Hill Day, March 15, 2023

March 8th, 2023

Wednesday, March 15, is the official Day-on-the-Hill for United Waysof Tennessee in partnership with Boys and Girls Club of Tennessee, Savethe Children, and the Tennessee Afterschool Network. We need you to joinus to help us educate our Tennessee State Legislators and make animpact for afterschool and Tennessee families. 


First and foremost, please save the date!  March 15th will be acollaborative hill day for United Ways of TN (UWTN), TN AfterschoolNetwork (TAN), Boys and Girls Clubs, and Save the Children!  We will bemeeting on the House floor in the Capitol Building from 9-10:30.  Here’sa link to parking options parking near cordell hull building – Google Search. Doleave yourself plenty of time to park, walk, and get through security. To find information on your local legislators, visit http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/Apps/fmlv3/districts.aspx.  Please arrive no later than 8:30 a.m. Central so you can get through the security checks in time to reach our destination. 


Please email Mary Graham ([email protected])to let her know who is attending from your area (name, organization,email).  We encourage you to come, as well as to recruit/bring staff,volunteers, affinity group members, and partners who are passionateabout our issues.  We also encourage you to coordinate with neighboringorganizations that are coming who share the same legislator(s). 


UWTN and TAN will be providing Legislative Champion awards to Sen.Page Walley and Rep. Mark White for sponsoring our successful Handlewith Care legislation last session.  If any of these legislators areunable to attend, we will make arrangements for you to deliver thempersonally at a later time.  Boys and Girls Clubs and Save the Childrenwill also have awards, and the final one is for a youth, so please doplan to stay through 10:30 A.M. so all feel appropriately lauded.  


Schedule your appointments in advance, and please make them for no earlier than 10:45 A.M. so we have a big crowd for awards and photos. You can find contact info for your legislators here Senators – TN General Assembly and here Representatives – TN General Assembly  There are lots of new faces this session, so you may also find this link helpful: Find My Legislator – TN General Assembly

Virtual/distanced participation (for adults and kids)

While there will not be a hybrid option for this event, you cansupport these efforts from a distance if unable to make it in-person. You can send an email with correspondence and materials, schedule aphone visit or zoom, and participate in helping us distribute socialmedia content on Hill Day (social media messaging will come your way onMarch 6).  We also encourage organizations serving children and youth toengage them in the process.  Pull up their legislators on screen andshare some info about them with the students.  Ask them to email theirlegislators or tag them on social media with a supportive statementabout why afterschool programming matters to them.  Last hill day, wehad 14 afterschool programs doing so – even sending legislators videos,cards, and beyond.  It’s a great way to engage them in civicresponsibility.


Click Here for "Hill Day Resources"

We will be providing all attendeeswith leave-behinds/talking points on afterschool and on the promisingfutures legislation, which provides scholarships for early childcare. United Way folks will also receive materials on 2-1-1, and B&GC andSave the Children will also have some materials unique to their ownorganizations’ issues.  Mary will circulate UWTN and TAN materials inadvance, as well. We encourage you to also bring local materials,especially outcomes, 211 data, etc., as well as “chotchkies” to giveyour legislators (e.g. a t-shirt, mug or other give away–items thatstick around on desks or will be worn or carried around are ideal).  Wewill not have our new ALICE data in time for hill day, but look forinformation on legislative outreach around that report’s release inApril. 


Questions or want a little more support?  Mary is here to support you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

We look forward to making Day-on-the-Hill 2023 our most effective ever

Posted by Kelley Nave

Contact: Mary Graham
United Ways of Tennessee

[email protected]


United Way Launches Tennessee Benefit Kitchen to Support Low-Income Families


November 1, 2022, Nashville, Tenn.—United Ways of Tennessee (UWTN) is pleased to launch Tennessee Benefit Kitchen. Every year, 103 million Americans leave $80 billion in public benefits unclaimed. United Way is committed to ensuring that struggling families in our state are aware of the benefits for which they qualify and know how to apply for them. In response, we are launching Tennessee Benefit Kitchen, a free screener that all Tennesseans can use to determine eligibility for several tax credits and many federal, state and local public benefits—and to access the application sites to apply for those for which they qualify. 

Tennessee residents simply text “Benefits” to 211-211, and they receive a screener that takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Once completed, they immediately receive notice of tax credits and benefits for which they are eligible, along with the links to apply to each benefit. The tax credits and benefits covered in the screener currently include:

  • Food Stamps (SNAP)
  • Cash Assistance (TANF)
  • Women Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Head Start
  • School Meals
  • Child Care Assistance
  • TennCare (Medicaid, for adults and children)
  • ACA (Affordable Care Act for adults and children)
  • CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)
  • County Medical Services
  • Home Energy Assistance (HEAP)
  • Lifeline
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Childcare Tax Credit
  • Earned Income Tax Credit   

“United Way is excited about this initiative to support households that are struggling with basic necessities. It is a powerful tool to help families thrive financially and obtain available resources to sustain their needs and improve their lives,” said Mary Graham, president of UWTN. “We know many Tennesseans are not aware of all the benefits available to them, let alone how and where to apply. This service makes it easier for them, improving the quality of life throughout our communities.


In areas where United Way or its partners provide financial empowerment centers, financial counseling and related services, staff will help Tennessee residents complete the screening on a web application of Benefit Kitchen, which is translatable into many languages. Where such services are in place, the web-based, counselor-supported version enables United Way and its partner agencies to work with clients not only on completing the screener, but also on completing the applications for benefits. It also allows them to identify and prepare clients for budget changes that impact benefit eligibility, known as benefit cliffs and curves.


