ing their voic­es and advo­cat­ing for their pro­fes­sion­al needs, and on behalf of their com­mu­ni­ties.
Sum­ma­ry: The goal of the Ten­nessee Edu­ca­tors of Col­or Alliance (TECA) is to provide a plat­form for teach­ers of col­or to advo­cate for them­selves and their com­mu­ni­ties, increase the num­ber of peo­ple of col­or involved in con­ver­sa­tions about edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy, and equip edu­ca­tors with advo­ca­cy train­ing and tools. TECA will host a Teach­ers of Col­or Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence meant to provide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for edu­ca­tors to dis­cuss cur­rent issues, present rel­e­vant advo­ca­cy work, receive pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, and dri­ve TECA’s pol­i­cy agen­da. TECA plans to expand to East and West Ten­nessee with­in three years.
Intend­ed Pol­i­cy Impact: Devel­op a cadre of teacher lead­ers well versed in edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy and equipped with advo­ca­cy tools to dri­ve an edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy agen­da that reflects input from teach­ers of col­or.

Oasis Center, MNPS Department of Family and Community Engagement and PASSAGE

Loca­tion: Mid­dle Tennessee/Nashville
Pri­or­i­ty: Appro­pri­ate and Equi­table Resources and Sup­ports
Top­ic: Teacher and stu­dent voice on reduc­ing dis­ci­pline dis­par­i­ties
Sum­ma­ry: The fund­ing for the Oasis Cen­ter, MNPS, and PASSAGE builds on the pre­vi­ous grant cycle of work that focused on edu­cat­ing cur­rent MNPS teach­ers on cul­tur­al com­pe­ten­cy, and implic­it bias in order to pro­mote the equi­table treat­ment of stu­dents in MNPS schools. Their sec­ond year of fund­ing will allow for 1) the cre­ation of a cohort of teach­ers that will exam­ine dis­ci­pline data and devel­op poli­cies and strate­gies that address trends and dis­par­i­ties; 2) the cre­ation of a cohort of 65 stu­dents that will learn about dis­ci­pline dis­par­i­ties, the school to pris­on pipe, and will devel­op advo­ca­cy skills in order to tell their sto­ries, 3) oppor­tu­ni­ties for both groups to inform and shape MNPS poli­cies on stu­dent dis­ci­pline.
Intend­ed Pol­i­cy Impact: Estab­lish a strate­gic reduc­tion goal for MNPS dis­ci­pline dis­par­i­ties that is adopt­ed as pol­i­cy and tracked by MNPS and PASSAGE. Review and strength­en con­duct code “catch all” cat­e­gories by May 2018.

Centro Hispano

Loca­tion: East Tennessee/Knoxville
Pri­or­i­ty: Appro­pri­ate and Equi­table Resources and Sup­ports
Top­ic: Cre­at­ing a Lati­no Stu­dent Suc­cess Coali­tion in Knox Coun­ty
Sum­ma­ry: Cen­tro His­pano de East Ten­nessee will cre­ate a Lati­no Stu­dent Suc­cess Coali­tion (LSSC) in Knox Coun­ty com­prised of high school youth, com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tors, and allies. LSSC mem­bers will meet reg­u­lar­ly to craft a pol­i­cy agen­da and devel­op a shared advo­ca­cy agen­da that results in the increase in appro­pri­ate and equi­table sup­ports and resources for Lati­no stu­dents in Knox Coun­ty. Youth mem­bers will receive lead­er­ship train­ing, and togeth­er with oth­er mem­bers will devel­op an elec­tron­ic plat­form for shar­ing resources.

Chattanooga State Community College

Loca­tion: East Tennessee/Chattanooga
Pri­or­i­ty: Appro­pri­ate and Equi­table Resources and Sup­ports
Top­ic: Cre­at­ing a pilot pro­gram for Eng­lish Learn­ers at Howard High School in part­ner­ship with the Chat­tanooga Col­lege of Applied Tech­nol­o­gy (TCAT)
Sum­ma­ry: Chat­tanooga State Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege will cre­ate the Bridges to Suc­cess 2.0 pro­gram for Eng­lish Learn­er stu­dents at Howard High School, who will com­plete cer­ti­fi­ca­tions at the Chat­tanooga TCAT while still enrolled in high school. Chat­tanooga State Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege hous­es Chat­tanooga TCAT and will launch, inte­grate, and provide gate­way cours­es and tech­ni­cal bench­mark skills for 20 Lati­no EL stu­dents. Intend­ed out­comes include improv­ing aca­d­e­mic excel­lence and career cre­den­tials in Hamil­ton Coun­ty for Eng­lish Learn­ers, cre­at­ing a pipeline of EL stu­dents into Chat­tanooga TCAT and/or Chat­tanooga State Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, estab­lish­ing proven path­ways to post-sec­ondary cre­den­tials and degrees, and pro­vid­ing con­nec­tions to jobs for EL stu­dents.

