NASHVILLE, TENN. – Nov. 9, 2020 - Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, has received a $7.3 million grant from the State of Tennessee, one of the largest grants in Catholic Charities’ history, to expand services into additional Middle Tennessee counties.
The new program is called “Tennessee Serves Neighbors” and will create new family resource centers in 10 counties over the next two years. The funding is provided by the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) as part of its nationally recognized Two-Generation (2Gen) approach to helping families. Each 2Gen grant is funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal program.
A family resource center is a central location where residents can come to receive a wide variety of services, including help in an immediate crisis as well as ongoing services that reduce the overall reliance on government services.
“We are grateful to Gov. Bill Lee and the Department of Human Services for the opportunity to expand family resource centers in counties where these services are needed most,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Judy K. Orr. “'Serving our neighbors’ is a core principle in the Catholic Charities’ mission statement and the foundation of the work we do every day.”
“The Two-Generation approach is a critical part of how we’re building strong families in Tennessee and I’m looking forward to expanding those efforts with the Catholic Charities Diocese of Nashville,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “These family resource centers will provide essential wrap-around services that parents and children need to thrive.”
In 2020, Catholic Charities expects to add services in five counties: Montgomery, Maury, Marshall, Bedford, and Coffee. The following year, the program will expand to add Grundy, Warren, White, Dekalb, and Putnam counties. DHS and Catholic Charities collaborated to identify counties with high levels poverty and reliance on free or reduced school lunches, where Catholic Charities is likely to have immediate impact.
Orr said Catholic Charities’ successful grant application focused on four areas:
• Experience building and operating similar family resource centers
• Making a multi-generational impact
• Job creation
• Leveraging the vast Catholic Church parish network
Catholic Charities has more than two decades of experience operating similar programs in North Nashville and in South Nashville, which are currently housed at McGruder Family Resource Center and at Casa Azafrán, respectively.
Catholic Charities’ goal is to have a multi-generational impact in the counties served. Orr said “Tennessee Serves Neighbors” will provide both a safety net for families in crisis and enhanced services that foster independence from government support for multiple generations. The program will focus on job training, life skills (e.g. financial management), and building healthy, stable families. A key partner in each county will be healthcare providers who will help people manage their health and navigate resources in their region.
“I am thrilled that many of the new employees we expect to hire, which could be as many as 60 people, will live and work in the communities they serve,” said Orr. “This is an important part of our community-based approach, which recognizes the unique needs of the clients we help.”
Each county will have a four-member core team. Orr said the exact makeup of each county team will depend upon the highest needs identified early in the process. “Tennessee Serves Neighbors” will also provide vital training opportunities for college and university master’s level students, such as the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, to work in the social services field through formal internships or preceptorships.
Orr noted the grant application also focused on Catholic Charities’ ability to leverage the large Catholic Church parish network to provide volunteers and family mentors.
“The roadmap from ‘Tennessee Serves Neighbors’ could easily expand to the Catholic Charities agencies serving East and West Tennessee,” she said.
Catholic Charities agencies across the country have historically been the largest provider of social services, after the government, dating back to early 1900s and culminating in many of the Depression-era and post-World War II social service programs created by the federal government.
About Catholic Charities
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, was founded in 1962 as the social service arm of the Diocese of Nashville. The organization serves people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background in 38 Middle Tennessee counties that comprise the Diocese of Nashville. Assisting more than 12,000 people per year, Catholic Charities provides a range of services that help clients through crises and toward self-sufficiency. Services include emergency financial assistance, counseling, job training, housing stability, hunger relief, and more.