RE:START – The Center for Adult Education Celebrating 50 Years of Community Service

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Chattanooga, TN – April 15, 2010 – RE:START - The Center for Adult Education will celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 13 at 6 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre with a moving presentation by Erin Gruwell, president of the Freedom Writers Foundation and a nationally recognized teacher whose inspiring story was captured in the major motion picture, Freedom Writers.

Nothing could have prepared Erin Gruwell for her first day of teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Her students were teenagers living in a racially divided urban community and were already hardened by first-hand exposure to gang violence, juvenile detention, and drugs. By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, Gruwell transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to rethink rigid beliefs about themselves and others, to reconsider daily decisions, and to rechart their futures. With Erin’s steadfast support, her students shattered stereotypes to become critical thinkers, aspiring college students, and citizens for change. They even dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers” — in homage to civil rights activists “The Freedom Riders” — and published a book.

“These same stories exist in Chattanooga, which is why Gruwell is the ideal speaker for this community-wide event,” said Lori Hairrell, executive director of RE:START. “She has an amazing ability to convert apathy into action and her message will inspire and resonate with all those who deserve a second chance.”

RE:START’s goal is to make this event accessible to as many people in this community as possible, with a specific focus on teens and young adults. To help attract a broad and diverse audience, event sponsors will serve as benefactors for area non-profits and organizations serving at-risk youth. Sponsors will receive a block of tickets to the event, which will be allocated to specific agencies designated by the sponsors.

"Erin Gruwell is a champion educator and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to hear her astounding message,” said Frank Schriner, regional president of First Tennessee, a lead sponsor of this event. “Her real-life experiences are uplifting and inspiring, and her second-chance attitude is one our entire community should embrace."

Other sponsors to date include a presenting media sponsorship by Brewer Broadcasting, Chattem, Unum, Benwood Foundation, Pannell Mechanical, Inc., and WRCB Channel 3. Individual and group general admission tickets may be purchased by calling (423) 757-5050 or visiting: Tickets to the event are $15. Groups of 20 or more will receive a discounted rate of $10 per ticket.

RE:START is an adult education service dedicated to the idea that educated adults have greater economic opportunity, are less vulnerable to those who would take advantage, are less likely to live in poverty, and make more productive citizens and better parents, therefore making Chattanooga a better community.

Started in 1959 and known as C.A.L.M. (Chattanooga Area Literacy Movement) and “Reading Education for Adult Development” (R.E.A.D. Chattanooga, Inc.), RE:START has a proven track record of success and endurance. Having provided support and services to thousands of people over the years, Re:Start is poised to tackle the complicated issue of literacy and under-resourced learners in a strategic and positive way.

For more information about RE:START or the 50th Anniversary Celebration, contact us.

To read more about Ms. Gruwell, click here.


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