July 9, 2020 Print

The Beacon Center of Tennessee—an Atlas Network partner based in Nashville—is driving a storytelling campaign, Poverty to Prosperity, to reduce generational webs of poverty throughout the state. The campaign highlights the true grit and perseverance it takes for people to disentangle themselves from welfare programs and move to financial independence in Tennessee.  Poverty to Prosperity has proved to be successful, reaching over 2.6 million residents and gaining the attention of key lawmakers. 

“One in six Tennesseans currently live in poverty and too often, our welfare programs serve as multi-generational spider webs rather than temporary safety nets,” says Jamie McPherson, vice president of development at the Beacon Center. McPherson claims that bad welfare policies are the culprit and often discourage, if not outright punish personal initiative. 

The Beacon Center illuminated the need for welfare reform by using the voice of real life Tennesseans, like Debra Nutall. Nutall, an aspiring hair braider, lived on government assistance for years but later gained her financial independence after turning her passion into a business. Her story is representative of many Tennesseans, who have battled to overcome the barriers and perverse incentives of the current welfare programs. 

The Beacon Center’s work has earned it the reputation as the go-to source for solutions for welfare and poverty reform in Tennessee, and it is anticipated that the state legislature plans to prioritize welfare reform in the 2021 legislative cycle. 

“Beacon's partnership with Atlas Network is invaluable,” concluded McPherson. “The Beacon Center is known for punching above our weight with a small and nimble team. Atlas Network gives us the tools and resources to execute our strategic mission and we couldn't be more proud or thankful for their partnership.” 

The Beacon Center was also recently featured in Atlas Network’s Upward Globility series.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee received a JUMP grant for the Poverty to Prosperity storytelling project.