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$25 Million Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative Grant Secured for the Region

A $25 million, three-year Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative Grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services has been awarded to the Frist Tennessee Development District Foundation.

The funding will enable the STRONG Accountable Care Community (ACC) to launch STRONG Families, a pilot program that will use a multi-pronged approach to increase economic mobility, self-sufficiency and well-being for low-income families in Northeast Tennessee.

Once launched, STRONG Families Northeast Tennessee will provide aid to families in the counties that comprise the FTDD as well as Cocke and Hamblen Counties. Through this initiative, 1,000 families, and an estimated 1,800 children, will have access to behavioral health services, direct financial investment and notably, a family partner to help guide families out of poverty. The innovative approach of providing a family partner will function as a bridge between families and resources.

Family partners will be trained in peer support methods and will be a cultural match for the families they serve, either through a lived experience of poverty or experience working with low-income individuals.

Families participating in the program will have access to a direct cash investment through their engagement in the UpTogether Community Platform, an online social networking platform that supports families connecting with each other to problem solve, build social capitol, and strengthen relationships within the community.

Behavioral health services will also be free for those participating in the program, offering another resource to help pull families toward economic vitality.

This grant, one of seven funded across the state, is the result of legislation sponsored by Senator Bo Watson and Representative David Hawk. In total, $175 Million dollars were awarded to serve low-income families. The funded pilots include:

  • Families Matter

  • The University of Memphis

  • Family & Children's Service

  • Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency

  • First Tennessee Development District Foundation

  • United Way of Greater Knoxville

  • Martha O'Bryan Center

For questions related to this announcement, please contact Mark Stevans,

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