pilot program

State launches $180M public-private pilot program for welfare services

The state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The state Human Services Department is accepting applications for its Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative that will invest $180 million in public-private partnerships developing programs to move vulnerable Tennesseans toward self-sufficiency.

The program is part of the TANF Opportunity Act passed this year.

Here is the Human Services release:

NASHVILLE – With the launch of the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is taking a groundbreaking step to transform the way Tennessee serves its most vulnerable families. Over the next four years, this initiative will provide up to $5 million in Planning Grants and $175 million in Implementation Grants to further the Department’s vision of fundamentally changing the way government assistance is delivered to families in Tennessee.

This first phase will award Planning Grants of up to $500,000 each to public-private partnerships dedicated to developing innovative strategies that will move Tennesseans with economic, social, and developmental vulnerabilities beyond their current circumstances and on to self-sufficiency. With the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create a new vision of government support. This new vision will shift the focus from the quantity of benefits, goods, and services provided to the quality of life for those served. TDHS invites Tennessee-based collaborative groups – large and small – that fall into one of the following categories to apply:

— Tennessee Nonprofit organizations

Development Districts (city/county economic planning organizations)

— Local government agencies (political subdivisions)

— Human Resource agencies created pursuant to the Human Resource Agency Act of 1973

Planning Grants will provide the resources needed for grantees to develop their vision, overall design, budget, and other important aspects required for their Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Implementation Grant proposals. Planning Grant applications must be submitted online no later than Friday, October 15, 2021 at 5PM CST. Next spring the Families First Community Advisory Board will select the 6 Pilot Program grantees (2 in each grand division) to receive up to $25 million in Implementation Grants over a three-year period. TDHS will also operate a pilot. Collaborative groups must be selected for a Planning Grant to be eligible for the larger Implementation Grants.

“The Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative Planning Grants offer an entry point for public- private groups to work together to form new ways of helping our citizens grow beyond life’s current challenges,” said TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter. “We are putting an important stake in the ground for how Tennessee addresses our vulnerable citizens. To make this vision a reality, we need partnerships from across all regions and sectors of Tennessee – partners committed to transforming the lives of those in need so that dependence on government support is a mile marker in their life’s journey, not a destination unto itself.”

More information on application requirements, including applicant eligibility, can be found in the 2021 Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Program Planning Grant Application Guide.

Funding for the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative is provided through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF is a federally funded program that emphasizes work, family strengthening, and personal responsibility to empower families for long- term success.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is dedicated to making our state a place where all Tennesseans can move beyond the barriers they may face, to self-sufficiency, and on to new heights.