Building Strong Brains Tennessee


Building Strong Brains Tennessee (BSBTN) has as its mission to address, prevent, and mitigate adverse childhood experiences in order to increase the potential of every child in the state to lead a healthy, productive life. Established in 2015 as a public-private partnership, BSBTN is working to change the culture of Tennessee so the state’s overarching philosophy, policies, programs, and practices support the healthy development of children, youth, and young adults.

ACE Awareness Foundation has been a close-in partner of BSBTN from the start. The foundation was a member of a coordinating team of key stakeholders formed to lay the groundwork for an ACEs-related statewide messaging strategy and provide overall guidance, and administrative oversight. In collaboration with The Healing Trust, the foundation funded FrameWorks, a nonprofit think tank, to conduct activities that would enable BSBTN to communicate about childhood adversity and its effects on brain development in ways that would help frame the public discourse and build public will to support progressive change. ACE Awareness Foundation also underwrote the initial evaluation of BSBTN, including the Tennessee public awareness survey, and continues to serve as a member of the Private Sector Steering Group. Comprised of community organizations, advocates, trade associations, providers, foundations, and researchers, the group serves as extenders of BSBTN’s mission and as implementers of ACEs-informed strategies both within their organizations and throughout their local community and region.  In addition, the foundation provides support for BSBTN activities for which state funds cannot be used.

More than 1,000 individuals have been trained by BSBTN in the application of communication science to brain science through a statewide training-for-trainers program that has reached more than 60,000 professionals and practitioners across a range of sectors and disciplines. BSBTN has also awarded 35 Community Innovations grants (see FY20 grantees in map below) which have helped to forge interdisciplinary and interprofessional partnerships and increased the number of communities informed about how to prevent and mitigate ACEs as well as charted paths for grassroots knowledge mobilization and community impact.

BSBTN is continuing to: 

    1. Raise awareness and increasing public knowledge about ACEs
    2. Impact Tennessee public policy to support ACEs prevention and reduce community conditions that contribute to them
    3. Seek sustainable funding to ensure the state maintains a long-term commitment to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences
    4. Support innovative local and state projects that offer new ways of thinking about ACEs and measuring the impact of efforts to address ACEs and toxic stress in children

For more information about Building Strong Brains Tennessee, visit