October 1, 2018

You’re Invited: Teacherpreneur Pitch Night

Teacherpreneur’s fifth annual Pitch Night will kick off Startup Week Chattanooga on Sunday, October 21 from 4-6pm!  Join us to hear ideas from Hamilton County’s most innovative educators.

Teacherpreneurs will pitch their big idea for education in front of a panel of judges and our community (that’s you!) on Sunday, October 21 from 4-6pm.  Admission is free, but space is limited.  Audience members will also be able to vote online, awarding a prize to the crowd favorite sponsored by Locals Only Chattanooga.

The Teacherpreneur Incubator offers teachers the support, time and space to incubate big ideas and grow them into sustainable, scalable projects, programs and businesses. A partnership between PEF and HCDE, with the generous support of the Benwood Foundation,  Teacherpreneur brings together educators, entrepreneurs, experts, and community members to develop and grow ideas with impact far beyond four classroom walls.

The educators participating this year are:

  • Michelle Bettis (East Hamilton School), Stephanie Montgomery (STEM School), and Nikki Russell (Orchard Knob Elementary)
  • Tyler Roberson (Soddy Daisy Middle)
  • Michael Caraccio (Sale Creek School)
  • Chelsie Durham and Lauren Swanson (Lakeside Academy)
  • Maureen Clark (Soddy Daisy High)
  • Sherry Heinz (The Howard School)
  • Erika Martin (East Brainerd Elementary)
  • Karen West, Comelia Franceschi, Laurie Clifton (CSLA) and Susan Morrison (Tyner Academy)
  • Audrey Pulse (Wallace A. Smith Elementary)
  • Sam Martin (Red Bank Middle)
  • Tarah Kemp (DuPont Elementary)
  • Kristina Williams (Brainerd High)
  • Marcie Williams (Ooltewah HIgh)
  • Tad Russell (Soddy Daisy Middle)
  • Jessica Hoover (Hixson Elementary)
  • Chris Seanard (Dalewood Middle)

Teacherpreneur is an event unlike any other – REGISTER NOW to cheer on these fantastic educators as they take the stage!

June 22, 2018

What’s next for education? You tell us!

Applications are open for  Teacherpreneur Incubator!  We have exciting new changes this year.  We’ve moved the 48HR Launch and Pitch Night to kick off our growing Startup Week Chattanooga in October!  Teacherpreneurs fit perfectly into this exciting week celebrating our entrepreneurial community.

We have also partnered with CO.LAB to offer selected Teacherpreneur’s the opportunity to go through CO.STARTERS – an 8-week course led by expert entrepreneurial facilitators – prior to the 48HR Launch.  Educators who spend their time in the Teacherpreneur Incubator will finish with the momentum and toolkit (and hopefully funds!) to implement their ideas.

The deadline to apply is August 3.  Join us for an Idea Workshop in July to learn more about the program and what to expect, as well as assistance with your idea and application.  Office hours will also be held as we approach the deadline.

Contact Kate with any questions:

January 24, 2018

Fund for Teachers Applications Due January 31


The Fund for Teachers application deadline is next week, January 31, 2018 at 6:00pm.  

Here are some helpful tips from Fund for Teachers to assist you with your application:

  • Visit the Application Learning Center where you can find everything you need from how to develop your fellowship ideas to tips for using the online system.
  • Writing tips for your application- we especially love tips #7, 8, and 9!
  • Applications are all judged against the Fund for Teachers’ Scoring Rubric.  Each section of the proposal is weighed equally.  Use the rubric as you write!
  • Once you have a final draft, reread the Application Guidelines to make sure you have covered everything.
  • Need help with the Online Application?  You can find tips for using the Online Application here.
  • You can also read the Fund for Teachers newsletters and blog for inspiring stories, tips, and details.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about your proposal-  Looking forward to hearing your innovative ideas for summer learning experiences!

