Weekly Update: Increasing how we support our youth


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The sight of young people in caps and gowns at the Cannon Center is as sure a reminder of summer’s arrival as we have Downtown.

To all the graduates — high school and college — I say congratulations. Wherever you’re heading, I hope you’ll be investing back in Memphis sooner rather than later. There’s never been a better time to take advantage of the momentum in Memphis.

As summer approaches, though, I’m also reminded of something else: How important it is that City of Memphis entities are there to provide our young people with productive outlets. It’s been a priority of mine since taking office on that frigid New Year’s Day in 2016.

Here's what we’ve done in our first two years, combined with what our third budget proposal would mean:

  • We’ve increased summer youth jobs from 1,000 to 1,500. We also launched Hire Memphis, a website that connects youth 16-24 with jobs.
  • We’ve made summer camps at our community centers free — which will accommodate more than 2,000 Memphis youth starting next month. We’ve also introduced a literacy component in those summer camps to reduce the “summer slide.”
  • We’ve returned staffed programming and activities to City parks for the first time in decades. When this launches this summer, 20 parks across the City will have this staffing.
  • We’ve greatly increased library programming. In just the last two years, library programs have increased by 84 percent, overall attendance has increased by 45 percent, and youth attendance has increased by 35 percent.

These are just near-term items, too. I’m especially proud of a long-term item I signed into law a couple of weeks ago: City funding for Pre-Kindergarten.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Positively affecting our young people is the moral calling of our time in Memphis. Connecting youth to these opportunities can help reduce poverty and crime. And, it is just and right to make sure every child has an equal chance to take advantage of our momentum.

If you’re looking for a guide of what all there is to do for young people — or anyone, really — in Memphis this summer, look no further than our “Summer in Memphis” guide.

And one more thing: City pools open for the season tomorrow. Here’s all you need to know about how to take a dip.

Important recognition: We took note of two special commemorations this week at City Hall:

  • National Public Works Week. From paving streets to picking up garbage to clearing drains and to every other task imaginable, our Public Works employees are versatile and certainly work hard. I thank them for all they do.
  • National EMS Week. The emergency medical professionals of Memphis Fire run an ambulance every four minutes. (Think about it: Every four minutes.) I thank them for all they do, too.

More momentum: Everywhere we turn in Memphis, it seems like there’s another visible example of our momentum.

I was proud to share a couple of weeks ago about the potential redevelopment of 100 North Main and a new Loews convention center hotel. And I was proud to share earlier this week that a state board approved the modification of our Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) application — a key step toward a revitalized riverfront that could include the relocation of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and an aquarium as part of a total re-do of Mud Island River Park.

Please know that TDZ projects are paid for by the sales taxes generated from the project — thus not robbing a dime from the operating budget we use to pay for core services like police and fire. And, by law, TDZ money must be used to construct buildings that attract tourists. They cannot be used to fund City operations, such as salaries or paving streets.

My commitment to you was always to pull every lever of government to finance major developments that Memphis deserves — all while not touching our general fund. I continue to keep that promise.

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