Project GRAD is a national education program with a record of improving college going rates of students from low-income backgrounds. Research indicates specific barriers to student success emerge in urban communities and schools in greater proportion. These barriers include: lower academic performance, lack of experiences/exposure to opportunities and directive guidance, and an impact of economic disparity on meeting basic needs and accessing provisional resources. Project GRAD USA provides technical assistance and a best practices network to local sites. Mutually reinforcing structural components: social services & parental engagement, college/career access and college/career support, undergird the school district’s focus on academic excellence for all children. Components are implemented in all participating schools with additional resources and support.
In each Project GRAD city, an independent non-profit organization and board of directors work in partnership with the school system and community in overseeing GRAD support. Project GRAD actively seeks collaborative community engagement and provides an additional avenue for concerned individuals to support public, high need schools in the urban community.
Two high schools, two middle schools, and ten elementary schools receive additional support from Knox County Schools through the Project GRAD Knoxville partnership.
Knox County Schools has a 100/90/90/90 academic target (100% of an entering freshman class will graduate within four years; 90% of those will graduate with a regular diploma; 90% of those graduating with a regular diploma will have taken the ACT; and 90% of those who have taken the ACT will have scored a composite 21 or higher). In support of the Knox County Schools Excellence for All Children Strategic Plan, Project GRAD Knoxville focuses on: (1) increasing academic achievement, (2) increasing high school graduation rates, and (3) increasing college-going and success rates for students in District schools with Project GRAD.