CMT’S Empowering Education initiative partners with the College System of Tennessee to encourage residents to pursue higher education

CMT Empowering Education initiative

CMT, the leading country music and lifestyle channel, announced Wednesday that it is joining forces with TBR - The College System of Tennessee for a multi-city concert tour targeting rural areas of the state next spring to encourage Tennesseans to pursue higher education.

The partnership, announced at a conference of the system’s community and technical college presidents, aims to encourage more Tennesseans to attend college – whether to earn an academic degree or a technical or occupational degree or certificate – paving their way to successful careers that will benefit themselves and their families.

CMT’s “Empowering Education” initiative will offer four community colleges across the state the opportunity to receive additional support at a local level, including a free concert at each stop featuring country star Courtney Cole. The colleges will submit proposals to CMT about how they can use the Empowering Education concerts and resources to help bring prospective students – including adult learners – onto their campuses to introduce them to the many academic and career programs they offer. CMT will fully fund the costs of staging the events.

Tennessee needs more skilled workers, especially in rural areas where college-going rates typically are lower. Higher-wage jobs often require training or education beyond a high school diploma.

“We are absolutely delighted that CMT has chosen to partner with our community and technical colleges to build awareness of the importance of earning a degree or certificate, to learn the skills and knowledge required in today’s – and tomorrow’s -- workforce,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings.  “Through its Empowering Education initiative, CMT is putting its prestigious, global brand to work in encouraging Tennesseans of all ages – from high school students to adults without a post-high-school credential – to enroll in one of our many career, occupational or academic programs and build a better future for themselves and their families.”

“There’s a campus or teaching location in virtually every county, enrolling is easy, our on-campus counselors are there to help, and for most Tennesseans, it’s tuition-free,” Tydings said. “We’re grateful to CMT and Courtney Cole for this extremely generous support. And I’m excited about attending CMT’s concerts on our campuses next spring!”

“For the last four years CMT has partnered with community and technical colleges across the U.S., but now is an exciting time to embark on our first tour in our home state of Tennessee,” said Rachael Wall, CMT’s public affairs manager. “By focusing CMT Empowering Education efforts in Tennessee – we can highlight all the impressive new programs and scholarships available to those continuing their education and be a catalyst of change for the future workforce of the Volunteer State.”

The partnership is intended to amplify two important statewide initiatives -- “Tennessee Promise” and “Tennessee Reconnect” – which provide tuition-free community and technical college for new high school graduates and independent adults who lack a post-high-school certificate or degree. It also supports the state’s “Drive to 55”  mission to increase the number of Tennesseans with a post-high-school degree or certificate to 55 percent of the state’s population by 2025. Achieving that goal will require 800,000 more Tennesseans getting the training and skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

CMT’s Empowering Education community college initiative, the channel’s grassroots education campaign, was first announced in 2014 at the Clinton Global Initiative-America meeting. Working in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the campaign has experienced success hosting more than 30 events in 18 states, bringing star-power and helping put a face on education by highlighting success stories of students. Since 2014, the campaign has worked in some of the nation’s most economically-depressed regions to highlight the importance of earning a degree or certificate.


CMT Empowering Education is a comprehensive educational campaign that provides both an online resource,, and on-the-ground support to aid prospective students in overcoming the most commonly perceived obstacles to furthering education. The initiative is founded on education research and insights through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Inaugural advising partners for the CMT Empowering Education campaign included Achieving the Dream, the Association of Career and Technical Education, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Workforce and Economic Development at the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Skills Coalition and Skills for America's Future (the Aspen Institute).


CMT is the leading authority on country music and lifestyle, offering a mix of original series, music events and specials. CMT is everywhere its fans are including two cable channels (CMT and the 24-hour music channel, CMT Music), radio (CMT Radio), digital (CMT App, and social (CMT on Facebook, CMT on Instagram and CMT on Twitter). CMT is a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB). For more information, please visit CMT Press.


The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.