The Upper Cumberland was well represented among the first group of presenters tasked with developing innovative strategies to move vulnerable Tennesseans to self-sufficiency as part of the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Opportunity Act.

Presenting our proposal to the Families First Advisory Board were Mark Farley, UCHRA Executive Director; Megan Spurgeon, Empower Upper Cumberland Project Director; and Shaquawana Wester, Youth Programs Coordinator, Highlands Residential Services.

This first phase included awarding Planning Grants of up to $500,000 each to public-private partnership dedicated to developing innovative strategies to move Tennesseans with economic, social, and developmental vulnerabilities beyond their current circumstances and on to self-sufficiency. Now, the public-private groups will present their specific plans for pilot programs before the Families First Community Advisory Board. Following the Implementation Grant presentations, two (2) pilot programs will be selected for each grand division of the state. TDHS will also select its own pilot program.

Click here to view the video of our presentation.

To learn more about the TANF Opportunity Act and the participating public-private partnerships seeking pilot funding, visit