About The Niswonger Foundation
The Niswonger Foundation was established in 2001 to make a positive and sustainable difference in education in Northeast Tennessee. This dream was envisioned by Scott M. Niswonger, majority shareholder of Landair Transport, Inc. and Chairman Emeritus of Forward Air Corporation. These companies, founded by Mr. Niswonger, were the first two Greeneville-based companies to be taken public in the history of Greene County, Tennessee. Jointly, the companies have combined annual revenue of over $700 million dollars and employ over 4000 people.
With the success of his two companies, the philosophy of "Learn, Earn and Return" was created. Using the innovative model of now having a private, for-profit logistics company, Landair Transport, support a not-for-profit educational foundation, the goal of bringing rigorous, relevant, and cost effective programs to public education became a mission. Fundamental to the success of the Niswonger Foundation has been a clear focus on removing constraints to educational innovation and problem solving, thus allowing local school systems to better provide for student needs. By building school programs that are research-based and sustainable, the Niswonger Foundation has become a recognized voice for educational reform in the State of Tennessee, while nurturing the next generation of leaders.
Here are descriptions of the two programs that are the basis for the Foundation’s work:
The School Partnership program has provided support for over 30 school programs from grades Pre-K to 12. Our partnerships have been designed for the specific challenges of rural education. Recently, this program began to focus on supporting the high schools in our region with a plan for preparing students to be college or career ready. This effort gained national attention resulting in the receipt of an "Investing in Innovation" grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
We know of no other Scholarship and Leadership program like ours in the United States. Niswonger Scholars are selected through a nomination process that seeks to identify the region’s best and brightest future leaders. They are given the opportunity to attend the college or university that will best prepare them for success in their field of study, while participating in our four-year leadership program. What makes our program unique is that these students commit to returning, within seven years, to Northeast Tennessee to work in their chosen career one year for each year they receive our scholarship. It is our desire that by enabling these students to pursue their academic passion and by cultivating their leadership abilities, they will return to their "roots" and serve.
The Niswonger Foundation expands its philosophy of "Learn, Earn and Return" beyond Northeast Tennessee through involvement in numerous statewide educational initiatives. Examples include our program to provide high quality, affordable e-Learning opportunities; online training courses for school board members; an academy for prospective superintendents; and a partnership with the State Department of Education and the Tennessee Principals Association to offer principals online professional development coursework. The Niswonger Foundation is a charter member of the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education's (SCORE) Rural Education Network, which is a coalition of leaders from throughout Tennessee and the nation who are committed to improving public education in rural communities. The Niswonger Foundation proudly sponsors the Tennessee Teacher, Principal, and Supervisor of the Year Awards. These leaders then "travel the state" sharing their "best practices."
And lastly, the Foundation shares a percentage of our operating funds for grants to other not-for-profit agencies for programs that support the Foundation’s mission: "To create opportunities for individual and community growth through education and other sustainable projects."
"And with all your getting, get understanding"
Scott Niswonger's Bio
The Niswonger Foundation staff includes our President and Founder, Scott M. Niswonger, Executive Vice President,Nancy Dishner, Office Manager, Kathy O’Dell, and Executive Assistant, Barbara Bates. Our staff members have over 90 years of combined experience working for educational organizations.
"My greatest source of pride is that our Foundation team members have an unbelievable passion for our work and are constantly seeking the next challenge."
Scott M. Niswonger
President and Founder
Meet Our Staff