Category Archives: Community Partners

Nashville youth can find jobs and internships through city’s Opportunity NOW program


  • Opportunity NOW is a coordinated initiative providing young people in Metro Davidson County access to employment.
  • Launched by Mayor Megan Barry and supported by the Metro Council, this initiative is designed to combat the growing employer concern about lack of “soft” skills among their youngest employees – skills most learned through actual work experience.

Facts About Opportunity NOW:

  • Any young person 14-24 can search and apply for jobs on Opportunity NOW
  • Metro jobs for 14-15 year olds are called “Experience Work” and pay $8/hr
    • Application period closes April 17th
  • Metro jobs for 16-17 year olds are called “High School Internships” and pay $9/hr
    • Application period closes April 7th
  • Metro jobs for May 2017 high school graduates are called “Summer Plus” and pay is market rate
    • Application period closes May 8th

Check out these upcoming onboarding events for more information:

  • April 3, 2:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Thompson Lane Library, 380 Thompson Lane, Nashville, TN 37211
  • April 4, 3-7 p.m.
    • Watkins Park Library, 612 17th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37203
  • April 5, 3-7 p.m.
    • Madison Library, 610 Gallatin Pike S., Madison, TN 37115
  • April 6, 2:30-8 p.m.
    • Southeast Community Center, 5260 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Suite 202, Antioch, TN 37013

Click here to access the Opportunity NOW portal.


Overton High School students experience future careers in ACE Mentor Program


“I want to be an engineer,” said Natjha Johnson, a senior at John Overton High School. “I heard so many good things about this program through my teacher and I wanted to give it a try. Being in this program reassures me that I can do it.”

Johnson is one of a group of students from John Overton High School participating in the ACE Mentor Program, a national program that pairs high school students interested in careers in architecture, construction and engineering with professionals in each field. The program exposes students to all three professions with the goal of helping them determine their future career path.


During their most recent meeting, the students visited Earl Swensson Associates, Inc. (ESa), a Nashville-based architecture firm that has designed numerous buildings in Nashville and across the country  – including the iconic AT&T Building in downtown Nashville.

The students were given a tour of ESa, where they learned about the structure and job responsibilities within the company and experienced the different work spaces in an architecture office.


“I’ve learned that there are different pathways in engineering,” said Johnson about the ACE Mentor Program. “I’ve broadened my horizons too. Going on that tour makes me even consider being an architect. I’ve learned that I have more options.”

Since the beginning of the school year, the students have met with their group of mentors twice a month, learning about each mentor’s profession and and using the knowledge they’ve gained to work on a year-long project.

The group selected resilience as the topic for their project. With the guidance of their mentors, the students are designing an apartment building with features that would help it withstand a natural disaster.

At the end of the year, the students will present their project at a banquet where they will compete against other local ACE Mentor groups for college scholarships.

National school discipline data expert highlights Metro Schools’ progress


Dr. Shawn Joseph, Director of Schools, speaks at the community forum held in February 2017 that featured national school discipline expert Dr. Tia Martinez, who presented an analysis and mapping of the school-to-prison pipeline.

Metro Schools’ progressive effort to reduce discipline disparities was highlighted in a recent community forum. Dr. Tia Martinez, a nationally recognized expert on school discipline data, presented her analysis and mapping of the school-to-prison pipeline.

“We are making progress here in Nashville,” Martinez said. Metro Schools saw a 15 percent decline in suspensions between the 2011-2012 school year and 2013-2014 school year, declining from 8,134 suspensions to 6,932 suspensions.

“We’ve done a lot of good things in our three years but now we’re ready for the next level,” – Dr. Tony Majors, executive officer for support services.

The forum was sponsored by Metro Schools, the Oasis Center and the Annenberg Institute, all partners in Nashville’s PASSAGE initiative.

PASSAGE, which stands for Positive and Safe Schools Advancing Greater Equity, is an initiative developed in 2014 to engage district and community partners in examining and addressing school discipline issues.

In the fall,  PASSAGE was awarded a $250,000 grant to expand into the next phase of the district’s restorative practices efforts, which include ongoing coalition building among wide range of stakeholders, including principals, parents, teachers, counselors, law enforcement officers, clergy, juvenile judges, community leaders, researchers and local government officials, as well as training for these groups to critically examine the structures, policies and practices that perpetuate discipline disparities and contribute to negative school climate and culture.

“I love Nashville, because you have an explicit commitment to the work,” Martinez said. “The work to reduce the discipline gap is not something that can only be owned by the schools. We’ll all take pieces of it.”

