May 5, 2022 Tennessee RiverLine Announces 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Community Impact Grant Awardees

_The More Than $30,000 In Grant Funds Will Support DEI Programs Across Tennessee River Communities.

The Tennessee RiverLine, North America’s next great regional trail system, has awarded 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Community Impact Grants to three Tennessee RiverTowns communities across the region, including Clifton, Tennessee; Paducah/McCracken County, Kentucky; and The Shoals, Alabama.

Made possible through the generous support of Tennessee RiverLine principal partners, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, grant funds will support community programs and events throughout 2022 that promote inclusive engagement with the Tennessee River landscape, enable diverse participation in Tennessee River experiences and establish pride and ownership of river spaces by historically underserved populations.

Nose of a kayak with river and sunset in background

“Many residents of our diverse Tennessee River communities enjoy interacting with the river through paddling, hiking and other activities, but some who call the Tennessee River Valley home face barriers to experiencing the river in these rich and inspiring ways,” said Brad Collett, Tennessee RiverLine director and associate professor in UT’s Herbert College of Agriculture and College of Architecture and Design. “Some may feel unable to participate in river experiences or unwelcome in river spaces due to a range of socio-economic, cultural and physical factors. In partnership with TVA and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and as an extension of our shared missions, we have developed the Tennessee RiverLine DEI Community Impact Grant program to help overcome barriers to access and establish the Tennessee RiverLine as an inclusive and welcoming space for all.”

Communities enrolled in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program were invited to apply for up to $10,000 in support of DEI-focused initiatives and programs. To foster interagency collaboration and facilitate community engagement, each grantee will implement funded programs and events alongside strategic community partners that work directly with the populations each initiative seeks to serve.

Grant funds in Clifton, Tennessee, will support the purchase of a fully equipped kayak fleet to facilitate paddling events for individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities as well as local youth. Through partnerships with local organizations serving communities of color, Paducah/McCracken County, Kentucky, will utilize grant funding to provide free beginner swim lessons to youth and adults. The Shoals, Alabama, in turn, plans to host a series of river events between May and July for LGBTQ+ youth and their families.

“TVA is committed to DEI and applauds these Tennessee RiverTowns for their DEI-focused incentives and programs. These grant recipients are making investments in their communities that encourage the continued creation of real, sustainable change. TVA’s mission, to make life better for the people of the Tennessee Valley, is enhanced by the work of these communities,” said Allen Clare, TVA Vice President, River & Resources Stewardship.

The three 2022 DEI Community Impact Grant awardees are enrolled in the Tennessee RiverLine’s Tennessee RiverTowns Program, a multi-year framework for collaboration among enrolled communities and Tennessee RiverLine staff to realize the vision for North America’s next great regional trail system.

To learn more about the 2022 DEI Community Impact Grant awardees, their 2022 projects and the Tennessee RiverLine’s commitment to establishing equitable access to river experiences, visit the Tennessee RiverLine news page.

About the Tennessee RiverLine
The Tennessee RiverLine is North America’s next great regional trail system, a historic multi-generational initiative that offers economic development, public health, resource stewardship and equitable access benefits to 2.4 million people in diverse Tennessee River communities in four states. The Tennessee RiverLine is led by the UT School of Landscape Architecture, which is a partnership of the UT College of Architecture and Design and the Herbert College of Agriculture, and principal partners, UT Knoxville, and TVA, in collaboration with the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership, a diverse consortium of organizations committed to realizing the vision for the Tennessee RiverLine. For more information, visit