Establishing partnerships between TN HEIs and underserved communities with close geographical proximity enables the TN HEIs to maximize community support provided by college students in their area of academic study while being overseen by professors supporting the effort.

Communities with one or more of the following criteria may qualify for the TN CUPP:

a.      Located within one of Tennessee’s distressed counties1

b.     Community population less than 10,0002

c.      Median income 50% below state average for the last five years

d.     Home values declining over the last five years

e.     Unemployment 50% higher than the state average over the last five years

f.       Lack of access to fresh food (food desert)3

g.      Persistent public health issues due to environmental issues in the city or community

h.     Heavy industrial or other activities that involve toxic substances and/or waste and located in or near the community

i.        20% of the population living in poverty over the last 30 years

j.       20% of the population comprised of children and adults of retirement age of 65 or older


The mayor or designated community representative may submit a Community TN CUPP letter of interest (LOI) to the TDEC – OPSP to participate in TN CUPP. LOIs should briefly address the aforementioned community qualifications and potential projects of interest which have a focus on supporting TDEC’s mission.  The LOI can be received by emailing Specific project request(s) may also be identified and submitted along with the LOI.



1. Appalachian Regional Commission’s, Index of County Economic Status (2018). 

2. U.S. Census Bureau’s, American Community Survey (2017).

3. USDA’s, Food Access Research Atlas (2018).






This Page Last Updated: September 21, 2021 at 2:32 PM