“It’s going to take the whole community to address these issues,” said Dr. Shawn Joseph, Director of Schools. “America has an equity problem and Nashville is a microcosm of the issue. I’m encouraged because we’re all here.”

Dr. Joseph said that working with the community through the strategic plan will require the district to be clear about doing something better to address the discipline gap.

Connecting the dots from age 0 to adulthood, Martinez explained how the toxic stress and dysfunction that children can be exposed to from an early age translates to behavioral issues and negative interactions with law enforcement as a child gets older, which ultimately contributes to the prison pipeline. She presented several solutions, including investments in programs and services for youth, training for teachers and administrators and overall working with community partners and organizations to raise the expectations for children in the community. passage-majors

“Most of our kids are misbehaving as a result of something else in their life,” Majors said. “We have kids we know in all clusters, in all segments of our community, who suffer from a high rate of trauma who are dealing with adverse childhood experiences, who are worrying about immigration issues and deportation, who can’t find a job,  and are dealing with abuse and neglect in the home. That’s real. We have to take back the conversation.”

School board member Dr. Sharon Gentry said part of the solution is having community partners who can provide consistency among the programs offered within the district’s existing framework. Consistency is key for the district and community to make the right program investments.

“We need partners who want to come under the tent – there’s room,” Gentry said.

Tom Ward, who co-chairs Nashville’s PASSAGE committee, said there are no expendable children and that we have to spend our energy on making resources available to the children who need it.

“We can do this in Nashville,” Ward said.

Academy Sports + Outdoors and the Tennessee Titans donate bikes, promote fitness at Inglewood Elementary


At Inglewood Elementary, Academy Sports + Outdoors and Tennessee Titans’ players, cheerleaders, and mascot donated bikes and helmets to 70 deserving students on Dec. 13 as part of Academy’s annual bike donation program.


“This is our fifteenth year holding bike donation events,” said Rick Burleson, regional marketing specialist for Academy Sports + Outdoors. Burleson said the company increased its giving and wanted to give back to the community this year by more than doubling the number of bikes usually given.

“You think about the joy it brings to the kids,” said Alison McArthur, Metro Schools Community Achieves coordinator, about the bike donations.

A school assembly featured a Fuel Up to Play 60 presentation with Titans’ mascot T-RAC that promoted the importance of eating right and getting regular exercise.

Tennessee Titans players Ben Jones, Dennis Kelly and Harry Douglas spoke to students about focusing in school, having respect for yourself and others, and not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.

First and second grade students also participated in special fitness activity stations with Tennessee Titans players Kevin Byard, Brian Orakpo, and David Bass, who also joined in on the fun.

See highlights from the event below:

PHOTOS: CMA Foundation continues visionary commitment to music education in Metro Schools with $1 million grant for 2017

Kelsea Ballerini And CMA Foundation Announcement

Left to right: Debbie Linn of Music Makes Us, Shannon Hunt, CEO of the Nashville Public Education Foundation, Nola Jones of Music Makes Us, Laurie Schell of Music Makes Us, Robert Swope, District 4 Council member, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini, Metro Schools Chief of Staff Jana Carlisle, Anna Shepherd, board of education chair, Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, Ron Samuels of the CMA Foundation, Bill Simmons, CMA board member. The CMA Foundation announced a $1 million donation to the Metro Schools Music Makes Us program at Oliver Middle School on Dec. 6 in Nashville. Photo credit: Terry Wyatt for Getty Images.

Country star Kelsea Ballerini and the CMA Foundation celebrated a long-standing commitment to Metro Nashville Public Schools Tuesday, awarding a $1 million grant to support initiatives aimed at strengthening music education programs and music teacher support in classrooms across the city. This donation brings CMA’s support of music teachers and education in Nashville to $11 million since 2006 making it one of the largest local, private investments in the district’s public school system.

Funds for the 2017 grant were raised through CMA’s annual CMA Music Festival, held in Nashville each June. In 2017, the CMA Foundation has earmarked a record $3.1 million to 44 in- and after-school music education programs across the country, bringing the Foundation’s total contributions to date to $17.5 million (including the Metro grant).

“I think it is so important to give kids the opportunity to learn what they are passionate about,” said Ballerini. “When I was in middle and high school I took as many chorus and theater classes as I could, and I use the tools I learned then in my career today!”

See a clip of Ballerini’s performance below:

The extraordinary public/private partnership received additional awareness today as part of a Metro initiative to help non-music education and civic leaders better understand the role of music education in school improvement efforts. Groundbreaking research, funded in part by CMA, demonstrated sustained participation in music correlates directly with improved student academic performance. “CMA’s long-standing commitment to Nashville’s public schools is a shining example of the power of private/public partnerships. Their level of commitment in terms of total dollars and tenure of support is tremendous,” said Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “My hope is that their leadership inspires others to step forward in a similar fashion.”


