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Empower UC Expanding To Four New Counties, Surpass 700 Families

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Empower UC Expanding To Four New Counties, Surpass 700 Families

Empower Upper Cumberland will double the reach of its Circles program in the coming weeks, expanding to four more counties.

Empower UC Director Megan Spurgeon said the program will branch out to Overton, Cannon, Warren, and Smith counties. She said the program focuses on helping low-income families create plans for long-term success.

“Once we have them up and running and have them well-organized and kind of on auto-pilot, we really want some of these local organizations that are in these counties to be able to keep it going long-term and sustain it once our funding is up,” Spurgeon said.

The Circles program is a two-step program that begins with a 12-week course that includes weekly meals at local churches where childcare is provided while parents meet with mentors or “allies” who teach them skills for success. Spurgeon said the most challenging part of getting the new programs rolling will be finding organizations to donate weekly dinners and finding people to volunteer as allies.

“The more community buy-in that we can have for these Circles chapters, and the more commitments we have for the communities to see how impactful it can be for the constituents of these counties and for their neighbors to have this resource of Circles, the easier it will be to sustain,” Spurgeon said.

Spurgeon said the program is funded through a TANF Opportunity Act Pilot Grant from the Department of Human Services. She said the three-year grant ends in 2025.

“We always say that people have time, treasure, and talent,” Spurgeon said. “We have plenty of treasure right now. We have a very large grant that we’re operating out of, but that time and talent is what we’re looking for when we’re working in these communities.”

Spurgeon said the organization has just surpassed 500 families served in the Upper Cumberland with plans of surpassing 720 in the first quarter of 2024 following the expansion. Spurgeon said the next steps in a successful expansion will be widespread community buy-in. The organization currently has connections with Tennessee Tech, which works with families who wish to pursue higher education, and Highlands Training Center which helps families looking to learn a trade and join the workforce.

Empower UC currently has Circles chapters in Putnam, Macon, White, and Cumberland County.


The post Empower UC Expanding To Four New Counties, Surpass 700 Families appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.