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Alliance program wins big

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Education Matters! still short of funding, however

From STAFF REPORTS
The Roane Alliance’s Education Matters! program has been selected as a Gold Award recipient by the International Economic Development Council for Excellence in Economic Development.
The award was presented at the 2013 IEDC Annual Conference in Philadelphia Monday.

Receiving the award on behalf of The Alliance was Leslie Henderson, Alliance president andCEO, and Allen Lutz, education and workforce development specialist at The Alliance.
 “I am so proud that Roane County and our program is getting this kind of recognition,” said Henderson. “It is especially gratifying to me, knowing that we were competing against much larger communities and won.”
Education Matters! received the award in the category of Partnerships with Educational Institutions in communities with a population between 25,000-200,000.
 “We knew that it was one of our most successful programs — it is already significantly boosting the number of Roane County children going on to post-secondary school,” Henderson said. “But bringing home the gold from the country’s top economic development organization’s annual conference, that is true validation for The Alliance and all the partners who have committed to help fund the continuation of this program.”
Henderson said, “The fund drive to keep Education Matters! going is still on, and we are only halfway there, so we hope this recognition will help others see its value and become funding partners also for this critically important effort.”
 “The mission of Education Matters! is that every child in Roane County gets some post-secondary education – and does well at it,” Lutz said at the award ceremony. “We owe it to our kids and our businesses — as their future employers — to keep this going.”
The programs included in the Education Matters! initiative include awareness campaigns, Tennessee Scholars, the Annual high school career day, RoaneAchieves (part of the tnAchieves program), the Internship Initiative, Educators in the Workplace Lunch and Learn program and Teachers Supply Closet. 
In addition to receiving the award at the conference, Lutz made an “Ignite” presentation titled “Education Matters! – Programs and Partnerships” at the conference, which bills itself as the largest gathering of economic developers in the world. 
“Ignite” is a 5-minute, 20-slide presentation that stimulates new thinking and provokes action. Lutz’s presentation will be posted on YouTube.
The funding for The Roane Alliance’s Education Matters! initiative — a “Best Practice” program, according to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce — was cut as of June 30 of this year.
To help fill the void, the following have committed $5,000 each annually to keep the program going: Roane State Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Harriman, Roane County United Way, The Roane Alliance, Roane County Chamber of Commerce, Roane County Industrial Development Board and the Roane County Public Schools.
Other major donors include Volkswagen Group of America, First Bank of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Roane Metals/Roane Transportation.
For more information about the Education Matters! program and to view the Ignite presentation (when available), go to www.educationmatters2Roane.org
The Roane Alliance is Roane County’s economic development organization and consists of both public and private organizations, including the Roane County Chamber of Commerce, the Roane County Industrial Development Board, and the Roane County Visitors’ Bureau.