Across the county 40 businesses, nonprofits and organizations are committed to hiring low-income Hamilton County high school students this summer for an internship through Step-Up Chattanooga.

And the Public Education Foundation hopes more employers will volunteer to get involved.

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This is a screenshot of the Step-Up Chattanooga website.
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President of Chattanooga's Public Education Foundation, Dan Challener, talks to reporters at the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2014.

Step-Up Chattanooga was launched earlier this spring by PEF and the Hamilton County Department of Education. The program provides low-income juniors and seniors with paid internships designed to train and connect them with employers.

This program is modeled after Step-Up Minneapolis, which successfully connected 21,000 students with employers over a decade. Ninety six percent of those supervisors reported that their students made valuable contributions to their companies' workplace.

"Thousands of those students have subsequently been hired by Minneapolis businesses — giving those businesses well-trained, local talent and providing those students with life-changing employment," PEF President Dan Challener previously told the Times Free Press. "This is exactly what we want to do in our community."

Step-Up Chattanooga has already recruited local high school students and is providing work readiness training designed to help them be successful in interviews and a professional setting.

Throughout the summer the 100 students hired will be given meaningful work at their place of employment, and students will receive support and feedback from Step-Up staff and supervisors at their job, according to a press release from PEF.

For more information about becoming a business partner, visit

Step-Up employers

The following businesses, nonprofits and organizations have signed up to hire Step-Up Chattanooga paid interns this summer:

Application Researchers

ASA Engineering & Consulting, Inc.

Benwood Foundation

Bessie Smith Cultural Center

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Booker T. Washington State Park

Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA)

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

Chattanooga Florist

Chattanooga Gas Company

Chattanooga Public Library

Chattanooga Lookouts

Chattanooga News Chronicle

Chattanooga State Community College

Chattanooga Renaissance Fund

Chattanooga Times Free Press

Chattanooga Zoo


City of Chattanooga

The Company Lab (CO.LAB)

Creative Discovery Museum

The Enterprise Center

EPB of Chattanooga


Lamp Post Group

The Links, Incorporated-Chattanooga Chapter

Northside Neighborhood House

Public Education Foundation

River City Company


2nds Building Materials (Southeastern Salvage, Home Emporium, Discount Building Materials)


SunTrust Bank

TechTown Foundation, Inc.

Tennessee Aquarium

United Way of Greater Chattanooga

Vision Hospitality Group

Warren and Griffin Law Firm