The mission of The Knoxville Area Urban League’s Start Smart Workforce Program is to advance workforce diversity with significant gains in economic mobility, social equity, and inclusion for all adults. Our strategy is to create gainful opportunities and access for adults to acquire industry-recognized training that is a pathway to sustainable employment.

Start Smart Action Goals Are:

  • To advocate self-sufficiency and empowerment by providing industry-recognized career readiness training and building workforce development relationships with employers and other programs.
  • To achieve greater outcomes by partnering and working with employers for adults to acquire sustainable employment through the process of navigating viable career options with opportunities for career mobility and advancement.
  • To strengthen creating a diverse workforce by expanding equal opportunities for unemployed, underemployed, career changing, and re-entering adults to employment and access to affordable housing resulting in building financial stability and generational wealth.
  • To offer basic life skills, job readiness and employability classes that allows adults to attain competencies that prepare for a successful transition into the workplace or more secondary training.

Start Smart Workforce Program: Begin Where You Are…Think Bigger!

Start Smart provides services to both employers and individuals to fill the gap between the skills employers want and the skills job seekers need to become a valued worker. Start Smart offers services to entry level, mid-level, and advanced degreed individuals. Our aim is to prepare adults for position advancements and career mobility by serving as a threshold for job readiness, occupational training and connections to employers who are building a diverse well-trained 21st century workforce. Start Smart is comprised of five targeted program areas which include Start Smart Job Readiness for adults 25+ years of age, ELEVATE for young men adults18 – 24 years of age and STARS for young women 18 – 24 years of age, RISE Reentry for justice involved adults 18+ years of age and CrossOver for adults 18+ years of age who have lost their job due to COVID-19 related issues.


Start Smart Employer Services:

  • Applicant Prescreening of Entry Level to Highly Skilled Professional Candidates & *YouScience (career/attitude) Career Assessment
  • Set-up & Host Hiring Fairs & Employer Related Events
  • Job Posting and Network Sharing
  • Applicant Assess to **WIN Career Readiness Training Certificate (Certifies Workplace Readiness)
  • Coming Soon – Professional Development Courses/Seminars *NEW

Start Smart Individual Services ( Eligibility is Open to All Adults in Knox, Anderson & Blount Counties) – All programs provide the following basic components.  

  • Career Coaching & Employment Navigation Assistance
  • Connection to Employment Opportunities & Industry-recognized Occupational Training
  • Job Readiness Includes *YouScience (career/attitude) assessments, basic skills training, workforce preparations and **WIN Career Readiness Training (occupational skills) Certification
  • Case Management & Follow-Up (after exit follow up within 180 days of the participant’s confirmed status of fulltime employment)
  • Wraparound Support Services (may include housing, transportation, childcare assistance, academic tutoring/adult education preparation, work clothes purchase within specified costs or a percentage of purchase amount and referrals to other community services)


*YouScience – Online assessment that measures performance of individual aptitudes and the ability to connect natural talents with real-world careers.

**WIN Career Readiness – Online career readiness tool that is career focused on the knowledge and skills need to succeed at work and in life. The WIN Assessment allows an individual to earn industry- recognized certificates that provide employers a better understanding of a candidate’s current skills. Areas are focused on Applied Math, Locating Information, Reading for Information, and soft skills employers want which include Communicating Effectively, Conveying Professionalism, Promoting Teamwork, and Collaboration, and Thinking Critically and Solving Problems.