Belmont University was recently named among 40 grant recipients to receive funding from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) through its Families First Community Grant Program, an initiative that will award more than $95 million in funding to organizations providing innovative and direct services to support Tennessee families in need.
“We are honored to announce the 40 organizations that have been selected to receive Families First Community Grant funding to help us ensure that all Tennesseans have a pathway to self-sufficiency and economic prosperity,” TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter was quoted in a press release on Wednesday, May 3. “At TDHS, we understand that we have the greatest impact when we partner with community-based organizations to provide innovative solutions to better support families in need. With the help of these organizations, it is our goal to transform the state’s safety net for our most vulnerable citizens.”
The Families First Community Grant Program was created through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Opportunity Act, passed and signed by Gov. Bill Lee in 2021 as an additional method to invest TANF funds into programs. In 2019, a $1.5 million 2Gen grant from TDHS significantly boosted the community impact of Belmont’s Family Wellbeing Program (FWP), an initiative established to develop services aimed at providing long-term benefits to low-income families and helping them move towards economic stability. $1.4M from the Families First Community grant will continue to help fund and expand the work of FWP.
“We are so excited about continuing our partnership with TDHS that has allowed us to support over 500 families in our community,” Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, Educational Innovation, Dr. Paula Gill said. “The social impact of this grant is seen in the lives of our participating families and their ability to access healthy food and services such as music therapy, financial planning, nutrition, and exercise programs along with mental health counseling. This year, we will expand services to include workforce and youth development programs creating more opportunities for our neighbors.”
FWP provides numerous wraparound services at Belmont’s Ministry Center to underserved children and families in the community in addition to supplying food assistance through a shopping experience at The Store, a non-profit co-founded by Belmont alumnus Brad Paisley and his spouse Kimberly Williams-Paisley. The Store aids upwards of 350 families yearly and celebrated its third year of operations in March.
The complete list of grant recipients and services provided by each organization can be found on the Tennessee Department of Human Services website, by clicking here.