We are
dedicated to strengthening families.

First Things First (FTF) is an award-winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families in Hamilton County, Tennessee through education, collaboration and mobilization.

FTF is a community resource that collaborates with and is supported by a broad cross-section of community organizations, groups and individuals.

When was FTF started?

A group of civic leaders came together in 1997 to form a community-wide initiative to rebuild, renew and revitalize our city, beginning with the family. These leaders recognized that the strength of our community and the future of our city lie in the health of the family.

What is the problem?


Hamilton adults have been divorced


of Hamilton households with kids that are headed by females


of dads say fathers should be more active

Chattanooga has a reputation for setting standards. But beneath the community’s growth, environmental health and booming economy lies the hidden fact that many families are in crisis. Divorce, absent fathers and unwed births are compromising the future of Hamilton County.

Most residents agree that the family is the main building block of society. Still we must face:

27% of Hamilton County adults have been divorced.

Hamilton County teenagers (ages 10-17) in 2010 accounted for 105 births. Down from 242 in 2002.

Of the 40,169 households with children under 18 years old in Hamilton County, 29.9% (12,012) are headed by females.

77% of dads in Chattanooga say that fathers should be more active in the lives of their children.

What is First Things First's vision?

In an effort to reverse the trends of destructive relationships and to strengthen the infrastructure of our community, First Things First:

Advocates for a strong, healthy, lifelong marriage

Promotes the fact that it is imperative for both mothers and fathers to be active in the lives of their children

Works to prevent out of wedlock pregnancies

How can we strengthen our families?

FTF has three strategic goals to meet:

Reduce the number of divorce filings in Hamilton County.

Reduce out of wedlock pregnancies in Hamilton County.

Increase sufficient father involvement in Hamilton County.

How will we accomplish this?


Use credible research to identify significant problems facing Hamilton County, emphasizing families and youth.


Identify solutions based on credible research; measure the effectiveness of these solutions based on credible, empirical data; and evaluate the impact of these potential solutions.


Build broad public support for values-based solutions through advocacy, communication and collaboration rather than providing direct client services.


Empower and equip local leaders and professionals who work with families and also promote values-based solutions, and to provide support that advances their effectiveness.

Recent Outcomes

7,482 teens

Who completed healthy dating relationship skills classes said they now know how to identify an unhealthy or unsafe relationship.

86% of engaged couples

Who completed premarital education with us are still married with "high satisfaction" in their marriage.

83% of married couples

Did not follow through with divorce after attending an experience for marriages in distress.

$8.5 million

Taxpayer dollars saved due to our Dads Making a Difference class.



Awards and Acknowledgements


Nonprofit of the Year by the Chattanooga Chamber


Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics by the Chattanooga Better Business Bureau


Urban League's Vision Award


Best of the Best Nonprofit for 4 years in a row by the Chattanooga Times Free Press


Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility


Visions award by the Tennessee Association of Family and Consumer Sciences


Several Addy and Telly awards for creative media messaging

FTF’s success has generated model duplication efforts nationwide, and has garnered international attention for its award-winning leadership concerning family and relationship issues, specifically in the areas of fatherhood, marriage and parenting.

Meet our fantastic team

Financials & Report Cards

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