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Families First Community Grants

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is on a mission to build strong families by connecting Tennesseans to employment, education, and support services. As an administrator of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and related TANF Opportunity Act initiatives, we view our programs as a bridge to help families with low-income in our community gain new levels of independence and self-sufficiency. To reach more families across the state, we’re inviting Tennessee organizations and entities that share our vision to partner with us through the Families First Community Grant initiative. 

What is the Families First Community Grant Initiative?

The Families First Community Grant is a reimbursement grant opportunity made possible through the TANF Opportunity Act. The opportunity is open to organizations and entities that help Tennessee families by administering services in alignment with the four TANF purposes while targeting the following 2Gen outcome areas:

  • Economic Support (Increasing Economic Security)
  • Education (Empowering Parents as Their Child’s First/Primary Teachers)
  • Health and Well Being (Decreasing Psychological Distress)
  • Social Capital (Encouraging Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships)

Grant award amounts are based on applications and available funds. 

After learning about the Families First Community Grant below, qualifying organizations can use the links on this page to download a detailed Grant Guide and apply for the 2022 Families First Community Grant by the deadline of February 4, 2022 5:00 PM (Central). 

How the Families First Community Grant Helps Our State

The Families First Community Grant emphasizes measurable impact, and supports organizations that conduct family-focused solutions that move participants beyond the vulnerabilities that brought them to TDHS programs. Transitioning to a higher level of independence empowers families to become self-supporting contributing members of our state’s community, economy and to have a long-term positive trajectory.

What Families Are Served with the Grant

To receive a Families First Eligibility Grant, an organization must serve families (parent/legal guardian with children under the age of 18) that meet Tennessee’s low-income eligibility criteria according to federal TANF  guidelines. These guidelines define families with "low-income" 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
  • Being eligible for National School Lunch Program (free or reduced lunch).

What Organizations are Eligible to Apply for the Families First Community Grant

The Department is looking to engage eligible public and private organizations in Tennessee with evidence-based and evidence-informed program models who can administer community-based services to meet the needs of low-income families, placing the whole family on a path to permanent economic security.  Grants will be awarded to organizations based the following criteria: 

This grant opportunity is open to Tennessee organizations based on the following:

1.     An organization’s use of community-based services in alignment with the following TANF objectives:

  • Providing aid to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes.
  • Reducing the dependency of parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage.
  • Preventing and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
  • Encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

2.     An organization’s commitment to tracking and reporting outcomes by:

  • Identifying outcomes based on the Department's Four Universal 2Gen Outcomes areas: 1) Increasing Economic Security 2) Empowering Parents as Their Child’s First/Primary Teachers 3) Decreasing Psychological Distress 4) Encouraging Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships. (Review the Families First Community Grant Guide for Details).
  • Developing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely outcomes (with metrics) to be used to support the identified goal(s).

3.     An organization’s experience, documented record, and history of the following:

  • Demonstrating an understanding of the challenges low-income families experience in their community, including those related to: education, health and well-being, economic stability, and safe, stable, and nurturing relationships.
  • Implementing or developed community-based programs that proved effective even when subjected to third-party evaluation.
  • Demonstrating strong leadership and coordination of cross-sector partnerships.
  • Demonstrating a proven track record for providing services intended to help low-income families achieve economic mobility.
  • Identifying 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.
  • Articulating long-term impact of the community’s approach, including applicable return on investment and cost-benefit analysis, to support and sustain delivery of services.
  • Articulating a desire to work in partnership with the Department, community-based organizations, other stakeholders, and current and former customers to co-create solutions that address significant social problems.

All eligible entities who wish to apply must not be currently debarred, suspended, or otherwise ineligible to conduct business in the State of Tennessee. Grant Contracts with the Department may be entered for services on a short-term basis and based upon the type of service needed, available resources and funding, and applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

Families First Community Grant Application Guide

Families First Community Grants Application Guide - review this guide for detailed instruction and application requirements, prior to submitting an application.

Certificate of Acknowledgement (COA)

Budget Form

Applying to Receive a Families First Community Grant

To be considered for a Families First Community Grant, eligible organizations and other qualified entities in Tennessee may submit an application during the grant open enrollment cycle according to the guidelines and instructions outlined in the Families First Community Grant Application Guide.

Application Content

Eligible organizations can apply to receive a Families First Community Grant by submitting an eight-page (or less) application that includes the following content in accordance with the Families First Community Grant Guide:

I.      Organizational Background: A brief history of the organization, its mission and description of current initiatives and populations served.

II.     TANF Program and Purpose: A clear but brief explanation of how the program(s) align with the four purposes of TANF.

III.   Target Population Served: A description of the demographics of the community being served the program and clearly describe participation eligibility and parameters.

IV.   Scope of Work: An explanation and description of specific program tasks and delivery model(s) that will be performed to meet the objectives and purpose of TANF and the program in accordance to need.

V.     Performance Measures/Outcomes:  A list six (or more) program objectives and corresponding outcome measurements for adults and children served based on the four 2Gen key components.

VI.   Detailed Proposed Budget: A detailed request a grant amount and outline of the program budget using the Families First Community Grant Budget Form. Submitted information should lists both private and public funding sources (pending and received).  Click Here to Download the Budget Form.

VII. Organizational Structure: An organizational chart that outlines key staff for the oversight, support, and delivery of the program. Content should indicate any services that will be contracted out such as fiscal, audit, etc.

Note: Applicants may also include letters of support, but letters of support are not required and will count toward the eight-page limit. 

In addition to the eight-page application, the following supplemental documents are required (and do not count towards the application page limit of eight pages):

  • Certificate of Acknowledgement (COA) (provided by TDHS)
  • Conflict of Interest (COI) – Organization’s policy (if applicable) and a signed statement on official letterhead attesting that: based upon reasonable inquiry, neither the organization, its employees, affiliate entities/agencies, employees of any affiliate entity/agency, nor any affiliated individual who will perform services under this potential contract, as a result of this application, have a possible or perceived conflict of interest.
  • Organizational Chart
  • Completed Budget Form (provided by TDHS)


Application Formatting

Following the Grant Guide, applications should be formatted as follows:

  • Eight pages or less.
  • Outlined to address the required content as described in the Families First Community Grant Guide.
  • Numbered pages submitted on 8 ½ x 11-inch paper with 1” margins.
  • Double spaced lines with 11 pt (or larger) font.
  • The budget form should be submitted as a Microsoft Excel file. All other documents should be submitted as a PDF.
  • Files should be titled using the following format: "Agency Name – FY2022 Families First Community Grant Application", followed by the type of document (Application, COA, COI, Org Chart, Budget, or IRS Determination Letter, if applicable).

How to Submit a Families First Community Grant Application

Application materials must be submitted electronically through the provided Formstack link:

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