Belmont University’s commitment to impact its local community received a significant boost today with the announcement of a $1.5 million 2Gen Family Wellbeing Program grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services. Funds from the grant will support the work of the Belmont Ministry Center and the adjacent nonprofit, The Store, in providing local, low income families support through food provision, nutritional and pharmacy education, health screenings, legal aid clinics, mental health counseling and music therapy. The Belmont Ministry Center opened on 12 South last year to offer services to the community while a groundbreaking was recently held for The Store, a free grocery store founded by Belmont alumnus Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “Through the work of our Ministry Center and our partnership with Brad and Kimberly on The Store, Belmont is deeply committed to providing services to underserved children and families in our community, and this 2Gen grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services will significantly enhance the scope and delivery of the services we offer. We are grateful for their belief in our work, and I’m excited to witness how this grant expands the impact our students, faculty and staff can have on our neighbors.”
“One thing we know is that when we focus on the needs of both the parent and the child together we are able to break generational cycles of poverty and build a thriving Tennessee,” said Tennessee Department of Human Services Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “Belmont University is at the forefront of innovation in providing unique two generational wrap around services in the heart of Nashville. Partnerships such as these are vital to building strong families and communities.”
With the advent of The Store, which is currently under construction and anticipated to open in early 2020, the Belmont Ministry Center will expand and enhance the services offered to provide support for Store patrons and other low income families in the Edgehill and greater Nashville community. The Ministry Center/Store partnership will bring together in one place a range of services and learning opportunities that will offer a unique inter-professional approach to serving families in support of the Department of Human Services Universal Outcome for decreasing psychological distress.
The Store Executive Director Gina Hancock said, “This grant is the glue that is bringing the work of The Store and the Belmont Ministry Center together in a way that will help us both have the biggest impact possible on the people in our community.”
In their work with The Store and the Ministry Center, Belmont students in a variety of fields (healthcare, law, business, counseling, music therapy, public health and more) will gain hands-on experience in their areas of study, all under the direction of professional staff and faculty. With the support of this grant, Belmont’s Family Wellbeing Program intends to provide low income families the following services:
- Free access to healthy food options at The Store
- Health screenings and access to basic care and referrals
- Nutrition assessment, education and referral
- Pharmacy education
- Physical activity assessment, coaching and programming
- Psychological stress, depression assessment and referral as needed
- Legal aid
- Mental health counseling
- Music therapy
- Financial literacy education
The health of Tennesseans is markedly sub-optimal and directly linked to risk characteristics and behavior choices. According to America’s Health Rankings in 2018, Tennessee ranked 42nd among the states for overall health, and among the worst for the major precursors of preventable illness and death: 45th for diabetes and cardiovascular disease and 46th for cancer. Access to care, nutrition/food insufficiency, physical activity and psychological distress are among the risk factors influencing those numbers, and the 2Gen Family Wellbeing Grant will support initiatives meant to combat those factors.
Belmont faculty staff and students will assist in conducting health screenings and referrals as well as in providing legal aid clinics, mental health counseling and music therapy to interested families. In addition, financial literacy sessions will offer opportunities for families to learn basic budgeting and financial planning. This work advances the University’s Vision 2020 strategic goal to be “Nashville’s University,” continuing to seek opportunities to align Belmont’s mission and resources with the needs of the local community
A concept developed by Ascend at the Aspen Institute, two-generation (2Gen) approaches focus on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of both children and the adults in their lives together. The approach recognizes that families come in all different shapes and sizes and that families define themselves. Tennessee Department of Human Services has taken this path to structure services to address intergenerational poverty and create a pathway to prosperity for families in Tennessee. The 2Gen “Whole-Family” approach is focused equally and intentionally on services and opportunities for the parent and the child.