Tennessee stretches from the scenic Great Smoky Mountains of the east to the banks of the Mississippi River in the west. Tennessee covers 41,217 square miles, with a 2012 estimated population of 6,456,243 people – with 1,689,217 living in rural Tennessee (USDA-ERS). Nashville is the state capital. The state’s largest cities are Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 79.5% of the state’s population is white, 16.9% is Black/African-American, and 4.7% is of Hispanic/Latino origin (2011).
There are 134 hospitals in Tennessee (Kaiser, 2010), 16 of which are identified by the Flex Monitoring Team as Critical Access Hospitals (March 2013). There are 63 Rural Health Clinics in Tennessee (Kaiser, 2012) and 23 Federally Qualified Health Centers provide services at 147 sites in the state (Kaiser, 2010). 14.0% of Tennessee residents lack health insurance (Kaiser, 2011).
According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average per-capita income for Tennessee residents in 2011 was $36,567, although rural per-capita income lagged at $29,376. Estimates from 2011 indicate a poverty rate of 21.3% exists in rural Tennessee, compared to 17.3% in urban areas of the state. 2011 ACS data reports that 22.3% of the rural population has not completed high school, compared to 14.7% of urban populations. The unemployment rate in rural Tennessee is 11.1%, while in urban Tennessee, it is 8.5% (USDA-ERS, 2011).
For a national comparison, please see an overview of the United States.
U.S. Census Bureau: State & County QuickFacts; USDA Economic Research Service: State Fact Sheets; Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts; Flex Monitoring Team: Critical Access Hospital List; Tennessee State Office of Rural Health
Appalachian Community Fund (ACF)
Provides resources and support to grassroots organizations working to overcome the underlying causes of poverty and injustice in Central Appalachia (East Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and West Virginia).
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)
Supports economic and social development in all of West Virginia and parts of twelve other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
A nonprofit working to bring people and causes together by ensuring the stewardship of charitable funds and the investment of grants made in 43 counties in Middle Tennessee and parts of Kentucky.
Community Resource Group (CRG)
Assists rural communities in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas to solve water and waste disposal problems and provides information technology guidance to nonprofit organizations.
HUD Community Development Block Grants: Tennessee
Contact information for the State CDBG program. Provides funding for community development projects.
National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region (NN/LM SE/A)
Works to improve access to health information for health care providers, librarians, and the public in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia.
South Central Telehealth Resource Center
One of the telehealth resource centers funded by the federal Office for the Advancement of Telehealth. Assists health care organizations, health care networks, and health care providers in the implementation of cost-effective telehealth programs to serve rural and medically underserved areas and populations. Includes Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC)
One of four regional rural development centers in the nation. Works to strengthen the region's 29 land-grant institutions in addressing rural development issues. Serves a 13 state area in the Southern region which includes TX, LA, AR, OK, AL, MS, GA, FL, KY, SC, NC, VA, and TN.
Tennessee Area Health Education Center Program (AHEC)
Strives to improve the supply and distribution of health care professionals-with an emphasis on primary care-in urban and rural Tennessee. This website provides information on and contact details for each of the three regional AHECs in the state.
Tennessee Association of Community Action
Works to empower local agencies through advocacy, training, and the provision of technical assistance to promote self-sufficiency and personal growth in the individuals, families and communities of Tennessee.
Tennessee Department of Health
Works to improve the health of all Tennessee residents.
Tennessee Department of Health: Division of Minority Health and Disparity Elimination (DMHDE)
Serves as a central point for the Department on minority health issues in Tennessee.
Tennessee Department of Human Services
Provides adult and family services, child support, and rehabilitation services.
Tennessee Hospital Association (THA)
Works to lead members in advocacy for and support of community-based hospitals and health systems and to assist them in delivering accessible, cost-effective, quality health services.
Tennessee Office of Rural Health
Works to improve and enhance the accessibility, availability, and affordability of quality health care in Tennessee by creating a central focus and coordination of rural health care resources. A division of the Tennessee Department of Health.