“As we think about a more aggressive effort to strengthen and improve our public schools, music education is a central ingredient – not just because we are Music City, but because the research shows it can have a lasting impact on student success,” said Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph. “I am so proud of what the District has already done to build one of the strongest music education programs in the country, but even more optimistic about what the future will bring with partners like CMA.”

In partnership with MNPS/Music Makes Us and the Nashville Public Education Foundation, the CMA Foundation grant goes directly toward providing instruments and teacher support impacting more than 89,000 local students. The partnership between MNPS, the CMA Foundation (CMAF), and the Nashville Public Education Foundation (NPEF) is one of the district’s longest-standing and most significant public/private ventures. The generous support for music education and long-time commitment to the City of Nashville has been an essential ingredient to getting the music education program to the nationally-recognized prominence it has today. Part of CMA’s ongoing mission is funding teacher development in addition to support for music instruments and equipment.

Since 2006, CMA and the CMA Foundation have understood that, for Nashville to continue being Music City, Metro Schools require and deserve robust music education programs. CMA and the CMA Foundation have invested $11 million in 11 years in an unprecedented public/private partnership to strengthen and improve music education in Nashville schools.

Previous grants were used to stabilize programs by purchasing instruments and equipment, and to create a repair shop for the district. This year’s $1 million gift continues that tradition, while also providing substantial resources for educators based on feedback from our district’s music teachers.

“When this program began, it was important to fund instruments, which hadn’t been purchased in decades,” said Joe Galante, Chairman of the CMA Foundation and a member of the CMA Board of Directors. “Now that we have instruments in every Metro school, the CMA Foundation is expanding our focus to include teachers by providing recognition of their work, which is critical in developing and maintaining strong, sustainable music programs.”

The 2017 grant will go beyond instrument support and will benefit music educators throughout Davidson County. Supported teacher initiatives include:

  1. Side by Side – customized coaching by experts for all music teachers with 32-56 hours per teacher, with select schools also receiving support for subsidized private lessons.
  2. CMA Music Teachers of Excellence – a competitive teacher recognition program with a grant award of $2,500 for up to 20 teachers.

The District’s Prelude study, completed in 2013, indicated students who participate in music and the arts are more likely to graduate, have better attendance rates, and earn higher GPAs than those not enrolled in music programs. The CMA Foundation recognizes the benefits of music education in keeping kids engaged and the importance of supporting local music educators.

Students from the Wind Ensemble at Oliver Middle School performed during the presentation. In addition, several other city leaders were on hand to celebrate the news of this year’s grant including School Board Chair Anna Shepherd, District 4 Council member Robert Swope, and various other music industry and civic leaders.

See more photos from the event below:

Kelsea Ballerini And CMA Foundation Announcement

Singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini performs a song for the Oliver Middle School wind ensemble during the CMA Foundation’s announcement of a $1 million donation to the Metro Schools Music Makes Us program at Oliver Middle School on Dec. 6 in Nashville. Photo credit: Terry Wyatt for Getty Images

Kelsea Ballerini And CMA Foundation Announcement

Singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini attends the CMA Foundation’s announcement of a $1 million donation to the Metro Schools Music Makes Us program at Oliver Middle School on Dec. 6 in Nashville. Photo credit: Terry Wyatt for Getty Images

Kelsea Ballerini And CMA Foundation Announcement

Kelsea Ballerini celebrates with the Oliver Middle School wind ensemble after announcing a $1 million grant to support music education in Metro Schools on behalf of the CMA Foundation on Dec. 6 in Nashville. Photo credit: Terry Wyatt for Getty Images

Metro Schools students document Nashville civil rights history


Hume-Fogg High School student Clarkston Ellerby interviews Ernest “Rip” Patton, a Freedom Rider and a participant in the Nashville sit-ins.


A new podcast series pairs Metro Schools students with those who have had a front seat to iconic moments in Nashville’s civil rights history.

“My Witness” is a collaboration with One Voice Nashville facilitated by storyteller and narrative journalist Mary Margaret Randall. The 20-minute podcasts feature intergenerational interviews pairing seven Metro Schools high school students with Nashville civil rights activists. In one additional podcast, artist Walter Hood discusses his inspirations and hopes for how people will experience Nashville’s new Civil Rights-inspired artwork, Witness Walls.

