BlueSky Tennessee Institute
BlueSky Tennessee Institute is a partnership between BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee (BCBST), East Tennessee State University (ETSU), Hamilton County Schools, and the state of Tennessee. BlueSky was initiated by BCBST CEO Dr. JD Hickey because of BlueCross’ need for a stronger pipeline of IT talent and the larger community's need for stronger high-wage career pipelines.
Through a 27-month, year-round accelerated program in information science, computer science, and cybersecurity, including paid work-based learning experiences, students earn a bachelor’s degree with the ultimate goal of job placements with BCBST and a $50,000 starting salary. BlueSky focuses recruitment efforts at priority schools in Hamilton County that previously received investments and support from the Gates Foundation because of poor college persistence rates. At present, nearly 50% of BlueSky students come from these high priority schools. BlueSky has finished its first year and has retained 94% of its original students; moreover, the program has welcomed a 2nd cohort bringing our total number to 60 students. The team is working on a plan to scale this opportunity to serve more students moving forward.