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UCHRA Awarded $25 Million For “Empower Upper Cumberland” Initiative

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UCHRA Awarded $25 Million For “Empower Upper Cumberland” Initiative

A new process to alleviate poverty in the Upper Cumberland began Thursday.

The State Department of Human Services officially announced UCHRA as a $25 million grant recipient to implement a three-year pilot called “Empower Upper Cumberland.”

Governor Bill Lee called the collaborative partnership a new and innovative way to bridge the gap for families.

“The government can not solve the problems of today, but we can work together to create an environment where the people do that,” Lee said. “The people do that through non-profits, through faith community, through community organizations through individuals that are engaged in helping their neighbors and that is what this is about today.”

A total of seven implementation grants were awarded to entities across the state. Each group will receive $25 million in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Department of Human Services Commissioner Clarence Carter said the funding will transform Tennessee.

“These community design and driven grants will test the hypothesis of our vision of growing capacity to reduce dependency,” Carter said. “A second piece objective is building a Tennessee where all have the opportunity to thrive.”

Empower Upper Cumberland includes key community partners including Highlands Economic Partnership, Upper Cumberland Labor and Workforce Development Board, Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville Regional Charitable Foundation, Upper Cumberland Development District, WCTE Central TN PBS, as well as community members.

The Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative was created as part 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.


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