July 25, 2019

2019 STAR Award Winners


The State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Judges Panel – comprising state legislators, legislative staff and policy experts – reviewed application materials and presentations of the five finalists and voted online to select two winners of the 2019 STAR award: Kentucky’s MyPURPOSE and Tennessee Reconnect.


2019 STAR Award Kentucky
Kentucky Personnel Cabinet: MyPURPOSE

In 2017, the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet established a talent management strategy and vision to affect how the Commonwealth attracts, recruits, and retains talent. Launched in 2018, MyPURPOSE provides a visually engaging portal for external job applicants, the ability to quickly apply for jobs via mobile or desktop applications or through a LinkedIn profile, and a means for state agencies to customize job postings by including videos with job posts.

MyPURPOSE also created an internal portal for state employees, which provides access to promotional opportunities and professional development. State employees can take advantage of a catalog of more than 1,400 curated courses for personal and professional growth, at no cost. Since going live in July 2018, MyPURPOSE has seen:

  • 74,000+ registered users (candidates and employees),
  • 207,000+ training registrations/completions, and
  • 2,500 candidates hired.

2019 STAR Award Kentucky
Tennessee Higher Education Commission: Tennessee Reconnect

Tennessee Reconnect is an initiative to help more adults return to higher education by providing a last-dollar scholarship that pays any tuition and fees charged at community colleges that are not covered by other sources of grant aid. These scholarship awards, on average, are approximately $1,000 per student.

In fall 2013, former Governor Bill Haslam announced his “Drive to 55,” with the goal that 55 percent of Tennesseans would hold a postsecondary credential by the year 2025. At the time, 36 percent of Tennesseans met this benchmark. Following the success of programs serving younger age groups, updates and modifications were made to Tennessee’s free college framework to serve adults.

Tennessee Reconnect was developed in response to the needs of employers across the state. In focus groups, they stated that there were numerous job vacancies that could not be filled, as applicants for these jobs did not have the appropriate training or skills, particularly in technical fields. With this scholarship program, Tennesseans of all ages can earn the relevant, marketable credentials necessary to succeed in the labor market. Since implementation, state-wide postsecondary degree attainment has increased to 43 percent.