Education Matters 2 Roane County!

The goal of the Roane Alliance’s Education Matters! Initiative
is to ensure every child in Roane County goes on to a post-secondary school…and does well when they do.

To read more about
this award
click here

The Roane Alliance launched "Education Matters!" in 2009 and it has become a highly effective coalition of programs and partnerships. The funding for The Roane Alliance’s Education Matters! initiative – a ‘Best Practice’ program, according to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce – is being cut as of June 30, of this year.  The Alliance has kicked off an Education Matters! Fund Drive to raise $75,000 annually to keep the program going in Roane County - serving its citizens, and businesses, and future workforce.

This program was selected as a Gold Award recipient by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for Excellence in Economic Development.  Presented at the 2013 IEDC Annual Conference, the award recognizes 'the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders.'

Its easy to become a partner!

Levels of partnership

1) Credit cards over the phone: 865-376-2093
2) Make checks payable to:
The Roane Alliance,
1209 N. Kentucky St. Kingston, TN 37763

Founding Partner: $5,000
Platinum Partner: $2,500
Gold Partner: $1,000
Silver Partner: $500
Community Partner: Whatever you can afford

To learn more about the Education Matters! programs and partnerships, view our online Education Matters! book.

Education Matters! Partners 

Founding Partners

  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Harriman
  • Roane State Community College
  • Roane County Schools
  • Roane County United Way
  • Roane County Chamber of Commerce
  • The Roane Alliance
  • Industrial Development Board
  • Brown-Forman 
Platinum Partners
  • Volkswagen Group of America
  • Roane Metals / Roane Transportation
Gold Partners
  • First Bank of Tennessee
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Silver Partner
  • Roane County News
  • Jennings + Associates
  • Robert Kite 
Community Partners
  • Jim Leitnaker
  • Russell Jenkins
  • Gary Aytes
  • Leslie Henderson
  • Johnny Griffin -Griffin Insurance
  • Debbie Alexander-Davis and Bobby Davis
  • Lynda E. Lynch
  • State TN Scholars
  • Harriman Lion's Club
  • Roane County Kiwanis Club
  • Allen Lutz
  • Family and Community Education-Tennessee Eastern Region

"Not having a high school diploma can put you at a severe disadvantage in terms of finding a good job or finding a career," says Allen Lutz, Education and Workforce Development Specialist, "However, a high school diploma should not be the end of education for most people.  The fastest growing career fields with above-average earnings require post-secondary education, either training at schools like Roane State Community College and the Tennessee Technology Centers, or a bachelor's or advanced degree."

Education Matters! activities have occurred throughout year, across the county, and with all age groups to reinforce the Education Matters! message...

Roane County High School Career Day-
The Chamber's Education and Economic and Community Development Committees worked together with the County Schools to host an annual High School Career Exploration Day.  Since 2009, the month of May has included the Career Day.  More than 550 Roane County high school juniors come dressed and ready with resumes, handshakes, notepads and questions to meet with representatives from more than 50 different businesses to talk about their future. Working closely with the Chamber Committees and also sponsoring the event are Roane County Schools, Roane State Community College (where the fair is held), and the Tennessee Technology Center at Harriman (which provides students to serve as guides for the event). The businesses participating are brimming with compliments about our students. The career day continues to be a stunning success and the next Career Day is already being planned.  Click here to learn more about the High School Career Day.


RoaneAchieves / tnAchieves / Tennessee Promise– Tennessee Promise, the new state scholarship program, has picked up the mission of helping Tennessee's graduating high school students rise to the challenge of obtaining post-secondary education. Working with tnAchieves, graduating seniors may enter a two-year college program at Tennessee's Community Colleges or Colleges of Applied Technology to obtain a two-year degree, certification, or license.  Approximately 60% of the students entering the Tennessee Promise program are first generation college students. The Roane Alliance, through its Education Matters! initiative recruits mentors to help our students transition from high school to college. 

Mentors are critical to the success of Tennessee Promise.  Every year since the tnAchieves program in 2011, Roane County has achieved it mentor recruiting goal.  As a mentor, you will receive the necessary training to be successful.  You choose the high school you want to support.  The average time commitment of a mentor is only 15 hours from mentor training through completion of the students' first semester in college. Please, sign up online to become a mentor at

Allen Lutz, our Education and Workforce Development Specialist, has been a mentor since 2011, his most memorable moment as a mentor is when one of his students, a freshman at Roane State, came to him and said, “Mr. Lutz, thank you. If not for you, I wouldn’t been here today. No matter what the roadblock, you wouldn’t let me quit. Thank you!”

You too can be a positive force in the life of a student, your contribution has the potential to affect your students, their current family, and their future family for generations to come.  Be a mentor, change a life for the better!

