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TANF Opportunity Act Grant Announcements

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The Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative Planning Grant Application period is now open from

September 1, 2021 9:00 AM (CST) to October 15, 2021 5:00 PM (CST).

Begin preparing now, by reviewing the information below.

Pilot Initiative Participant Eligibility Criteria

Families participating in the services funded by the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative must meet certain eligibility requirements established by federal law. Specifically, participating families (parent/legal guardian with child(ren) under the age of 18) must meet Tennessee’s low-income eligibility criteria. "Low-Income Families" is defined as families who are:

  • Living at or below the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Eligible for Medicaid.
  • Recipients of, or eligible for, public benefits such as Families First (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • Part of a coordinated entry system through Social Services agencies and meet the low-income criteria; unemployed or zero income verification.
  • Live in Section 8 housing or low rent public housing.
  • Be eligible for National School Lunch Program (free or reduced lunch).

Planning Grant Applicant Criteria

Collaborations of Tennessee-based entities that can administer services which are consistent with the Department’s mission and meet one of the four purposes of TANF are encouraged to apply during the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative Planning Grant application period. The following four types of entities should collaborate for the purpose of applying for Planning Grants:

  • A political subdivision of this state.
  • A nonprofit corporation, created pursuant to title 48.
  • A development district, created pursuant to the Development District Act of 1965, compiled in title 13, chapter 14.
  • A human resource agency, created pursuant to the Human Resource Agency Act of 1973, compiled in title 13, chapter 26.

Selection Criteria

The process for selecting which collaborations will be awarded Planning Grants will differ from the more robust process utilized when selecting recipients of Implementation Grants. However, certain criteria will remain constant throughout. For example, the list below includes a set of characteristics that recipients of Planning and Implementation Grants must possess. In addition to being a Tennessee-based collaboration of agencies/entities, applicants must also have:

  • Demonstrated an understanding of the challenges low-income families experience in their community, including those related to: Education; Health and well-being; Economic stability; Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships.
  • Implemented or developed community-based programs that have been proven to be effective even when subjected to third-party evaluation.
  • Demonstrated strong leadership and coordination of cross-sector partnerships.
  • Demonstrated a proven track record for providing services intended to help low-income families achieve economic mobility.
  • Identified a diverse set of resources, secured cross-sector partnerships, and developed a plan to deliver services from a family-led approach that is aligned with one or more of the four purposes of TANF.
  • Articulated long-term impact of the community’s approach, including applicable return on investment and cost-benefit analysis, to support and sustain delivery of services.
  • Articulated a desire to work in partnership with the Department, the Families First Community Advisory Board, community-based organizations, other stakeholders, and current and former customers to co-create solutions that address significant social problems.

Applications must demonstrate commitment and capacity to create a compelling plan for increasing economic advancement and family well-being. Applications must include a detailed description of how the applicant intends to engage a broad range of community partners and utilize evidence-based practices and evidence-informed practices, including but not limited to such focus areas as home visiting services, high-quality child care programs and child care provider networks, wrap-around services, one-on-one financial counseling, after school and summer learning programs with curricula approved by the Department of Education, workforce training and apprenticeship programs, etc.

Successful applicants will be selected based on the eligibility of the collaboration applying, the application’s alignment with the Department’s vision, the application’s alignment with the purposes of the TANF program, the collaboration’s demonstrated capacity for success, and other objective selection criteria including distribution of grants across a mix of urban, rural, and suburban populations in the state.


Tennessee Opportunity Planning Grant Application Guide

Collaboratives that are interested in pursuing this opportunity are encouraged to review the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative Planning Grant Application Guide in detail and follow instructions to submit an application.

Click here to access the Application Guide.

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Have questions or comments? Contact us at TOA.DHS@tn.gov.

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