The installment of new literacy software in the city’s rec centers could “flood the city with opportunity,” officials say.

Lurone Jennings, youth and family development administrator for the city of Chattanooga, addressed more than 250 workers Friday, who had gathered to learn training for Lexia-a personalized online literacy program that will be gradually installed in 20 locations across the city. Funding for the programs has been provided through grants from local groups, including the Lebovitz Family Trust and the United Way.

Along with city officials, leaders from United Way, the Front Porch Alliance and the Bethlehem Center also attended.


In brief remarks, Jennings said he hoped the program would help encourage youth to be “difference makers” in their communities. Jennings, who most recently led programs at the Bethlehem Center before accepting a position in the administration of Mayor Andy Berke, said he had seen the program deliver results during his five years overseeing it.

“We seen some major changes in our young people’s lives,” Jennings said. “We’ve seen them improve reading skills; we’ve seen their self-esteem increase; we’ve seen them have a better outlook on life when they’re capable of reading, competing, excelling and being successful. We felt like it was something we needed to look at and help others consider.”

Brian Smith, public relations coordinator for the Department of Youth and Family Development, said that with the goal of having 75 computers in community centers by the end of the year, the department was asking for businesses and foundations that may have computers to donate to the project. Minimum requirements of the computers are 2GB of RAM, dual-core processor, 80 GB hard drive and 166 MHz speed.