Chattanooga 2.0 sets bold goals to prepare community for the future

Child Care Resource and Referral teachers read to children at Signal Centers.

You've probably heard about a collective impact coalition called Chattanooga 2.0. It's bringing together community leaders, nonprofits, businesses, the school district, and individuals who live, work and raise a family in our area.

The mission is simple: to improve access to job opportunities for all Hamilton County students. To achieve that, Chattanooga 2.0 has set two bold goals:

» 60 percent of Hamilton County public school graduates obtain a postsecondary degree or credential, and

» 75 percent of Hamilton County adults earn a college degree or technical training certificate.

And it's not about education alone – Chattanooga 2.0 exists out of an economic imperative.

Predictions show that by 2025, 80 percent of living wage jobs in this city will require some education beyond high school. Yet as of 2017, only 36 percent of our residents had a postsecondary credential.

To be sure our community is prepared for the future, Chattanooga 2.0 assembled seven volunteer action teams to develop and implement strategies across the cradle to career continuum.

One of these action teams is Early Matters Chattanooga, made up of more than 30 local organizations that focus on early childhood challenges and opportunities. Decades of research have shown that a high- quality early education lays the foundation for the development of cognitive and social skills that impact later success in school, career and life.

Based on that, the Early Matters team's initiatives include:

» The Chattanooga Basics: Based on the model developed by Harvard University, the Chattanooga basics are five simple strategies families can use to give childlren a great start in life through everyday activities like reading a story or singing in the car.

» Hospital Visitation Program: Spearheaded by Signal Centers and United Way, this program sends volunteers to meet the parents of every newborn born in our local hospitals and offers resources including enrollment in the Imagination Library monthly book program, a free texting program that sends weekly messages based on the birth date of the child, and the Chattanooga Basics.

» ACE Training Workshops: Created in response to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), workshops are held around our community for a variety of stakeholders including educators, school counselors, medical professionals and businesses. Research shows that 'toxic stress' caused by chronic exposure to traumatic events in childhood is at the root of many challenging adult outcomes such as obesity. These workshops help move us toward becoming a trauma-informed community, which is an underlying priority for Early Matters Chattanooga.

To learn more about our other action teams and initiatives, follow us on Facebook at @chattanooga2pt0 or send an email to