“The podcasts, along with a blog and educational curriculum, are designed to support Witness Walls, currently under construction next to the Historic Metro Courthouse and expected to be completed in February 2017,” says Anne-Leslie Owens, public art project coordinator for the Metro Nashville Arts Commission.

Date: November 7

Title: “The Most Successful Civil Rights Movement”

Description: Westley Dunn (Hillsboro High School) interviews Linda T. Wynn

Date: November 14

Title: “Teachers, True Role Models”

Description: Isabella Killius (Hume-Fogg High School) interviews Ola Hudson

Date: November 21

Title: “The Reluctant Desegregation of Nashville Public Schools”

Description: Cassius Smith (Overton High School) interviews Canzada Hawkins


Date: November 28

Title: “On the Job Training at the Lunch Counter Sit-Ins”

Description: Doneisha Wells (Maplewood High School) interviews Frankie Henry

Date: January 2

Title: Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides Reveal the Power of Nonviolence

Description: Clarkston Ellerby (Hume-Fogg High School) interviews Rip Patton

Date: January 9

Title: “If You Can’t Tell Them Why You Are Marching, Get Out of the Line”

Description: Gabby Depalo (Hume-Fogg High School) interviews Vencen Horsley

Date: January 16

Title: “Passing on the Lessons of Civil Rights Activism”

Description: Danny Harp (Nashville Big Picture High School) interviews Howard Gentry

Date: January 23

Title:  “How Artists Contribute to Conversations about Civil Rights”

Description: Genevieve Jean-Pierre (MLK Jr. High School) interviews Walter Hood

Metro Schools receive national recognition for career academies

Metro Schools was recognized by the National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC) for being a champion of the career academy model, marked by small learning communities, college-prep curriculum with career themes and partnerships with local employers, higher education institutions and the community. Several schools as well as community partners were honored at the NCAC conference held in Tampa earlier this month.

McGavock High School Receives Jeffrey N. Stein Award

The Jeffrey N. Stein Award recognizes a school with career academies that demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to and passion for career academies as catalysts for helping all students, and especially disadvantaged students, according to Susan Katzman, recent past-president of the National Career Academy Coalition.

“I had the pleasure of knowing Jeffrey Stein for many years, and as a businessman and an educator, he exemplified passion, commitment and the pursuit of excellence. He did not do anything if he could not do it well. His widow Judy and a former executive director of NCAC wanted to create an award in his honor for schools that exhibit the same qualities,” said Katzman. “I am pleased to present this year’s award to McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee. They began the career academy process in 2008 and perfected their work over the next eight years. They have model academies, numerous business partners and successful students. You cannot google McGavock without seeing a YouTube video of President Obama visiting and speaking at the school in 2013.”

Meharry Medical College and Bridgestone Americas Receive Partnership Awards

Also recognized at the NCAC conference were Meharry Medical College and Bridgestone Americas, which both received the Henk Koning Exemplary Partnership Award for their continued support and partnerships with academies in Metro Schools.

Dr. Susan DeRiemer, a professor at Meharry Medical College has led Meharry’s partnership with the Glencliff High School Academy of Medical Science & Research (AMSR) almost since its beginning. Meharry, founded in 1876, is one of the oldest and largest historically black medical colleges in the United States that has always focused on training talented individuals from challenging socio-economic backgrounds and prepared them to go into underserved areas to work. Highlights of the partnership includes:

  • Externships for the academy teachers;
  • Curricular support throughout the course of the school year to carry out the project based learning endeavors;
  • Medical Interpreting pathway (started in 2014) that was co-written by Dr. DeRiemer and members of the AMSR faculty. This curriculum is the first of its kind in the nation and has been adopted by the Tennessee Department of Education as an approved pathway.

Bridgestone Americas has embraced the Academy of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, even exposing the students to international business leaders from Japan and South America, supporting students to develop beyond basic mechanic skills and become potential corporate executives. Highlights of the partnership with Maplewood High School include:

  • Transforming Maplewood’s high school automotive shop into a one-of-a-kind automotive training center in cooperation with Firestone Complete Auto Care. This included building an official Customer Service Center inside the school and providing students with access to and training on the proprietary software used in the Firestone organization;
  • Enhancing course offerings by encouraging all students to take at least one course in Marketing and Management;
  • Investing more than $300,000 in building the Firestone training center, the organization provides 2 to 3 staff members on a regular basis every couple of weeks to provide industry training to students.

