Economic Mobility

Helping working individuals and families achieve financial stability, independence, and economic mobility


United Way of Greater Knoxville is part of a collaborative effort to help individuals and families achieve financial self-sufficiency through the East Tennessee Collaborative program. Through this program, we are working to reduce poverty, increase economic opportunity pathways, and enhance social supports.

East Tennessee Collaborative

East Tennessee Collaborative (ETC) puts you and your family in charge of creating a path to economic independence.

Through the ETC program, you and your family will:

  1.  Partner with a mentor for up to two years.
  2. Make a plan to achieve your goals.
  3. Earn financial incentives and receive support.
  4. Access skills and opportunities to increase your income and financial wellbeing. 

You may be eligible if you:

  1. Have at least one child age 17 or younger in your home OR are pregnant OR are age 18 or younger and the head of your household.
  2. Are a U.S. citizen and a Tennessee resident.
  3. Are unemployed or underemployed and have low or very low income.
  4. Are interested in pursuing economic independence.
  • The ETC is a grantee of the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Initiative (TOPI).
  • TOPI is a grant brought forth by the TANF Opportunity Act.
  • TOPI helps individuals, families, and the state of Tennessee by creating a new vision for Tennessee’s social safety net and is dedicated to helping low-income families grow beyond their vulnerabilities.
  • TOPI empowers all Tennesseans by partnering with local organizations to reach deep into their communities and work shoulder to shoulder with individuals and families, growing their capacity to take on life’s challenges and reducing their dependence on the social safety net.
  • Mobility Mentors are trained in the EMPath Model and will use the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency as their guide.
  • Mobility Mentors will provide families with coaching and help them plan, reach, and sustain their goals in five essential areas: family stability, well-being, education and training, financial management, and employment and career management.
  • The model is relational, evidence-based, and led by the participant, not the mentor.
  • Currently, nine Mobility Mentors are housed within our partner organizations. We will add six additional Mobility Mentors bringing the total to 15 by Fall 2023.
  • Poverty – and the stress, trauma and oppression that accompany it – affects behavior and decision-making.
  • Using brain science, Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) utilizes a one-to-one coaching approach designed to overcome chronic stress and achieve long-term success.
  • EMPath’s Bridge to Self-Sufficiency is a theory of change that breaks down silos and uses a comprehensive approach to upward economic mobility.
  • The Bridge helps families plan, reach and sustain their personal goals in five essential areas: family stability, well-being, education and training, financial management, and employment and career management.
  • Bridge Assessment PDF

Learn more about this FREE program!
Call: (865) 521-0861

For businesses interested in hiring vetted, skilled applicants seeking long-term employment through the East Tennessee Collaborative program, please contact our team at

This project is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.

Get involved

Use your voice to impact families in our ETC program! We are building a service network of professionals in fields such as workforce development, social services, mental health services, family support, and more to help our families through the mentorship process. Your support of these families will help them achieve economic mobility and self-sufficiency.

Learn how you or your organization can become part of the solution by contacting East Tennessee Collaborative at

Thank you to our ETC Partner Organizations

Contact Us

Want to learn more about East Tennessee Collaborative and economic mobility?

Reach out to get more information!