Innovative School Models

Tennessee’s thriving business community relies on
us developing a strong workforce—and that work
starts in education.

Innovative preparations to ensure students are
ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow may look
entirely different than a traditional classroom or
school experience.


Innovative School Models can provide invaluable learning experiences that prepare students for success after graduation.

Building upon the state’s strong commitment to ensure Tennessee is future workforce ready, Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly made an historic investment of $500 million to bring Innovative School Models to every public high school and middle school in the state. By expanding Tennessee’s Innovative School Models aimed at building readiness and preparing students for success after high school, more students will have opportunities to participate in participate in innovative local programs aligned to Tennessee’s highest-demand skills and careers.

In May 2021, the department awarded 21 school district Innovative High School Model grants, which included an initial investment of $30 million to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness. These partnerships have already shown an incredible impact on students’ experiences and readiness for the workforce and postsecondary opportunities. 

The future of innovative programs to boost student and workforce readiness in Tennessee is brighter than ever. Through reimagining the high school experience; becoming more strategic about engaging younger students in career exploration; expanding access to courses; improving how data is collected and used; and being even more intentional in how we listen to—and learn from—Tennesseans, we will continue to keep our state’s workforce strong for years to come.

There will be three application windows, starting August 2, 2022, to ensure districts have ample planning time for strong applications. Please be aware that the later application windows may be an advantage and districts should only submit applications when fully ready. This funding is transformative and the expectation is high for a passing application. Additional vendor supports and resources will be available later in the grant window as well as the TISA rules will then be finalized. Districts could align and would be able to maximize their ongoing funding.