TDOE Opens Applications for $14M Grant Opportunity for Innovative High School Models

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 | 05:33pm


Funding Promotes Innovative Partnerships to Boost Student Readiness & Postsecondary Success


Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced a $14 million grant opportunity to establish the new Innovative High School Models program, intended to empower local communities and collaborate to boost student readiness and prepare students for a bright future in high-demand jobs in their region.  

The goal of the Innovative High School Models program is to encourage strong and strategic innovative partnerships between Tennessee public school districts, postsecondary education institutions and local employers to reimagine how to prepare students for success after high school.  

“In public education, we have a responsibility to make learning both engaging and exciting for every student while they are in school, and meaningful to them long after they graduate,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “The Innovative High School Models program will build upon Tennessee’s history of collaboration between K-12, postsecondary and industry to create, strengthen and expand local partnerships that help students be ready for success during and after high school.”  

Through a competitive application process, 10 to 20 school districts will be awarded a grant ranging from $750,000 to $2 million to establish strategic partnerships that accelerate and increase student attainment of high-quality, in-demand postsecondary credentials. 

Grant recipients will be encouraged to rethink and revision high school educational models— from the use of time and space, entrance requirements, instructional practices and modes of learning, scheduling, and mentorship and training opportunities available to students— to provide new and additional pathways for students to be prepared for postsecondary success.  

This program will also help reinforce the work of the Tennessee Pathways model, which supports alignment among K-12, postsecondary, and industry partners to provide students with relevant education and training to jumpstart their postsecondary degrees and credentials. 

In Tennessee, high-quality career pathways support student success through: 

  • High-quality college and career advisement throughout K-12; 
  • Rigorous early postsecondary and work-based learning opportunities throughout high school; and 
  • Seamless vertical alignment between K-12, postsecondary programs, and career opportunities as a result of effective partnerships among school districts, higher education institutions, employers and community organizations. 

This grant opportunity is available through federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funding.  

The notice of intent is due April 15 and the grant application is due May 7. The application guidance and additional information can be found here.  

For additional information about Tennessee’s Career and Technical Education initiatives and programs, including Tennessee Pathways, click here. For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact