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Rural Matters

Feb 29, 2020

Michelle chats with Sheila Boyington, President and CEO of Thinking Media and the founder of Learning Blade and Bradley Jackson, President and CEO of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Tennessee Manufacturers Association, about the Career Awareness and Preparation Systems (CAPS) initiative, an innovative program in Tennessee that addresses “brain drain” issues by working with local businesses in educating students about available jobs in the state.  Too often Boyington notes, we push students into four-year education programs that result is those students not returning to their local communities. The collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce has enabled Tennessee to become the first state in the county to develop this kind of job and career awareness initiative. According to Jackson, this program is a game changer that helps to meet the workforce challenge in rural areas, where up to 70 percent of the students in some areas are not attending college. Boyington also discusses the “heart and soul” of the initiative, which are the lesson plans that enable teachers to talk about the highest growing job opportunities and careers in the state now and in the future, aligning them with the current educational standards in the state. The “secret sauce,” she says, is that information about local employers in integrated into those lesson plans through the collaboration with the Chamber. This ep9isode is sponsored by the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS), FRS,

For more information on the Tennessee CAPS program, visit