In 2022, the STRONG Accountable Care Community (STRONG ACC) in partnership with the First Tennessee Development District Foundation secured a three-year $25 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), one of seven Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative (TOPI) grants awarded to communities across Tennessee. With the help of this funding, the STRONG Families Northeast Tennessee program will help at least 800 economically-disadvantaged families increase economic mobility and self-sufficiency. First Tennessee Development District serves as the grant manager and fiscal agent, while the STRONG ACC serves as the programmatic lead. Services were launched in the summer of 2023.

Program Goals

  • Serve at least 800 qualifying families across the 10-county region.
  • Increase capacity and reduce dependency on government assistance. (TDHS Commissioner Clarence Carter)
  • Show meaningful gains in family stability, agency, and income-earning potential.
  • Demonstrate the effectiveness of our innovative pilot design.

Program Elements

Family Partner Services

  • High-intensity, low caseload, family-centered coaching and resource navigation


Financial Support

  • Milestone payments upon completion of family goals
  • Barrier Removal payments help alleviate barriers to achieving family goals
  • Transitional benefits payments as income increases and public assistance ends


Behavioral Health Services

  • Rapid access to mental and behavioral health support
  • Treatment and support for those in recovery from substance use disorder


Specialized Training and Assistance

  • Parenting education
  • Financial counseling
  • Career planning and job training

Program Eligibility

  • Be a U.S. citizen residing in one of the 10 counties in Northeast Tennessee
  • Income at or below federal poverty level and/or eligible for or receiving some form of public assistance (e.g., TANF, Medicaid, SNAP, subsidized housing, child care tuition assistance, free/reduced lunch, etc.)
  • Have custody of one or more minor children living in the home (or be expecting and in the 3rd trimester)
  • Able and willing to work or participate in further education

Enroll Now

Filling out this form means you (or someone on your behalf) are requesting enrollment in the STRONG Families NETN program. Please be sure to scroll through and complete the entire form before clicking “Submit” at the bottom. Once completed, this form is sent to the STRONG Families NETN Enrollment Coordinator who will contact you within five business days and, pending your eligibility, arrange an in-person meeting with a STRONG Families team member. The information you provide is completely confidential. There is no cost to participate in the program. 

STRONG Families NETN Management Team

Brooke Atchley

STRONG Families NETN Program Director

Cory Whitfield

STRONG Families NETN Operations Manager 

The STRONG Families NETN Team

The Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative (TOPI) is brought forth by the Tennessee Department of Human Services and TANF Opportunity Act. This initiative will help individuals, families, and the state of Tennessee by creating a new vision for the Tennessee social safety net and is dedicated to helping low-income families grow beyond their vulnerabilities. TOPI empowers all Tennesseans by partnering with local organizations to reach deep into their communities and work shoulder to shoulder with individuals and families, growing their capacity to take on life’s challenges and reduce their dependency on the social safety net.

STRONG Families NETN is a part of a study funded by the Tennessee Department of Human Services which is being conducted to determine how these pilot programs help people improve their economic well-being. During the study, all new eligible applicants will be randomly selected into one of two groups that receive a different mix of program services.

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