Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

GRAD Team attends the National College Access Network Conference

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Ronni Chandler, GRAD Executive Director, and Tanisha Baker, GRAD Austin-East College/Career Access Team Leader, presented a breakout session for the National College Access Network annual conference in Orlando.  The  2015 NCAN theme was “Leading the Way:  From Access to Attainment.”  The GRAD team presented a workshop titled: “The Game is Chess Not Checkers.” Conference attendees, 850 total, represented more than 400 programs across the United State and Canada.  NCAN is the premier ‘practitioners’ conference for organizations involved in college access work, particularly those serving first generation college students and students under-represented in higher education.  An iMovie video on the Knox County Schools/GRAD partnership (created by GRAD College Success Coach Annette Long) was selected for inclusion with several other programs from across the country highlighting cumulative results.  The video played on continuous loop throughout the conference. GRAD is an acronym for Graduation Really Achieves Dreams.

Project GRAD Knoxville is celebrating 15 years of service with the theme “15 years, 14 schools, one big family!


Sunday, October 11th, 2015

It was a great day on Friday, October 2nd as the freshmen class at Austin-East Magnet High School accepted the challenge to meet all requirements of the Knox County School system to graduate on time and earn their Project GRAD scholarship.

The theme for the annual “I Will Graduate Ceremony” was “What’s Your Focus?” This was a good question to challenge the Class of 2019 as the students are embarking on this leg of their educational journey and need to figure what is their focus.

Mrs. Renee Kesler (Executive Director, Beck Cultural Exchange Center) was the guest speaker for the ceremony and she was very inspiring and motivational as she challenged the class to do their best and graduate.

Congratulations Class of 2019 you’re on your way!!!


Project GRAD participates in Community Events

Monday, September 21st, 2015


The Project GRAD Team was pleased to participate in the August 8th Jubilee held at Chilhowee Park and the Back-to-School Bash held on Monday, August 10th held at the Expo Center. It was good to be in the community and to have the opportunity to share information about Project GRAD Knoxville with those who stopped by our booth at each of the events.

2015 Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner

Friday, May 1st, 2015

It was a very special night at the Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner that was held on Sunday evening. More than 500 people were in attendance as Austin-East and Fulton High School scholars were honored for their accomplishments and celebrated because they have met all the requirements to earn the Project GRAD scholarship.

We were glad to have Lori Tucker as the Mistress of Ceremonies this year who did a fine job. Project GRAD Board Chair Buzz Thomas (President, Great Schools Partnership) welcomed everyone and then did the invocation in Sam Brown’s absence. Scholars Briana Carter (Austin-East) and Tony Gunn (Fulton) reflected on their educational journey. GRAD Scholar Blakely Geames is a GRAD scholar attending the University of Tennessee who spoke to the Class of 2015 and talked about what to expect after graduation.

Jerry Hodges (former Executive Director of Project GRAD Knoxville) was this year’s “Caught Doing Right Award” winner and what a surprise it was for him. Jerry initiated this award eleven years ago to recognize those who go above and beyond to enhance the lives of children and are “caught doing right for kids!” Jerry retired from Project GRAD in October and returned to Knoxville to attend the Celebration Dinner.

A chorus of community leaders and teachers came together to sing the closing selection as the program came to an end. The chorus sang “Something Inside So Strong” which is a selection to encourage the scholars as they prepare to move to the next level of their lives when they graduate from high school.

Congrats Class of 2015.

Fulton Student awarded scholarship by The Inky and Allison Johnson Foundation

Friday, April 17th, 2015

The Inky and Allison Johnson Foundation has awarded the  2015 Overcoming Adversity Scholarship to Jakayia (“Kay Kay”) Fain, graduating senior at  Fulton High School in Knoxville, TN.  Fain was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by Project GRAD Knoxville College/Career Access Coach Justin Long.  Fain, the second of seven siblings raised by a single mother, began playing basketball as a child to escape the harsh realities of public housing.  Despite the tragic death of her mother two days before her 16th birthday and a torn ACL, Fain was determined to finish strong.  She returned to basketball, was named All-District and All Region MVP and will graduate with honors on May 13.

The Johnsons established the Overcoming Adversity Scholarship to recognize a student who has exhibited determination to push beyond great adversity in the pursuit of education.   Inquoris “Inky” Johnson was injured when a routine tackle turned into a life-threatening injury.  Despite a paralyzed right arm, daily pain, and constant physical challenges, Inky obtained a master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Tennessee.  He is an inspirational speaker and mentors athletes and youth.  Johnson and wife Allison reside in Atlanta, GA.

(Inky and Allison Johnson Foundation)