Beginning in 2016, World Savvy began to explore new regions of the country; we were eager to understand how our work should adapt to impact communities beyond the urban core, and how our model can effectively support education stakeholders and champions working for change in these rural regions, or ‘communities in transition’.
With support from the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, World Savvy activated our first regional “hub” in East Tennessee in 2017, to build inclusive, adaptive learning environments for young people that can be sustained over time. This hub- and those that follow- will serve as a laboratory for learning about the application of this work in rural areas, and as a springboard for future growth and expansion of the work.
We selected East Tennessee — and specifically, the 33 counties surrounding Knoxville, TN — as our inaugural region for expansion, because of the special characteristics it shares in common with other ‘communities in transition’ that were well positioned for partnership, such as:
- It is a historically homogeneous community undergoing demographic shift and transition (ethnic, cultural, religious diversification);
- It is an area where the local impact of economic globalization is felt acutely (job loss and a gap in retraining capability);
- These are populations that may not have had exposure to global competence as a framing for learning/thinking in mainstream education, or where proximity to cultural differences and global engagement is new and potentially unsettling;
- There are existing, strong, local ‘anchor institutions’ that are trusted, engaged community actors (university or community college);
- Within the education sphere, it is home to committed ‘cultural insiders’ who will champion the work in the community and ensure sustainability.