On Wednesday June 5, United Way of Greater Knoxville (UWGK) held a thank you breakfast with over 200 participants gathered to honor the champions in our community that give back to our Knoxville families through our Community Schools strategy. Throughout Knox county, there are 15 schools with a dedicated Community School coordinator, these schools are more than centers for learning; they provide comprehensive support that empowers students, educators and families. 

Chrystal Armstrong Brown, Chief Impact Officer of UWGK, said in her opening remarks at the breakfast, “Nothing we celebrate today could have been possible without the time, talent, and treasure dedicated by the champions in this room.”

This 2023-2024 year, we worked in 15 schools and served over 6,400 students. This impact was possible thanks to the support of our 393 donors, volunteers and community supporters that champion our work. From offering food security support to after school programs and vocational exposures, our partners create opportunities for our local children and families.

When talking about the success of this appreciation event, Adam Fritts, Director of Community Schools at UWGK shared how proud he was to celebrate the impact of this initiative “It was humbling to see so many of our partners in one room together. Every person in that space has committed to helping their neighbors and lifting up Knox County. Together, we championed new programs, events, opportunities and more. Their impact is felt now and will continue to be felt as these children grow and build a brighter future.”

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and COO of the City of Knoxville David Brace spoke of their gratitude for the Knoxville community’s philanthropic support of students and families in need. Committed supporters make programs like Community Schools possible, putting their financial, professional, and educational resources to work enriching Knoxville’s schools.

Jon Rysewyk, Superintendent of Knox County Schools, highlighted the collaborative spirit that has driven the initiative’s success. “From the beginning, we’ve said that we can’t do this work alone, that we’ll need other partners from the community. Everyone in this room,” he said, “has answered that call.”

During the program, we also invited a principal, teacher, parent and student to share about their unique experiences with Community Schools. 

Emilio, a rising 6th grader at West View Elementary, shared his enthusiasm for the arts and crafts programming he has enjoyed with friends. His mother, Esmeralda, expressed her appreciation for being able to work assisting students with their homework. “It’s incredible seeing them get more and more confident,” she said, “and being able to help them on their academic journey.”

Cindy Sanford, Principal of Beaumont Magnet Academy, praised the UWGK’s spearheading of Community Schools: “To know that Knox County has partnered with such a great organization to make sure our families and our students are taken care of outside of academia is really important for us.”

Click here to learn more about the work of Community Schools and reach out to us at communityschools@unitedwayknox.org to get involved.