Recipients of $175 Million in Pilot Implementation Grants Prepare to Begin Work –

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NASHVILLE – Today, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), in partnership with Governor Bill Lee and the Families First Community Advisory Board, recognized the 7 collaborative groups selected for $175 million in Implementation Grants to further the Department’s vision of fundamentally changing the way low-income families are served in Tennessee. Soon, each public-private collaborative group will kick off pilot projects aimed at addressing barriers faced by low-income, TANF-eligible Tennesseans. The Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative is a 3-year effort, with each of the 7 pilot projects funded through $25 million Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants.
Each pilot project has a different strategy in how services will be carried out, and their activities will be measured using a universal assessment tool. The intention of the pilot initiative is to explore various service interventions that set low-income Tennesseans on a path of reduced dependency on government funded social service programs, while increasing their capacity toward upward mobility and self-sufficiency.
“There are fundamental flaws in the social services safety net that have for too long counted the administration of services as a measure of success,” said TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter. “The pilot projects that we celebrate today could demonstrate viable solutions and promising practices that address the flaws and better position those we collectively serve to thrive rather than survive.”
The aspects of each pilot initiative are described below:
The implementation of the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative is only one component of the TANF Opportunity Act, legislation that passed in 2021.  The TANF Opportunity Act offers a pathway to self-sufficiency for TANF recipients, provides for an investment in community partnerships through both the spend down of the TANF reserve and plans for recurring dollars, while also strengthening protections against fraud, waste, and abuse. Since the Tennessee Opportunity Act went into effect, the Families First Community Advisory Board has been established, Families First (the state’s TANF program) recipients have received increases in their monthly cash assistance, and community grants totaling more than $100 million will be awarded to 44 organizations.
Details on the Tennessee Opportunity Act, the state’s plan for effectively utilizing TANF funds, and more information on Tennessee Opportunity Act components can be viewed on the TDHS website here. View previous announcements regarding the Tennessee Opportunity Act on the TDHS news page.
Click here to learn more about how the Tennessee Department of Human Services is working to Transform Tennessee Together.


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