Presentations and Community Festival Participation - To get the Education Matters! message out, presentations are made throughout the year to hundreds of community leaders who are members of civic organizations, such as Civitan, Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Clubs, as well as the current Class of Leadership Roane County and Youth Leadership. Additionally, an Education Matters! booth is at community festivals in Harriman, Kingston, Oliver Springs, and Rockwood. Thousands of residents (children, parents, and grandparents) have visited the Education Matters! booth to answer questions about the value of education, or read and rank four posters that underscore the value of education. Many adults used the occasion to discuss with their children how important it is to graduate from high school and continue their education to achieve career goals. Additionally, to emphasize the importance of early reading skills, the Alliance signed-up many children to receive free books from the Imagination Library.


The Tennessee Scholars Program - The Chamber Education Committee, in conjunction with the Roane County Schools, recognize more than a hundred graduating Roane County seniors ieach year as Tennessee Scholars at a breakfast event in May. The students receive medallions and have a special Tennessee Scholars seal on their diplomas. Five students, one from each of the five Roane County high schools, receive Tennessee Scholars scholarships to Roane State Community College. Additionally, all Tennessee Scholars attending the Tennessee Technology Center in Harriman are eligible to receive scholarships. The Scholars program provides incentives for high school students to take more rigorous coursework, maintain high attendance, and participate in community service. Click here to learn who are the 2016 Tennessee Scholars Graduates. 

Educators in the Workplace Lunch & Learn Program - Since 2009, this annual program has provided Innovation Valley educators the opportunity to receive a little schooling themselves during the summer. Educators from Blount, Knox, Loudon and Roane Counties, and Maryville and Oak Ridge, visit business to learn about what career opportunities are available in our business, but also to learn about what skills and attitude employers look for in their employees and job applicants. The visits underscored the critical role of technology in business and emphasized how important it is for students to take math and science classes in high school to prepare for careers in the world today.
          The value of the program is summarized by a high school teacher saying, "This has been helpful in educating me about opportunities for my students. I liked hearing about what employers are looking for in entry-level applicants. I am constantly telling my students how important attitude and teamwork is in the business world."
          Businesses within Roane County that have participated in this program are:  Dienamic Tooling Systems; Energy Solutions; Kimble Chase Life Science and Research; Materials and Chemistry Laboratory, Inc. (MCLinc); NetShape Technologies (formerly known as Capstan Tennessee); Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Proton Power, Roane Medical Center; Thermo Fisher Scientific; Toho Tenax America; and TVA Kingston Fossil Plant..

Teachers Supply Closet - Each new school year since 2003 has started with the annual Teachers' Supply Closet.  The Education Committee of the Chamber of Commerce initiated this event and its sponsors have include the Chamber of Commerce, Roane State Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Harriman, and Roane County United Way. 

In 2015, the Roane County United Way has taken the lead in planning the Teachers' Supply Closet. However, it still has the same sponsors active in ensuring its success.  The Closet receives thousands in cash donations, which was used to purchase supplies, as well has items donated by businesses and individuals. Held at Roane State Community College in September, Roane County teachers from the elementary, middle, high schools, as well as the education center, shop for free to receive much needed supplies.


Partnerships –Education Matters! is a coalition of programs and partnerships: Roane County Schools, Roane State Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Harriman, King University, Roane the Imagination Library, Children’s Reading Foundation of the Tennessee Valley, and the Roane Writers’ Group. 

Volunteers - Since the beginning of the Education Matters! initiative in 2009, one of its objectives has been to recruit volunteers and have them passionately connect with members of our community and deliver the message that Education Matters!  Our volunteers help in many ways and at many events... click to learn more. 

EM! Essay Contest - "Emphasizing the value of education must happen at all grade levels in school," says Lutz, "so we participated in Career Day at Walnut Hill Elementary School in Harriman. The school's 4th and 5th graders learned that continuing their education can open the door to "what I want to be when I grow up." Students also participated in an Alliance sponsored essay contest, "Why Education Matters to Me" and the two winners received a $50 U.S. Savings Bond at their school awards assembly. This essay contest grew into the Annual Student Writing Contest sponsored by the Roane Writers' Group.

Industrial Trades Opportunities Brochure - The Chamber Education and Economic and Community Development Committees worked together to create an Industrial Trades Opportunities Brochure geared toward reviving student interest in critical jobs for our local industries in the professional trades. Roane County high school students participated in focus groups in developing the brochure and the brochure continues to be distributed to high school guidance counselors in Roane County. Click here for the brochure.

"We are a global community and our children are in competition with hundreds of thousands of college-educated Indians and Chinese, not just students from other parts of the US," says Leslie Henderson, President/CEO of the Roane Alliance, in explaining the reason this new initiative, "Education Matters!" was launched. "The jobs they need to prepare for are no longer available to those with few skills. Even manufacturing positions now require a year or two of post-secondary training. The world is high-tech now and we have to get prepared for it."

To schedule an Education Matters! group presentation, please contact Allen Lutz at The Roane Alliance at  or (865) 376-2093.