Tennessee Urban League Affiliates (TULA) in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville

Loca­tion: Statewide
Pri­or­i­ty: Strong Account­abil­i­ty Sys­tems
Top­ic: TULA train­ing, advo­ca­cy and lead­er­ship on ESSA
Sum­ma­ry: The Knoxville Urban League will devel­op a mate­ri­als, con­tent, and train­ing on ESSA for all four of their affil­i­ates in Ten­nessee. Each affil­i­ate will serve as an ESSA hub of infor­ma­tion, pro­vid­ing work­shops, infor­ma­tion ses­sions, and oppor­tu­ni­ties for engage­ment in schools and com­mu­ni­ties on ESSA imple­men­ta­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, in part­ner­ship with the Nation­al Urban League and Conex­ión Améri­c­as, all four TULA affil­i­ates will devel­op and offer a train­ing for local com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to serve on school improve­ment teams in both Pri­or­i­ty and Focus schools.

2016 Grant Recipients

Conex­ión Améri­c­as fund­ed nine statewide ini­tia­tives in 2016–2017.

Knoxville Equity Alliance

The Urban League, Project GRAD, Cen­tro His­pano and Knox Coun­ty Schools worked to pro­mote advo­ca­cy and engage­ment efforts gen­er­at­ing deep­er sup­port for edu­ca­tion­al equi­ty, oppor­tu­ni­ty and excel­lence to improve edu­ca­tion­al out­comes for under­served stu­dents of col­or in Knox Coun­ty. The Knoxville Alliance also addressed the issue of elim­i­nat­ing sys­temic dis­par­i­ties in dis­ci­pline and sus­pen­sion based on race and oth­er stu­dent char­ac­ter­is­tics in Knox Coun­ty Schools.

Maryville College

Maryville Col­lege worked to provide infor­ma­tion and resources to high school and post­sec­ondary admis­sions coun­selors while also lead­ing a col­lege-prep pro­gram at Lenoir City High School. Maryville coor­di­nat­ed a one-day con­fer­ence for edu­ca­tors to learn more about the grow­ing Lati­no pop­u­la­tion in East Ten­nessee, and to pro­mote local and nation­al resources and sup­ports.
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Trailblazer Coalition

Lip­scomb University’s Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion spear­head­ed the cre­ation of the Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion (TC), with the sup­port of the Nashville Teacher Res­i­den­cy and Bel­mont University’s Teacher Res­i­den­cy Pro­gram. TC’s main goal in 2016–2017 was to for­mu­late strate­gic plans designed to improve recruit­ment and reten­tion of can­di­dates of col­or in area teacher prepa­ra­tion pro­grams with the long-term goal of increas­ing the num­ber of can­di­dates of col­or grad­u­at­ing to teach in Metro Nashville Pub­lic Schools.
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The National Civil Rights Museum

The Nation­al Civil Rights Muse­um, in part­ner­ship with the Shel­by Coun­ty School Sys­tem worked to facil­i­tate increased com­mu­ni­ca­tion to par­ents, advo­cates and oth­er inter­est­ed par­ties, regard­ing pro­gress relat­ed to the invest­ment that was made in school reforms in Shel­by Coun­ty over the past six years.  The Muse­um worked with the school sys­tem to trans­par­ent­ly com­mu­ni­cate empir­i­cal data through edu­ca­tion­al exhibits.

Christian Brothers University

Chris­tian Broth­ers Uni­ver­si­ty will devel­op and imple­ment a Spe­cial Top­ics course designed to teach Lati­no and oth­er stu­dents about pub­lic advo­ca­cy and to car­ry out a com­pre­hen­sive advo­ca­cy project focused on tuition equal­i­ty. Lever­ag­ing the university’s sig­nif­i­cant exist­ing efforts to serve Lati­no stu­dents, the “Advo­ca­cy in Action” course will com­plete a holis­tic net­work sup­port­ing Lati­no stu­dent suc­cess at CBU.
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Family Engagement University

Fam­i­ly Engage­ment Uni­ver­si­ty, a pro­gram of Metro Nashville Pub­lic Schools’ Depart­ment of Fam­i­ly and Com­mu­ni­ty Part­ner­ships, and Build­ing Bridges, a pro­gram of Oasis Cen­ter, worked to ele­vate the need for poli­cies that advance teacher qual­i­ty through train­ings and prepa­ra­tion around diver­si­ty, iden­ti­ty, priv­i­lege, and equi­ty for all stu­dents.

Tennessee NAACP

The Ten­nessee State Con­fer­ence of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple (NAACP)  engaged par­ents, com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and cler­gy in advo­cat­ing to insure that there is a strong account­abil­i­ty in Tennessee’s edu­ca­tion sys­tem. Town halls and edu­ca­tion forums pro­vid­ed par­tic­i­pants with in-depth train­ing on the ESSA law and how to advo­cate in their local com­mu­ni­ties.
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PeopleFirst Partnership

Peo­ple­First Part­ner­ship, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Lati­no Mem­phis and the Mem­phis Chap­ter of the NAACP, worked col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to address the issue of health dis­par­i­ties in chil­dren of col­or affect­ing school atten­dance in K-12. After a con­ven­ing on local and statewide part­ners, the group cre­at­ed task forces to iden­ti­fy pos­si­ble solu­tions in the areas of pol­i­cy at the local, the state and school dis­trict lev­el.
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