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TN College/Underserved Community Partnership Program


The Tennessee College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (TN CUPP) works to establish partnerships between underserved communities and Tennessee Higher
Education Institutions (TN HEIs) in Tennessee. Through these partnerships, TN HEIs can provide a variety of low to no-cost technical support and manpower to address environmental,
economic, and health issues that impact the quality of life in nearby underserved communities.  

All participants benefit from the TN CUPP program. Communities benefit from innovative and no-cost technical assistance provided by students attending nearby academic institutions. Professors and students benefit by gaining hands-on experience in their areas of study, with students earning college credit and building their resumes; and professors gaining recognition for their department and university. 

Projects will be evaluated based upon support of TDEC’s mission and specific factors to determine a project’s value. Project value is determined by
the following:

a)     How the project will benefit the community and how many residents it will serve

b)     Partners and their contributions, whether monetary or a service and its value

c)      Number of volunteers and/or volunteer hours

d)     Avoided costs by a TN HEI performing services for no or very little cost that would otherwise cost a community more if completed by a private group. Services can include maintenance, clean-up, studies, mitigation plans, mitigation cost analysis, grant writing, etc.

e)     If necessary for project execution, funding amount already obtained and/or committed and associated source of funding


A few examples of creative, community-specific solutions which could qualify as TN HEI CUPP projects include but are not limited to:

·        Design of nature trails, rain gardens, rubber porous walkways, and/or outdoor spaces

·        Restoring historic landmark(s) owned by the municipality

·        Restoring or establishing new wetlands

·        Design and/or implementation of alternative fuel projects

·        Energy assessments to identify municipality opportunities for resource conservation

·        Water and/or wastewater treatment plant assessments to identify opportunities for resource conservation

·        Work study for future potential water and wastewater treatment plant operators

·        Waste assessments to identify opportunities for increased diversion of materials from the landfill

·        Research and development for rubber modified asphalt projects

·        Planning and design of State Revolving Fund program qualifying projects

Listed below are a few successful projects completed in Tennessee under EPA’s College/Underserved Community Partnership Program:

Lipscomb University and City of Pegram

The city of Pegram, TN sent a request to the Civil Engineering Department at Lipscomb University for the provision of engineering services to assist with flooding issues at the 500 block of Highway 70, Pegram TN. Flooding at this location occurs multiple times a year, typically incurring property damage. Because the flood area is commercial, business is disrupted and often drives business owners away. It is also reported that the flooding will overtop Highway 70 in a large storm, creating safety issues. The scope of this project was to provide analysis, and design for the purpose of proving that the existing conditions cause the culverts under HWY 70 to fail per TDOT standards, and to provide design development drawings to aid in future design and construction of a flood control plan. View the program report Here


TSU and City of Pleasant View

The city of Pleasant View, TN wanted a preliminary land use assessment conducted for their city. Pleasant View represents the conditions and circumstances that raise the question and concern of how will the community representatives respond to an increasing demand for a more metropolitan character and the balance of the traditional. TSU performed a land use assessment of Pleasant View and made recommendations for future land use and community strategies. View the program report Here


Qualifications to Particpate in TN CUPP

To see if your community, Higher Education Institution, or organization can participate in TN CUPP, please review the appropriate qualifications section below. You may also reach Brook Powell at to sign up for participation and/or if you have any additional questions.