Fund for Teachers PEF Team
Kate Skonberg & Joni Martin

October 25, 2017

College Goal TN Conference 2017: Building Your Dream


Contact: Stacy Lightfoot / 423-648-4443


Register Now for College Goal Tennessee 2017

High School & College Students, Parents, Educators & Counselors

Invited To Learn More About College Financial Aid

CHATTANOOGA, October 24 – High school students, parents and educators, mark your calendars for Saturday, November 4. Join us at the “4th Annual College Goal Tennessee 2017: Building Your Future” from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the UTC University Center at 615 McCallie Avenue. PEF, UTC & our partners are hosting this free college planning and financial aid workshop as part of the nationwide “College Goal” initiative. Free breakfast and lunch will be provided. On-site registration will begin at 8:30 am.

Last year, more than 300 people attended the conference which informs families and educators how students can succeed in college and how to apply for financial aid. Participants will receive free on-site assistance completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – the federal financial aid form that students and parents are required to file for students to be eligible to receive any state or federal assistance. College students and their parents are encouraged to attend as well.

Some of the workshop titles will include:

  • Show Me the Money: Financial Aid 101
  • Paying for College: Steps after the FAFSA
  • Applying to QuestBridge
  • Conexion Americas
  • Low Stakes Placement Testing
  • Music and The Arts in Postsecondary Education
  • Navigating The Campus Social Scene
  • Life After High School
  • How to Find More Money for College Now
  • How to Overcome Summer Melt
  • Primary Means to Promote Your Child’s Well-Being
  • Georgia State University’s Innovative Approach to Access & Research
  • Realizing Dreams: Non-cognitive Factors Promoting a Positive Postsecondary Education Experience
  • UT-Chattanooga College Tour
  • Don’t Be Basic: Self-Marketing Fundamentals for the Job Search

“During this free, half-day conference, students and their supporters will learn from experts and each other how to be successful in college,” says PEF’s Stacy Lightfoot. “Topics will range from financial planning for college and navigating applications to what employers look for in potential hires, and much more. Business leaders, college admissions, and financial aid experts will lead the sessions. This conference will confront real topics that affect the persistence of college students.”

Participants can register at This free workshop is sponsored by PEF, UTC, Chattanooga State Community College, HCDE, YoungandWiser, Inc., edsouth, FAFSA Frenzy, Girls Preparatory School, Naviance by Hobsons, SACAC (Southern Association for College Admission Counseling), TSAC (TN Student Assistance Corporation), and TCASN (TN College Access & Success Network).

For more information, contact PEF VP of College & Career Success Stacy Lightfoot at or 423-648-4443.


ABOUT PEF PEF is transforming public education. We are an advocate for the region and Hamilton County schools and its teachers, leaders, and students. For over 25 years, we have worked in partnership with Hamilton County schools and provide training, research, and resources to teachers, principals, and schools. Our mission is to increase student achievement so all our students succeed in learning and in life. PEF has helped to bring more than $70 million in supplemental, philanthropic funding to the school system to help achieve that mission.


August 20, 2017

Exciting new changes to the 2017-2018 iPLC Program!

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are one of the most effective mechanisms to identify and cultivate innovative education practices.  For the past four years, our iPLC program has brought together diverse groups of educators to PEF to learn and share effective ways to integrate technology in the classroom.  As we go into our fifth year of the program, we want to leverage the expertise that we know exists in our Hamilton County schools to start localized iPLCs.  This year’s cohort will consist of iPLC Facilitators who will receive training and ongoing support to organize and run iPLCs in their schools.  A stipend will be awarded to iPLC Facilitators to honor their time and commitment.

Who should apply?  

The ideal candidate for an iPLC Facilitator is a Hamilton County educator who enjoys working with people and who has a demonstrated ability to collaborate, problem solve, and innovate.  They should also be comfortable trying new things.

Applicants must also be able to:

  • Attend all 4 iPLC Facilitator meetings held from 5:00-7:00pm on September 19, November 14, February 13, and April 10
  • Organize and lead monthly iPLC sessions at your school from October through April
  • Participate in the Teach with Tech Expo on April 28, 2018

Applications are currently open and the deadline to apply is September 11 at noon.  You can find out more and apply here.

