Tenn Under 10 Logo

Celebrating Tennessee’s youngest learners on their literacy journey from cradle to career


Through the “Tenn Under 10” initiative, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) is selecting 10 Tennessee 3rd graders to serve as GELF’s literacy ambassadors and receive a post-secondary education scholarship, based on their ability to overcome obstacles along their literacy journey from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”


  • Collect literacy stories from children and families to raise awareness of GELF’s mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee.
  • Celebrate and reward children in becoming passionate readers, inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Encourage more children to become engaged, active readers by showcasing their peers as role models from different Tennessee communities, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Who qualifies for “Tenn Under 10?”

“Tenn Under 10” candidates are Tennessee third grade students from communities across the state who have overcome obstacles on their literacy journey. For example, candidates may have experienced struggles in learning to read, lack of access to books, resources, or a literacy-rich environment, learning disability, etc.

Specific qualifications include:

  • Candidate must be a Tennessee 3rd grader during the 2022-2023 academic school year, enrolled in a Tennessee public or charter school.
  • Application must be submitted by school or school district by January 30, 2023.
  • Candidate must have faced and overcome an obstacle relating to or impeding their literacy development or access to literacy-rich resources or environment.
  • Candidate should exhibit the four key values of “Tenn Under 10.”

Four Key Values

Tenaciously driven
Eager to read
Noticeably growing
Nonstop learner

How it Works

Tennessee public school districts and elementary schools are given the opportunity to nominate a child by submitting an online application on their behalf. There is not a limit on the number of children each school and/or district can nominate, but there will be an emphasis on candidates from different communities across the state during the selection process. For privacy, candidates’ personally identifiable information will be redacted during the review process. Following final selections, all nominees and respective nominating parties will be notified. If selected, each honoree’s caregiver/parent will be given access to create a TNStars College Savings 529 Program scholarship account, a post-secondary savings program managed by the Tennessee Department of Treasury. A scholarship of at least $1,000, provided by GELF, will be deposited in their account and invested until used following the student’s high school graduation or GED equivalent.

Owl wearing graduation cap and holding a diploma


Application Open

Nov 1, 2022–Jan 30, 2023

Selection Process

February 2023

Honorees Notified

March 2023

Public Announcement

April 2023

For more information, or directions on how to apply, email us at [email protected].