Kentucky-Tennessee Division grows Pathway of Hope footprint through impactful grant

Aug 16, 2023 | by Brad Rowland

Kentucky-Tennessee Division grows Pathway of Hope footprint through impactful grant

By: Brad Rowland

The Salvation Army's Pathway of Hope initiative, launched in 2011, provides targeted services to families with a desire to take action in breaking the generational cycle of crisis and enable a path out of poverty. In the USA Southern Territory its impact has been wide-ranging, and in the Kentucky-Tennessee Division the initiative is expanding due to an influx of capital from a grant and an investment in training.

In 2019, the Kentucky-Tennessee Division applied for a grant through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and 2 Generation Approach (2Gen) from the State of Tennessee's Department of Human Services. This grant aims to provide Pathway of Hope services to families experiencing poverty at each corps and command in Tennessee with the 2 Gen Approach targeting four key areas: economic support, health and well-being, education, and social capital. Pathway of Hope also focuses on these areas, with Lorena Hood, divisional director of social services, describing "engagement with community partners, the ability to leverage The Salvation Army's existing programs, the integration with the mission and corps programming of The Salvation Army, and family events in local communities" as some keys to the initiative's overall success.

The State of Tennessee awarded initial funds to the Jackson Corps and Chattanooga Area Command, serving 12 counties. The award of $3 million over three years provided well-needed resources from 2020 through 2022, with the State of Tennessee then releasing another request for proposal (RFP) for a Families First Community Grant. The division applied to provide services across Tennessee, with the successful award of $10.5 million over two years. This expanded service to 42 counties and established a five-year contract through 2027, renewable after the first two years.

"The grant already provided an opportunity for the KT Division to expand its impact in the community and to expand the resources needed to do more and more with case management and help more people," said Onesa Anozie, territorial director for Pathway of Hope. "Another potential impact in a positive direction is opening doors for more fundraising. This expansion helps to bolster some of the stories we can tell, so when more grants or applications are in, there are great ways to share what is already happening on the ground."

Staff salaries and related costs are funded through the grant award, and funding also goes toward specific assistance to individuals including rent, education costs, and more. In addition, costs related to family events are covered, as well as furniture, supplies, occupancy costs, and information-technology needs.

"With this grant, we've been able to pay 100 percent of staff salaries so we've been able to add a lot of staff and are in the process of hiring more through the round of the grant that began this year," Hood said. "We've been able to crucially assign full-time staff for Pathway of Hope and also be able to pay portions of salaries for local staff and occupancy costs to bolster the work that is happening."

With the help of increased funding, Pathway of Hope's implementation is growing in the division, helping to prompt the division's first-ever intensive training during spring 2023. The training was held at Camp Paradise Valley over a three-day period, providing an experience for employees to spend time in a relaxing environment and also bringing necessary training through a multi-pronged approach. That includes general information about Pathway of Hope, database training, team building, and network opportunities to facilitate best practices.

"Prior to the pandemic, we were doing some in-person Pathway of Hope training in the division, but it was never at the level of what was able to happen earlier this year," Hood said. "I think the staff were very enthusiastic, and we got feedback about how effective and engaging the training was. People were excited, both by the instruction and the training work, but also by the fellowship and team building."

Dozens attended the training, including officers, social services directors, case managers, and the full range of social services employees. The training itself was operated in partnership between the division and territorial headquarters, with Anozie pointing to a "very encouraging and inspiring time" that proved to be "extremely useful for our employees."

While numerous success stories have occurred and will surely follow, a shining example of Pathway of Hope's influence comes from Jackson, Tennessee. Though Jackson is a relatively small corps operation, it has a very large service area, covering seven counties. Before Pathway of Hope's expansion, the corps operated with a small staff that attempted to push its resources to the limit. With the impact from the grant and its funding, Jackson was able to increase its staffing, and the corps is held up as a reference of best practices.

"Jackson is really an example of what The Salvation Army wants to see with Pathway of Hope leading to a fusion with corps programming," Hood said. "So many people and families that we're able to touch with this grant are also attending the corps and participating in other ways. By year two, Jackson had so many kids going to summer camp that they had to charter a bus. The impact has been so clear, and the corps is thriving. For a place like Jackson, this grant made a huge difference."

The Pathway of Hope has touched thousands, and that number will only grow in tandem with this substantial investment and the on-the-ground work required to implement the resources. While not every area has access to a grant of this stature, the initiative is scalable and continues to aid in laying the groundwork for generational change.

"I would absolutely tell anyone that implementing Pathway of Hope, however it is funded, and also sticking to its mission, is an opportunity to make a difference," said Hood. "It makes a difference in the lives of people and families, and it's a path to achieving the mission of The Salvation Army as well."

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