“United Way works to support both Tennesseans living in poverty, as well as ALICE households—ALICE stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained, Employed. These households are often our essential workers, but they’re still having a hard time making ends meet. We are offering Tennessee Benefit Kitchen so those in our state can receive the unclaimed benefits they have earned,” said Matt Marshall, UWTN board chair.


About United Ways of Tennessee        

United Ways of Tennessee (UWTN) is the association of 30 United Ways in our state, coming together for collective action to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of everyone living in our state.  As Tennessee’s leading community solutions provider, we are the driving force behind many initiatives that provide solutions to the most critical needs. To learn more, link here: About Us | United Ways of Tennessee (uwtn.org)

About Tennessee ALICE

ALICE is deep research, shining a light on the challenges ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households face.  UWTN and its member local United Ways use this cost of living data to find collaborative solutions to our communities’ biggest problems.  Equipped with this data, we convene, advocate, and innovate to promote financial stability.  Our next ALICE highlights report focuses on Veterans and will be released in November of 2022, and our next “full” ALICE report will be released by close of April 2023.  Links for our two other highlight reports released this year can be found here:   ALICE in Focus on Children | United Ways of Tennessee (uwtn.org) and here: ALICE in Focus on People with Disabilities | United Ways of Tennessee (uwtn.org).

About Benefit Kitchen

Benefit Kitchen builds benefit eligibility tools that help nonprofit agencies connect low-income families to federal, state and local benefits. To learn more, link here: http://benefitkitchen.com

Posted by Kelley Nave

For Immediate Release 
Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Mary Graham
United Ways of Tennessee
[email protected]


New research: 57% of People with Disabilities in Tennessee are Living in Financial Hardship 

New report reveals that federal poverty data significantly undercounts how many people with disabilities are struggling to afford the basics.

The number of people with disabilities in Tennessee who struggle to afford the basics is far higher than federal poverty data indicates — more than 1 million in our state, according to a new report from United Ways of Tennessee and its research partner United For ALICE.

In 2019, while 20% of Tennessee residents with disabilities were deemed in poverty, 37% — nearly twice as many — were ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy. Combined, 57% of our state’s residents living with disabilities were below the ALICE Threshold, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, childcare, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.

“On the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we see residents in Tennessee with physical, mental, or emotional conditions are struggling financially, and they are not only being undercounted, but also underserved,” said president, Mary Graham. “Having a disability puts individuals at substantial risk for financial instability, more than many other factors. These individuals face barriers to accessing quality services, education, secure jobs and other critical supports.  The pandemic made things harder, with food insufficiency, interrupted learning, depression, anxiety, and work loss even higher for this population.” 

The new research also shows that outdated federal guidelines prevent the majority of residents with disabilities who are living in financial hardship from accessing critical public assistance. According to the new report, a staggering 85% of Tennessee residents with disabilities below the ALICE Threshold did not receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The program requires that recipients have income below the poverty level, be unable to work, have a “severe” impairment and have less than $2,000 in their bank accounts, $3,000 if they are a married couple.

Black and Hispanic residents with disabilities — 72% and 64% respectively — disproportionately experienced financial hardship compared to 54% of white people with disabilities. And across the board, Tennesseans with disabilities below the ALICE threshold were more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck than those without disabilities.  And the rates of hardship are likely even higher than could be counted as data is not available for individuals living in nursing homes, correctional facilities and other group settings.

More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: People with Disabilities interactive data dashboard, which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements and household work status. Visit UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Disabilities.

ALICE in Focus: People with Disabilities marks the second installment in the ALICE in Focus Research Series, which draws from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Each installment in the series highlights a specific segment within the ALICE demographic. The first installment focused on children; the next report will feature veterans.

About United Ways of Tennessee    

United Ways of Tennessee is the network of the 30 United Ways in our state.  As Tennessee’s leading community solutions provider, United Way is the driving force behind many initiatives that provide solutions to our most critical needs.  We are working to advance the common good by focusing on the building blocks for a good life—education, income, and health.  In addition to providing more than $100 million in funding each year to more than 1200 programs, services, and agencies, we are directly involved in initiatives that address crucial community needs, including: 

  • Crisis response with basic assistance for victims of disasters, such as the pandemic, tornadoes, and fires
  • Food, shelter, and other basic needs for those facing tough times
  • Free 2-1-1 phone access to find health and human services and volunteer opportunities
  • A 1700+ member TN Afterschool Network, advancing the quality and availability of out-of-school programs for children and youth
  • Prevention that reduces use of opioids, tobacco, and other substances
  • Job skills training for people who want to work
  • Health care and other assistance for disabled, vulnerable, and aging populations
  • Initiatives creating economic opportunity and reducing homelessness and poverty

For more information about United Ways of Tennessee, or to find and contact your local United Way, link to www.uwtn.org.  

About United For ALICE 

United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, research, and action to improve life across the country for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and for all. Through the development of the ALICE measurements, a comprehensive, unbiased picture of financial hardship has emerged. Harnessing this data and research on the mismatch between low-paying jobs and the cost of survival, ALICE partners convene, advocate, and collaborate on solutions that promote financial stability at local, state, and national levels. This grassroots ALICE movement, led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, has spread to 24 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org

Posted by Kelley Nave