Tennessee Primary Care Association (TNPCA)
Commits to maximizing access to health care for all Tennesseans with emphasis on the medically underserved.
Tennessee Regional Extension Center (tnREC)
Tennessee State Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (REC) that helps health care providers become meaningful users of electronic health records by providing information and technical assistance.
Tennessee Rural Health Association (RHAT)
The Rural Health Association of Tennessee works to improve the policies and practices of health programs and services in Tennessee.
Tennessee Rural Partnership (TRP)
Helps match primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, and behavioral health professionals with rural and underserved Tennessee communities in need of a healthcare provider.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Tennessee (HUD)
Works to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing. The HUD state office provides information about HUD housing programs and local contacts for the state.
USDA Rural Development Tennessee State Office
Committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in all of rural America. The Rural Development State Office provides information about Rural Development programs and applications for financial assistance.
ERS State Fact Sheet: Tennessee
Lists statistics on population, educational attainment, employment, income, farm characteristics, and farm financial indicators for the state.
National Healthcare Quality Report State Snapshot: Tennessee
Health care quality report for the state, based on the National Healthcare Quality Report.
NN/LM Southeastern Atlantic Region: Tennessee Resources
Overview of the state, with links to state agencies, health associations, and other resources for Tennessee.
Southern Rural Development Center: Success Stories
Describes successful programs involving states within the coverage region of the Southern Rural Development Center: stories currently feature Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas.
Tennessee AgrAbility Project
Provides individualized services on the farm or at the work setting to help disabled individuals return to farming, the community and independent living.
Tennessee Health Centers Data
Provides access to information on Federally Qualified Health Centers for the state. Includes a map of FQHC locations, as well as information on the populations served by health centers, services provided, staff, patient visits, costs of care, and use of electronic health information.
Tennessee KIDS COUNT Data Center (KCDC)
Provides data on child well-being for the state.
Basic demographic and economic statistics for the state, with links to county-level data.
Tennessee State Health Facts
The latest state-level data on demographics, health, and health policy, including health coverage, access, financing, and state legislation. Individual state profiles and 50-state comparisons.
See also: State-by-State Resources: Tools
Aetna Foundation Regional Grants
Funds community wellness initiatives focusing on healthy food and activity that serve low-income, underserved, or minority populations.
Appalachian Community Fund Technical Assistance Grants
Funding for technical assistance needs for community-based organizations that address underlying causes of economic and social distress in the Appalachian region.
Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee Grants
Offers grants to nonprofit organizations in Tennessee working in a broad spectrum of areas, including health, housing, community development, human services, education, arts, and employment.
Community Resource Group (CRG) Loan Fund
Loans to help small, rural communities and tribal nations with water and wastewater projects.
Delta Regional Authority States Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP)
Grants to help Delta communities create jobs and improve infrastructure.
Gannett Foundation Community Action Grants
Supports local organizations with funding priority given to programs that focus on education and neighborhood improvement, economic development, youth development, community problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged people, environmental conservation, and cultural enrichment.
Georgia-Pacific Foundation Grants
Grants for organizations projects that focus on education, the environment, community enhancement, affordable housing, arts and culture, and entrepreneurship.
Mission and Ministry Fund Planning and Project Grants
Grants to build community capacity and work in collaboration with others to implement action plans that address specific, documented community needs.
Mission and Ministry Fund Violence Prevention Grant
Funds may be requested to cover the costs of community-based planning, conducting community meetings, assessing community violence-related assets and needs, continuing specific community-based violence prevention efforts and related activities.
National Network of Libraries of Medicine Southeaster/Atlantic Region Funding
Provides funding for National Network of Libraries members located in the Southeaster/Atlantic region to assist them in conducting outreach and technology projects.
Rural Health IT Workforce Loan Fund
Loans for health care providers in underserved communities to successfully adopt and utilize a Health IT system.
