On Wednesday, May 29, Chattanooga 2.0 hosted its inaugural “Viable Pathway to Prosperity in Welding” signing day, a groundbreaking partnership with Chattanooga State Community College, Hamilton County Department of Education, American Welding Society, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, ASTEC and Miller Industries, LLC

18 high school graduates from Brainerd, East Ridge, Tyner and Howard High Schools publicly signed and officially committed to a fully funded training course in welding. This momentous event marks the beginning of a transformative journey for these students, who will receive a $250 stipend, free lunch, and graduate debt-free—all in an effort to promote their success in this pathway.  

As participants in the Viable Pathway to Prosperity, these students will not only learn the fundamentals of welding but also develop essential interview skills and career advancement strategies. At the end of their training, these students will have the potential to earn over $12 million in combined lifetime earnings. 

According to their mission, by creating these viable pathways for Hamilton County public school students, Chattanooga 2.0 aims to “remove barriers and offer debt-free tracks” to quality jobs and prosperous careers in our local economy. 

Pathways Fellow for Chattanooga 2.0, Mo Baptiste, presented the certificates to the incoming students, offering words of encouragement and highlighting the impact of their families’ support. 

“Think about the idea of human beings being able to manipulate metal and put it together,” Bapsiste said. “It has been one of the greatest breakthroughs in human history and you all are the next in line to do it. Thank you for being the future of welders and infrastructure.”  

Chattanooga 2.0 is not stopping at welding. The organization is working to create 10 new career pathways for Hamilton County students by 2027 to prepare them for high-demand jobs in the area. 

This initiative empowers our youth with valuable skills and plays a critical role in strengthening our local workforce. By equipping students with the training and resources they need to succeed in high-demand fields, Chattanooga 2.0 is addressing the skills gap and ensuring that local businesses have access to a pool of well-prepared, highly skilled workers.