Chattanooga State Community College was the recent recipient of a $738,525 Tennessee Coronavirus Relief Fund Grant awarded through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to help defray the expenses of delivering instructional support to students at the main campus, as well as at the Dayton and Kimball sites.

Chattanooga State found that more than 1,100 students, including 71 percent from the credit side and 29 percent from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Chattanooga State [TCAT], did not have adequate technology equipment to complete their spring courses.

The College loaned devices to students for the spring and summer terms, and will continue to loan devices to students through the fall. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts 2018, 20 percent of households in counties served by the College do not have a computer and 30 percent do not have a broadband internet subscription.

For the distressed counties in the service area, the percentage of households without an internet connection climbs to almost 40 percent.

This $738,525 grant supports the technology needs of students and of online class delivery this fall. Purchases supported by this grant include computers, monitors, laptops and accessories, computer backpacks, and 100 hotspots that will help to provide critical internet access. In addition, the grant will outfit 30 labs and classrooms across the main campus and at instructional sites in Kimball and Dayton with BlendFlex Learning/telepresence equipment, which will allow students to attend class remotely, but have the same experience as if they were physically in the classroom or lab.

The BlendFlex equipment will establish distance-learning opportunities at the Dayton and Kimball sites that include a full online presence. Involving more than 55 classes, services will also include academic advising, financial aid sessions, academic success coaching, as well as interventions and teacher meetings. Additional benefits will allow the community to be linked with Chattanooga State’s main campus in order to see and hear guest speakers, authors, and scholars’ presentations. In total, approximately 3,100 students will benefit from distance learning courses.

By providing students access to instruction and support services through technology, it is expected that student retention and completion rates will increase.