July 25, 2017

Teacherpreneur 4.0 launches this Sunday

Teacherpreneur 4.0 launches this Sunday
Community invited to Pitch Night to hear teachers share their visions for transforming education

After a competitive application process, 22 teachers from 16 Hamilton County public schools had their ideas selected for inclusion in the Teacherpreneur Incubator. They will spend this weekend at an intensive 48Hour Launch, culminating in a public Pitch Night. The community is invited to hear these pitches and celebrate this group of innovative educators on Sunday, July 30 at 4:00 pm at the Granfalloon, 400 E. Main St. General admission is free, but audience members must register online at, as space is limited.

The Teacherpreneur Incubator is a truly unique leadership initiative offering educators the support, time and space to launch big ideas in the best interests of our students, schools, communities and the teaching profession. PEF and the Hamilton County Department of Education are collaborating with the Benwood Foundation, the Footprint Foundation and CO.LAB, with additional support from Locals Only Merch and the Chambliss Startup Group, on this innovative approach to engaging and empowering area teachers.

In May, HCDE teachers submitted almost 40 of proposals to the Teacherpreneur Incubator. Those proposals were narrowed to the 17 teams who will enter the Teacherpreneur 48Hour Launch, where educators will receive feedback, support and encouragement from entrepreneurs, mentors and community members throughout the weekend. The 48Hour Launch will be hosted at the Edney Innovation Center. Volunteers are welcome to attend.

On Sunday, July 30, the Launch culminates with educators pitching their ideas to a panel of judges at the Granfalloon. Projects will be chosen to receive funding and the on-going support to take ideas from concept to classroom; in addition, the top three project teams will receive prize money, as will a crowd-favorite voted on by the audience. VIP seats are $25. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be available during the event.

Michael Stone, PEF Director of Innovative Learning says, “We are always blown away by the community support for Teacherpreneur – we’re lucky to work with educators like these every day, but this is an incredible opportunity for the public to see the kinds of innovative professionals we have in every school in Hamilton County. With ideas ranging from a drone-racing course to a digital badging application to a bi-lingual guide to elementary math, we’re excited to see this year’s cohort take the stage!”

This year’s Teacherpreneur competitors include: Beth Wilson (Red Bank Elementary); Chris Cooper (Ooltewah Middle School); Colby Williams (East Hamilton High School); Dan Basler (Lookout Valley Middle/High School); Danielle Morgan Hooper (Central High School); Marie Dean (Brainerd High School); Lisa Blakely (Big Ridge Elementary) and Genise Fletcher (Tyner Academy), Magan Lampard (Wolftever Creek Elementary) and Sue Williamson (STEM School); Mary Manning, Drew Akins and James Stone (Red Bank High School); Matthew Craig (Red Bank Middle and High School); Mendi Catlett (Harrison Elementary); Olivia Bagby (Red Bank High School); Sara Durst (East Lake Elementary); Sara Southard (Harrison Elementary); Shannon Seigle (STEM School Chattanooga); Shela Brazeale and Jim Snyder (Central High School); and Tara Tharp (Signal Mountain Middle/High School).

April 12, 2017

DuPont, East Ridge Elementary Schools Awarded Prestigious Annenberg Grants

PEF is pleased to announce two grants of $50,000 each from The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children to DuPont Elementary and East Ridge Elementary. DuPont will remodel and repurpose the existing library into the “Epicenter of Learning and Collaboration,” provide students with new books and e-readers, build a “Mealtime Conversation” learning lab, and refurbish areas dedicated to technology and collaboration. East Ridge will allow students at all levels to benefit from a new “Synergy Station” with updated reading materials, literary technology, and new seating in their library.

This is the eighth year of a collaborative effort between PEF and The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children resulting in significant financial support to 14 area schools. 2017 marks the final year of grants from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children, which will have given a total of $7 million to 91 public elementary schools that are in financial need and serve a high proportion of children from families living in poverty.

“For a decade, the Leonore Annenberg School Fund has sought to create new learning opportunities for public elementary school students,” said Gail Levin, Ph.D., director of the program, which is administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “We are grateful for the steady, hands-on support of our regional partner organizations, the commitment and passion of teachers and staff in each school recipient, and especially the children who gave joy and meaning to our collective efforts.”

