Bridges Out of Poverty - Resources in the Upper Cumberland

Last Updated by Kate Spears on

Did you know that more than one in four Tennessee children lives in poverty? Tennessee’s ranking on overall child well-being recently slipped from 36 to 38, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2016 KIDS COUNT® Data Book. The change can be linked to worsening economic indicators such as unemployment as well as underemployment, growing debt, rising healthcare costs, and increased housing expenses just to name a few. 

The KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks child well-being in states across four domains. Tennessee’s overall ranking at 38 was compiled from its rankings of 42 on Economic Well-Being, 36 on Education, 28 on Health and 39 on Family and Community. Each domain is made up of four indicators. To find more information about Tennessee KIDS COUNT Data, click here. 

Twenty four percent of children in Tennessee live in poverty, while 37% of Tennessee's children dwell in single parent homes. The federal poverty rate for a family of four is $24,036. 

Effects of this situation are felt in the Upper Cumberland as well where the poverty rate is approximately 34%. 60.3% of students in Putnam County are on free or reduced lunch. We know that growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development. Poverty and financial stress can impede a child's cognitive development as well as threaten their ability to learn. What's more, poverty can contribute to behavioral, social and emotional problems and poor health. 

One important local organization working to combat poverty in the Upper Cumberland is the Cookeville Rescue Mission.

For 40 years, the nonprofit Cookeville Rescue Mission has provided emergency, temporary shelter for the homeless. Offering two residential buildings plus a chapel, general store, salon and dental clinic, the Rescue Mission offers assistance lasting from three to 30 days for men, women and families in need. The Rescue Mission also operates Step Upward Farm, a seven-acre working farm that offers a three- to nine-month program designed to help young, troubled fathers turn their lives around.

So far in 2016, the Rescue Mission has served the needs of 800 individuals. 

Have you or anyone you know been affected by poverty? Have you ever wondered where you might sleep on any given night, or where your next meal might come from? 

If you have a warm safe home and no fear of losing it, perhaps homelessness isn't something that worries you. But as something that does affect members of our community, we believe it's important to spread the message of awareness. 

Maybe homelessness seems to you like something that only affects people in big cities such as New York or Chicago. But in fact, homelessness affects members of our own community for many of the same reasons. Including the following: 

  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Physical disability
  • Developmental difficulties
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Educational deficiencies
  • Learning disabilities
  • Addiction
  • Severe family dysfunction
  • No family or significant support system
  • Criminal history
  • Limited occupational skill set
  • Life skill deficiency
  • Long term institutionalization
  • Transportation deficiencies
  • Generational poverty 

Homelessness doesn't discriminate. It isn't about age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Intelligence, level of education or previous success/affluence in life often doesn't matter at all. We urge you to take a minute and watch this video with the stories of real people who are struggling with homelessness. It will make you rethink homelessness. 

We welcome two very special guests on this week's Get Ready To Learn radio  show - Luke Eldridge, B.S., a PATH case Manager and Ryan Henry, Community Engagement Director  at Cookeville Rescue Mission. The Rescue Mission offers Mission Central (Manned 24 Hours) which you can reach at 931-528-5819. Or call the Rescue Mission Office at 931-520-7003. Luke Eldridge can be reached at (931) 510-7907. 

WCTE is proud to partner with these local organizations and work together to put get resources into the hands of those who need them. One way that we are working to do this is through our Bridges Out of Poverty Training, made possible through our partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. 

Join local leaders at this interactive workshop which will help members of the community better understand the limitations of living in poverty and how we as a community can enable change.
This Bridges Out of Poverty workshop is based on Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities by Ruby Payne, Phil DeVol, and Terie Dreussi-Smith. The workshop offers many insights into the mindsets of people in poverty and the hidden rules by which they live.

This workshop will get the conversation started about ways our community can unite to help everyone who is faced with living in poverty. ($15 registration includes a workbook. Registration and networking  8:30 am - noon). Workshop will be lead by Cynthia Putman, Bridges Out of Poverty Certified Trainer; WCTE Ready to Learn Tools Facilitator and District Specialist for Putnam County Schools.


Tune in each Saturday morning at 9:30 for the WCTE Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, with host Cindy Putman on Zimmer Broadcasting's The HUB 107.7 FM and 1400 AM. 

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WCTE’s Educational Team can customize workshops or professional development trainings for your group or organization. For workshop information, or to inquire about scheduling a workshop, call 921-528-2222 x. 227 or email us.

Topics are listed below:

  • Using Media as a learning tool
  • Using PBS kids apps to extend learning
  • How to be your child’s first teacher
  • Sesame Street Workshops
  • How does poverty effect a child’s brain
  • Literacy and Math
  • Brain Development

Workshops can be conducted in English and Spanish.