State Spotlight Blog: Two-Generation Approach in Minnesota and Tennessee

In recent years, Two-Generation (“2Gen”) approaches to combatting poverty have garnered significant attention. The 2Gen model targets low-income children and parents from the same household, combining parent and child interventions to support and empower the whole family. Research has consistently shown positive outcomes as a result of this approach, and many Community Action Agencies (CAAs) across the country were early pioneers and implementers of 2Gen solutions. Several state CSBG offices have also worked to implement a 2Gen, whole-family approach on a statewide scale:


Building on existing work, in July 2018 the Office of Economic Opportunity within the Minnesota Department of Human Services launched an initiative to build 2Gen knowledge and advance 2Gen/Whole Family approaches in Minnesota. With the goal of increasing communication and collaboration within and across the Community Action, Head Start, and MN 2Gen networks, a work group was established to plan a 2Gen/Whole Family Convening. The work group included representatives from the State Office and MN Department of Human Services, Minnesota Head Start, a local CAA involved in a national 2Gen learning cohort, MN 2Gen network, and the National Community Action Partnership.

In planning the statewide convening event, the work group developed the following five goals:

  • Create a spirit of learning and exploring together and uncover 2Gen efforts in Minnesota; Connect the Minnesota Community Action network, Head Start programs, MN 2Gen network, and Minnesota Tribal programs;
  • Foster shared learning and deepen understanding of what 2Gen is developing a common foundation to move forward together;
  • Create space for interaction and productive team time for participants to craft action plans so they leave with a sense of direction for next steps to advance 2Gen efforts; and,
  • Lay groundwork for future 2Gen efforts by addressing coordination opportunities, funding opportunities, and future learning and sharing events.

The State CSBG Office provided leadership and coordination for this work group. In planning conversations, the group leveraged the experience of Minnesota’s emerging 2Gen initiatives along with the expertise of the National Community Action Partnership. The resulting event convened over 100 people from across the state from more than 30 agencies.

Two-Generation Graphic- The Aspen Institute



The Tennessee Department of Human Services has become a leader in facilitating the Two Generation Whole Family Approach (WFA) at the state level. As a result, 16 of the State’s 20 CAAs have begun to move to a 2Gen model of service with agencies offering some type of case management or self-sufficiency programming.

The Department facilitated an initiative titled “Transition to Success”, an evidence-based model to build agency capacity and improve customer outcomes. Three CSBG staff members became certified Transition to Success trainers and trained all 20 agencies across the state in the Transition to Success   model, which builds upon Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA). Transition to Success also incorporates promising practices such as motivational interviewing, brain science, and trauma-informed approaches in an effort to increase agency capacity and improve the services and strategies provided to customers.

As a result of these efforts, many Tennessee agencies have moved toward a transformational approach to develop, strengthen, or expand Two Generation WFA strategies. Agencies also tailored their integrative service strategy to the unique needs of their communities. For example, two agencies used a 2Gen approach to guide their services and strategies to respond to the opioid epidemic which is particularly prevalent in their area.