Thirteen Metro Schools Receive NCAC Accreditation

In addition, the following Metro schools officially received NCAC Accreditation during the conference:

  1. Cane Ridge High School – Academy of Health Management
  2. Glencliff High School – Academy of Medical Science and Research
  3. Hillsboro High School – Academy of Global Health and Science
  4. Hillwood High School – Academy of Health Science
  5. Hillwood High School – Academy of Business and Hospitality
  6. Hillwood High School – Academy of Art, Design, and Communication
  7. Maplewood High School – Academy of Energy and Power
  8. McGavock High School – US Community Credit Union/ Gaylord Entertainment Academy of Hospitality and Finance
  9. McGavock High School – CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication
  10. McGavock High School – Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Life Science and Law
  11. McGavock High School – Academy of Aviation and Transportation
  12. Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School – Academy of Entertainment Management
  13. Whites Creek High School – Academy of Education and Law

For more information on the National Career Academy Coalition, visit

$5M NIJ grant funds public-private partnership to expand youth opportunity in Nashville

Written by . Original article from Vanderbilt University.

A nearly $5 million grant from the National Institute of Justice will fund an unprecedented five-year partnership between the Office of Mayor Megan Barry, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Oasis Center and Vanderbilt University. The project stems from the mayor’s youth opportunity initiative.

“We want to be a city that leads the nation in expanding opportunities and improving outcomes for our youth,” said Barry. “In order to do so, we need to have hard data and evidence of what works for Nashville’s youth in order to inform sound policy decisions going forward. This generous grant from the National Institute of Justice and our partnership with MNPS, Oasis Center and Vanderbilt University, will help future leaders in Nashville and around the country make decisions that positively impact all youth.”

The Nashville Longitudinal Study of Youth Safety and Wellbeing (Award #2016-CK-BX-K002) is one of only three Category 4 proposals funded by NIJ this year. Through the study, an interdisciplinary team of researchers, educators, city government and juvenile court staffers, police and youth development workers will develop a dataset to better inform decision-making with a goal of positively impacting the climate for youths in Nashville. The start date is Jan. 1.

Continue reading on Vanderbilt University Research News:

Opportunity NOW Launches Employer Recruitment Effort

At a launch event held at Emma Inc. for Opportunity NOW, Mayor Megan Barry praised support from local businesses and called on more business and community leaders to join the effort of providing paid summer jobs for Nashville’s youth next summer.


“Opportunity NOW will be most successful with public, private and not-for-profit organizations collaborating to connect our youth to opportunity and jobs,” said Mayor Barry. “Employers serve as the foundation of this initiative and the key to providing meaningful worksites, engaged supervisors, and quality opportunities for young people. I’m calling all local businesses to join us as Opportunity NOW partners, and help us make a difference in the lives of Nashville’s youth.”


Opportunity NOW is a coordinated initiative launched by Mayor Megan Barry to provide young people in Davidson County access to employment. In Nashville, we have seen fewer and fewer teenagers and young adults working during the summers and after-school. At the same time, Nashville employers across various industries are concerned about the lack of “soft” skills among their youngest employees—skills most readily learned through actual work experience.

Read more from the Mayor’s office:

Deloitte partners with Metro Schools to help students completing the FAFSA


Deloitte employees have helped 369 Metro Schools families with completing the FAFSA this year as part of the company’s effort to encourage students to attend college.

The drive to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early is yielding impressive results. It’s in big part thanks to community partners like Deloitte that recently gave FAFSA assistance to 369 families in Metro Schools this year through McGavock, Antioch and Overton high schools.

This marks the seventh year Deloitte has helped Metro families with the FAFSA.

“The two words that come to mind when I think about the FASFA Drive are connection and accomplishment,” said volunteer Debbie Banks, who is senior manager of policy, corporate card and expense compliance for Deloitte, a financial services company. “When you ask a student what they plan to study, you hear the excitement as they tell you about their future career dreams. It’s an opportunity to give them encouragement and share the sense of accomplishment you had when your dreams of a degree and a career became a reality. Just knowing you’ve helped them take the first step is the best feeling.”

Deloitte has been an Academies of Nashville partner for 10 years and was one of the original Academy partners for the district. Deloitte employees have been volunteering with Metro Schools for 21 years. In the past seven years, Deloitte has provided FAFSA assistance to 2,131 Metro Schools families.

“The first 10 years included a partnership with Warner Elementary, teaching Junior Achievement classes and supporting STEM efforts,” said John Doerge, Deloitte’s community relations lead for Tennessee. “We began the effort as part of Deloitte’s national commitment to helping to build a stronger college-going culture among American students. The addition of our engagement with the Academies of Nashville gave us an opportunity for a deeper and broader engagement at our three partner schools.”

For more information:

  • Ask your high school counselor about resources to help you complete the FAFSA, or visit
  • Is your company interested in becoming a community partner with Metro Schools? Click here.
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