SWTDD’s REDI College Access Program receives Innovator Award | Events
Southwest Tennessee Development District’s REDI College Access Program received a coveted Innovator Award this week at the Southern Growth Policies Board’s Conference in Chattanooga. The Southern Growth Policies Board is made of the Governors from 13 Southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The 2012 conference theme was “Re-imagining Workforce Development” and it was hosted by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
Acknowledging that an educated workforce is essential in sustaining economic success in today’s world, the two-day conference targeted creative and innovative ways to make strides in creating a world-class workforce and recognized programs throughout the south that were making strides in this arena. At the conference, each of the 13 Southern states received one Innovator Award for a workforce development-related program. SWTDD’s REDI Program was the winner for the State of Tennessee.
“To stay competitive in a 21st century economy, it is imperative that we create a more seamless path between high school, postsecondary, and the workforce. Today’s students must be prepared to be tomorrow’s workers,” said Governor Haslam. “The states that provide the strongest pool of talented workers with the most relevant skill sets are the states that will grow jobs and attract businesses.”
“Southwest Tennessee Development District’s REDI concept began in 2008 when regional leaders in both the public and private sector met for a two-day brainstorming retreat addressing economic development issues specific to the West Tennessee region,” said Lisa Hankins, REDI Director for the 11-county regional effort. “Based on the vision captured at the retreat – that successful economic development requires a strong foundation and that “education” is that foundation – REDI and its workforce development focus became a reality in March 2010. In just two years, the Regional Economic Development Initiative has touched the lives of literally thousands of students – both traditional high school graduates and non-traditional adult students.”
Working closely with 19 high schools in the 11-county area, REDI’s College Access Program helped 1,284 seniors from the Class of 2011 acquire financial aid totaling $6.5 million dollars for post-secondary education in the 2011/2012 academic year. Impact numbers for the Class of 2012 are still being tabulated. Besides helping students get to college, REDI has personnel on the campuses of Jackson State and Dyersburg State whose primary responsibility is to help students stay in college. On those campuses, REDI’s community college students have a retention rate of 75 percent (compared to a non-REDI rate of 50 percent).
The West Tennessee counties participating in REDI are Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Lauderdale, McNairy and Tipton.
To learn more about the REDI Program, contact Lisa Hankins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 731.668.6450.