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Driving The Dream (DTD) envisions a Mid‐South in which all people have equitable access to resources and supports needed to achieve their hopes and dreams by fostering a community where the people we serve are hopeful, resilient, and self‐sufficient.

DTD is leading a movement. Together with our partners, we are building the infrastructure to bridge across service silos and tear down systemic barriers that have prevented equitable access to resources for all Memphis families.  Our collective goal is to help families move out of poverty towards a future of their choosing.

Recognizing that families come in all different shapes and sizes and that challenges facing one family member have a direct impact on the experiences and outcomes of other family members, we have adopted a two-generational (“2Gen”) whole family service delivery model. As part of this effort, we are promoting best practice models proven to move the needle on root cause issues that perpetuate poverty.  We are equipping our partners with the tools and resources they need to change both culture and practice for the better.

Why is this so important for Memphis?

Multi-generational poverty impacts the lives of children and families who live in poverty; it also affects our community overall. Research shows that limited opportunities for individual families lead to fewer opportunities for us a city and region.

The many barriers imposed by living in a poor neighborhood make it that much harder for residents to move up the economic ladder, and their chances of doing so only diminish the longer they live in such neighborhoods. Moreover, in regions where the poor are more segregated into poor places, the dampening effect on mobility extends beyond distressed neighborhoods to lower economic mobility for the region as a whole. ~ Brookings Institute Report 

We know that many families in Memphis don’t have access to the same resources. In 2017, over 24 percent of individuals and 39 percent of children were living at or below the poverty line. Access to affordable safe housing, reliable healthcare, high-quality education, job training, and reliable transportation are not a reality for a large percentage of our community.  

While our local human services sector offers many services to assist under-resourced families, a fragmented and uncoordinated delivery system creates challenges and barriers that prevent families from successfully maximizing these much-needed supports.

2Gen for Tennessee

Driving The Dream is aligned with the two‐generation (“2Gen”) whole family service delivery model that has  been implemented within the Tennessee Department of Human Services. Known as ‘2Gen for Tennessee,’ this approach is consistent with the 2Gen service delivery model, which focuses on creating opportunities  for and addressing the needs of both adults and the children in their lives together. The 2Gen approach recognizes that families come in all different shapes and sizes and that families define themselves.  Our goal is to implement the 2Gen framework within the DTD partner agencies client intake and service delivery model, where all DTD programs are aligned and in synch – ensuring 2Gen tactics are applied when working  with all customers in all aspects of case management and service delivery.

How it works and the expected impact

United Way estimates roughly 20,000 people in poverty can be promptly impacted by Driving The Dream in its early stages if we receive the support we need from donors, grantors, and other sources of philanthropy.

A coalition of local businesses who are all focused on investing in innovative poverty reduction solutions and economic growth strategies will create opportunities for us all. That means nearly 10% of Mid-Southerners in poverty can receive support now, and be connected to resources and opportunities to free them from generational cycles of poverty.

Families and individuals in poverty work with the Driving The Dream providers to create a “map of their dreams,” charting the order of steps, programs, and services necessary to help escape poverty and live the life of their dreams.

Leadership - System Advisory Team

Driving the Dream is guided by the System Advisory Team, which is comprised of leaders from the local health and humans services sector.  This guiding body was established to inform and influence system level practice and policy with the goal of addressing structural inequity that has perpetuated poverty in Memphis/Shelby County.

The DTD mission is to foster a DTD 2Gen community of practice where the people we serve are hopeful, resilient, and self‐sufficient.



ALL DRIVING THE DREAM PARTNERS are trained to employ the Transitions to Success® care model and utilize the Arizona Self-Sufficiency Matrix (learn more & see the matrix here). Partners also centralize information, access client data, track client progress, and make/receive referrals through CoactionNet (a local, shared, web-based database).

Care Coordination Hubs

DTD Care Coordination Hubs are agencies in the network that employ care coordinators. These Care Coordinators work with individuals to create the “Map of My Dreams”  (care plan), refer families to appropriate services, and provide overall service coordination, coaching and support. The Hubs are housed at partner agency sites alongside their core programs, which increases access and eases stress for families seeking DTD services. The 2020 Care Coordination Hub partner agencies are Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, CMI Healthcare Services, Communities In Schools of Memphis (CIS Memphis), Neighborhood Christian Centers, Meritan, and Porter-Leath.

Referral Network Partner Agencies

The DTD Referral Partner network is comprised of human services agencies that agree to adhere to  DTD guiding principles, adopt a common referral platform, participate in an enhanced online shared customer data system, and follow formalized policies and procedures for customer referrals and warm hand‐offs. Their primary responsibilities include informing individuals of services available at the Hubs, referring appropriate individuals to the Hubs, referring individuals to other DTD Referral  Partners, and accepting eligible individuals referred through the DTD network.

Outreach and Education Partner Agencies

Outreach and Education service partners actively reach out to individuals who could potentially benefit from Driving The Dream, educate individuals about DTD and related resources, and connect individuals to a Care Coordination provider. Partners include agencies that frequently interface with clients, such as government agencies providing benefits or direct client services, 2‐1‐1, hospitals, childcare providers, schools, first responders, crisis centers, outreach coalitions, etc.

Driving the Dream is comprised of a number of partners
Funders and Supporters


Cecelia Johnson-Powell

Cecelia Johnson-Powell


Twana Whitlock

Twana Whitlock

Associate Director, Agency Relationships

Eric Burden

Eric Burden

Associate Director, Data and Quality Improvement