Great Schools Partnership

Great School Partnership

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912 S. Gay St. L210

Knoxville, TN 37902


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Knoxville’s Great Schools ranked 13th in the nation

(Knoxville Daily Sun – KNOXVILLE) – The only study of U.S. K-12 education foundations, “Stepping Up: The Top K-12 Education Foundations in the Nation,” announced Knoxville’s Great Schools has been ranked 13th in the nation. Great Schools was the top-ranked education foundation in Tennessee.

“Stepping Up” evaluated eight key performance categories to determine the ranking – annual revenues, revenues per student, total assets, assets per student, investment income, total program expenses, expenses per student and human capital (volunteers).

“This is only one data point of course, but it is an important one,” said Buzz Thomas, president of the Great Schools Partnership. “The success of Great School can be attributed to a visionary board that is committed to building the best school system in the south and a dedicated staff that puts the interests of children ahead of their own.”

Along with ranking thirteenth overall, Great Schools Partnership also placed in the top 25 in four of the key performance categories. The purpose of the Stepping Up Study is to advocate the importance of K- 12 education foundations while recognizing those that do it best. The study reviews K-12 education foundations in the top 100 largest school districts by population in the nation and pulls information directly from the foundations’ 990 filings with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Great Schools Partnership maintains programs such as Community Schools, Parents as Teachers, Targeted Pre-K, TAP, AVID, CODEtn and New Teacher Mentoring and Induction. With continued growth and support, Great Schools Partnership plans to initiate a series of new programs and partnerships to further assist Knox County Schools.

“Based on the ‘Stepping Up’ rankings, we can see that Tennessee education foundations are positively effecting public education, and that deserves national recognition,” said Dewey Caruthers, president of Dewey & Associates and author of the study.

Published October 17, 2014

See the study in full here



Annual Report
 (Click Above to View Report)

“Accountability” is the new watchword in education. As frustrating as that may sometimes be, our schools are the better for it. As a child of the fifties and sixties, I grew up at a time when “made in Japan” was a joke, and “made in China” didn’t even exist. Today, nobody is laughing. Instead, our teachers, administrators and board members are working overtime to ensure that our students graduate from high school ready for college or career in today’s competitive world.

The mission of the Great Schools Partnership is to assist Knox County in its quest to develop the best large school system in the Southeast. As a “catalyst, think tank, incubator, start-up funder and operational partner” for our local schools, we, too, must be accountable. To that end, we are pleased to attach our annual operational and financial report. As you peruse the report, you will notice key outcome measures for each partnership project. You can evaluate our performance based upon those measures.

Credit for the accomplishments listed in this report goes first to our Board of Directors. Just scan the list and ask yourself: How many mayors, county commissioners, college deans and presidents, business leaders, and community icons – all of whom have busy careers and heavy responsibilities – would spend this much time working to develop great schools? The answer is, of course, not many. That’s why I’m so optimistic about Knoxville’s future. Our leaders are serious about great schools. Credit also goes to our dedicated staff and a cadre of teachers and collaborating partners who have decided to invest their lives in something that really matters.

Enjoy the report.

Buzz Thomas


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