Wells Fargo Corporate Giving Programs
Funding for nonprofit organizations in the areas of community development, education, human services, arts and culture, civic responsibility, and environmental consciousness.
Inactive Funding Opportunities -
Lists additional funding programs for this state that are not currently accepting applications. Programs that are inactive may be offered again in the future.
Documents, Reports and Other Publications
Around the Country: Network Brings Better, More Efficient Care to Cardiac Patients in 68 Counties
Author(s): Candi Helseth
Sponsoring organization: Rural Assistance Center
Highlights the Saint Thomas Chest Pain Network in Tennessee and Kentucky, which is proving that moving patients into and through a system quickly and efficiently is critical to saving lives.
Journal citation: Rural Monitor Volume 2012 Issue Winter
Date: 02 / 2012
Demographic and Economic Profile: Tennessee
Author(s): Kathleen K. Miller
Sponsoring organization: Rural Policy Research Institute
Discusses demographic and economic data including population, race, education, age, poverty, income, and more. Includes maps and graphics.
Date: 02 / 2009
Housing in the Mississippi Delta
Sponsoring organization: Housing Assistance Council
Provides statistics and describes the housing needs of the Mississippi Delta region that will require multi-level approaches to address the social, political, and economic infrastructure of the region.
Date: 10 / 2011
Long-Term Impacts of Retiree In-Migration on Rural Areas: A Case Study of Cumberland County, Tennessee
Sponsoring organization: University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service
Summarizes a report commissioned by the Institute for Public Service to inform state, local, and regional officials, and other interested individuals about the various impacts of a substantial influx of in-migrant retirees (IMRs) on a rural community.
Date: 01 / 2007
Patterns of Care in Tennessee: Use of Rural vs. Non-rural Facilities
Author(s): Steven L. Coulter, Stephen G. Jones, J. Payne Carden
Sponsoring organization: BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Institute
Presents patterns of care for rural residents of Tennessee, primarily where they go to receive health care services.
Date: 09 / 2012
Profiles of State Innovation: Roadmap for Managing Long-Term Supports and Services
Author(s): Alice Link, Suzanne Gore, Lindsay Barnette, Stephen Somers
Sponsoring organization: Center for Health Care Strategies
Identifies five states that demonstrate expertise in managed care approaches for individuals with long-term care needs. States included are Arizona, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Date: 11 / 2010
Small Business Profile: Tennessee
Sponsoring organization: Small Business Administration
Profile of the state's economy, covering the number of firms, industry composition, small business income, banking, women and minority business ownership, and employment.
Date: 2 / 2013
Southern Rural Development Center: 2012 Annual Report
Sponsoring organization: Southern Rural Development Center
Describes the programs and progress of the Southern Rural Development Center, one of four regional centers coordinating rural development research and extension education programs.
USDA Rural Development 2012 Progress Report
Sponsoring organization: USDA Rural Development
Reports on investments made by USDA Rural Development intended to have a lasting, sustainable impact on rural American by supporting economic growth, broadband implementation, housing programs, and public utility projects. Features programs implemented in Minnesota, Georgia, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Louisiana, Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, Colorado, Florida, and Wisconsin. Reports total funds granted to each of the 50 states from 2009 - 2012.
See also: State-by-State Resources: Documents
Tellico Plains Full-Service, School-Based Clinic
The school-based clinic was designed to address several health problems in the community by improving the physical health status of school-age children in Tellico Plains and surrounding communities and by identifying and treating health problems and ensuring followup care.
Public Health Certificates Offered Online
The Tennessee Department of Health created an online training program where department staff can earn certificates in applied epidemiology, health leadership or healthcare management.
Cherokee Health Systems Rural Outreach Project
Cherokee Health Systems proposed a collaborative health outreach project to address issues like language barriers, lack of trust in the health care system, and, in many cases, more pressing human needs—such as social services, food, and clothing in this predominately rural Appalachian region.