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UCDD/UCHRA Earns Planning Grant To Remodel Social Services In Region

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UCDD/UCHRA Earns Planning Grant To Remodel Social Services In Region

UCDD-UCHRA has been named one of 17 recipients of the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative planning grant.

Executive Director Mark Farley said the $450,000 grant could be the first step to becoming one of the six large award winners.

“What it’s going to do is allow us to have the man power for the next three months to develop a new social service model for the Upper Cumberland,” Farley said. “That’s ultimately what we are applying for.”

Farley said once the model is complete, the agency will prepare for a presentation to the state towards April. The planning grant funds the efforts to ultimately earn a three-year, up to $25 million grant.

“That will give us an opportunity to really change the way things are done in the Upper Cumberland and hopefully, be able to come up with a better way of helping those in need,” Farley said. “We’ve got a great economy here in the Upper Cumberland, but it is struggling right now from a lack of workers. It’s struggling with a lot of individuals that are dealing with personal issues that’s keeping them out of the workforce, and I think this is a golden opportunity to try some new methods to help these individuals.”

Farley said through the work, a partnership will be formed between businesses, faith-based communities and non-profits to align programs across agencies. Farley said the initiative will be a large undertaking.

“I think it will help everything,” Farley said. “Obviously, we have a lot of systemic poverty issues in the region. That’s always been the case and always will be the case. But in our day and time right now, we got a lot of families that’s had bad things happen to them. Its caused them to be behind. Its caused them to be in a struggling situation. Our region is rich with resources, but our people are our most important aspect.”

The Tennessee Department of Human Services launched the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative in September. Over the next four years, this initiative will provide up to $5 million in Planning Grants and $175 million in Implementation Grants to fundamentally change the way government assistance is delivered to families in Tennessee.

“Tennessee Tech has been a partner in this, our regional hospital foundation is a partner as well as the local workforce development board and the Highlands Initiative that is joining both the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency and the Development District in going after this project. It’s been a team win,” Farley said.

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