“Leonore Annenberg was committed to improving the lives of children, particularly those who, with support, will become leaders of the next generation,” says PEF president Dan Challener. “These grants certainly underscore the heart of her mission to provide students resources to help them shine brightly. We are so pleased to announce this year’s awards to Dupont Elementary and East Ridge Elementary. The public will be invited to celebrations at each school in the fall to see how these grants are making a difference for students.”

In 1997, the late philanthropist Walter Annenberg made a special opportunity grant to Chattanooga as part of his national call to arms in support of American public education. That support, which recognized the merger of city schools with the surrounding Hamilton County system, helped to create PEF’s Leadership Initiative. Several years later, additional support was designated for a strategic communications plan and mission-focused public relations work. The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children grants build upon this legacy of partnership.

In total, The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children has given over $1 million to schools in southeast Tennessee. Previous local grants have funded diverse projects including a reading lab, multimedia facility, art studio, media center, classroom technology, playground improvements, science lab, classroom book nooks, Chromebooks, a student leadership program, software, and technology upgrades.

About the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children

The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, provides educational resources of immediate and direct value to schools serving children with great need. Visit

March 31, 2017

Project Inspire featured in U.S. News and World Report

Read the full article at

Graduate Teacher Residency Programs Help Educators Make the Grade

Through these programs, prospective teachers train to help low-income, high-need schools

By Margaret Loftus, Contributor | March 30, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.

… Similar to the medical school residency, where physicians are trained in hospitals alongside practicing clinicians, these teacher prep programs give participants almost immediate exposure to leading a K-12 classroom instead of holding off and providing a shorter student-teaching stint just before they earn a degree.
“The best place to train a teacher is in a school,” says Mark Neal, the director of Project Inspire, a teacher residency in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Everything you’re learning is being applied in a classroom.”

… So far, retention rates are promising. While federal data indicate that about 1 in 6 public school teachers leave the profession within the first five years, other estimates suggest that the figure might be as high as 50 percent. In 2015-2016, the five-year retention rate across NCTR programs was 70 percent.

March 16, 2017

Shop AmazonSmile and help PEF with every purchase


Did you know AmazonSmile gives back to nonprofits? Each time you shop through, the company donates 0.5% of your eligible purchase to the organization of your choice!

It’s easy to get started. Simply click the button above! Then shop til you drop, knowing you’re helping PEF invest in teachers, develop leaders, and support students every time you fill your cart.

February 1, 2017

MBD: Girl Edition seeks high school applicants for 24Hour Generator

We are looking for young women interested in participating in the third annual 24Hour Generator, a reverse-pitch competition open to high school girls from across the Tennessee Valley and co-hosted by PEF, CO.LAB and GPS. The event will take place March 11.

Please share the flyer and application with students who spring to mind, or recommend them using the same application form.

The 24Hour Generator can be a great opportunity for students who break, rather than fit, the traditional mold – we’re not just looking for the class presidents or the valedictorians, but instead for girls who may have yet to find their passion. Here are a set of profiles to illustrate types of students who may make especially good candidates.

Some quick details, with more information available at

  • Applications are open to female high school students, grades 9 through 12, whether home-schooled, publicly or privately educated. We have 50 spots available in this year’s event; applications will close February 20th.
  • Local businesses and startups present challenges to teams of students; these teams then work with business leaders and mentors to develop a unique solution and pitch over the following 24 hours.
  • Teams will present their ideas to the public and a panel of judges, for prizes and recognition, at Mad, Bad and Dangerous: Girl Edition on March 11th.  The final pitch event will be open to the public, so families, friends and teachers are welcome to attend and cheer on their students.
  • Our sponsors graciously cover the costs of attendance, meals and transportation for all participants.
  • The Generator is an all-nighter, with female chaperones and security.
  • Participating students have received internships from the companies with whom they’ve worked, and we’ve seen friendships blossom. It’s a great opportunity for shier, creative talents and out-of-the-box thinkers!
  • Participants and their families will all be invited to a VIP reception with community and entrepreneurial leaders after their event.

Questions? Contact PEF’s Geoff Millener (423.648.4448 or

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