Weekly Update


Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Bookmark and Share


By now, you probably know what guides our regular communications with you: We will celebrate Memphis’ momentum, all the while being frank about our challenges.

Today, I want to take a closer look at one of those challenges -- our large percentage of “disconnected” youth, defined as young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. I believe this is a major underlying contributor to many of our significant challenges -- crime, workforce and poverty, among others -- and it’s a big reason why I focus so much on young people.

I am often reminded of a study that was released in the summer of 2015, as I was asking for your vote as mayor. Entitled “Zeroing In on Place and Race,” the study quantified our challenge. In a ranking of America’s largest metro areas, Memphis ranked No. 1 in terms of highest percentage of disconnected youth -- 21.6 percent.

The Great Recession saw this number rise dramatically nationwide. And we see how African-American youth are even more disconnected than the average: In Memphis, 28.6 percent of African-American youth are defined as disconnected, as compared to 13.2 percent for whites.

Disconnected youth, the study tells us, are nearly three times as likely to have left high school without having earned a diploma and are half as likely to have graduated college. They correlate with high rates of poverty, high adult unemployment, and high rates of racial segregation.

I revisited this study earlier this week, after a violent weekend, and had three takeaways that I wanted to share with you:

  1. This issue is massive, and it started decades before I became mayor.
  2. As I perused the study’s recommendations, I realized that we’re already acting on most of them. That reinforced for me that we’re on the right track.
  3. We need your help. I’ll discuss it more in a minute, but I’m asking you to answer our Call to Action at memphistn.gov/calltoaction.

The upshot? We didn’t get here overnight, and we won’t solve this overnight. You elected me for real, long-term solutions to the real, long-term issues we face. The study’s recommendations themselves show that we’re doing that -- but the results will take time.

Congratulations, Keenon and staff: Just this week, the Penguin Random House Foundation awarded its 2017 Library Awards for Innovation -- and our Memphis Public Library, and our director, Keenon McCloy, are among the recipients. I’m particularly proud of this because the awards seek to recognize innovative librarians in the realm of community-based programs.

Best in the state: We already know that the men and women of Memphis Fire are fantastic, but here’s one more piece of evidence: They raised the most Fill the Boot fundraising dollars in the entire state!

Memphis Fire raised $91,938.68 to take the title. The money will go toward the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s local efforts.

Even better? Two of our fire fighters, Sammy Burford and Tavio Taylor, volunteered to collect on even more dates, and they account for nearly $5,000 of the grand total themselves. Also, Station 38, C Shift, raised the most money of all the shifts. 

Call to Action: The benefits of mentoring are real. Here are a couple of numbers to back that up:

  • Mentored youth are 52 percent more likely to stay in school and complete more homework than non-mentored youth.
  • At-risk youth with mentors are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those without a mentor.

Simply put, those numbers are amazing. And to think: We can see that benefit even with you investing just one hour per week.

Are you willing to do that to help make Memphis a better place? Visit memphistn.gov/calltoaction.


Mayor's signature