Weekly Update: A summer of connecting youth with opportunity


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How have we at the City of Memphis positively impacted the lives of our young people this summer? Check out these numbers:

  • Community center summer campers have had 3,000,000 minutes of reading/writing instruction through our literacy skills program in partnership with Literacy Mid-South.
  • That’s just at the community centers. Our libraries have been at it, too. Just the 100-plus kids participating at Gaston library alone have logged 46,920 minutes of reading.
  • We made our summer camps free in community centers for the first time this year. So far, we’ve had 33,929 camper-days.
  • Some 13,000 Memphians attended the 750 great programs of Explore Memphis, the libraries’ summer programming, in June alone.
  • We launched the Play Your Parks program this summer, bringing programmed and supervised play activities to 20 neighborhood parks. Thus far, youth have had 3,440 hours of free activities.
  • Summer jobs are a huge part of what we do. We’ve had 1,500 young people participate in MPLOY — our youth summer jobs program. That’s the second time we’ve been able to increase that count under our administration. Also, 383 youth have participated in the Memphis Ambassadors Program, our year-round group. (Even more, Williams Sonoma stepped up to employ 99 more young people. Thanks, Williams Sonoma!)
  • Sports are big through the summer, too. We’ve had 431 kids participate in evening basketball leagues, 417 kids in soccer programs at the May Soccer Complex, and 260 youth receiving free golf lessons.
  • And here’s a cool one: We’ve given free swimming lessons to 425 young people thus far this summer.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Positively affecting our young people is the moral calling of our time in this city. I am so proud of the progress we’ve made in our first two and a half years with City programming for young people, and I’m eager for even more improvements in the coming years.

I hope these numbers show how we’re taking action every single day.

Two birds, one set of contracts: This week, I continued our commitments both to a clean city and to growing small and minority owned businesses when I signed 22 contracts worth around $1.4 million for grass and weed mitigation — a fancy term for cutting privately owned overgrown lots around the city.

All of those contracts were awarded through our small business enterprise sheltered market program — and 100 percent were awarded to minority-owned and small business firms.

This is a great example of how different entities of City government can work together to accomplish two goals with one task.

Pardon our paving progress: This week, one of our contractors (photo below) began work on one of the many street paving projects we have in town — this one on Tuggle Road in the southeast industrial corridor. You’re going to see more and more paving operations in our city in the next few weeks and months, so please be alert, drive slow, and make room for our progress.

We have doubled street paving from just four years ago — bringing our paving cycle, or the approximate frequency of repaving for a particular street, back to the national standard of once every 25 years. A few years back, we were on a 75-year cycle. That means we have a years-old backlog, yes — but we are tackling it.

As always, you can see our upcoming paving plans on a map here.


Our work to reduce crime: WREG-TV had a good story this week on the Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force, a collaboration with multiple local law enforcement agencies, including the Memphis Police Department. A few weeks back, we shared in this space just how tough the U.S. Attorney’s Office is getting on violent felons who carry guns.

Reducing violent crime is our No. 1 priority, because it's your No. 1 priority — all across Memphis. It's a team effort, and this partnership with local agencies is showing results.

Heads up: Remember those closures around Poplar Avenue and Interstate 240 we talked about a couple of weeks ago? They start this weekend, with Poplar eastbound and westbound closed at the I-240 interchange from 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.

Right-sizing our city: You may have seen this in the news, but in case you missed our Monday announcement, we proposed two additional areas for de-annexation. We’ll be presenting our case to the City Council in the coming weeks and will update you on the progress.

Right-sizing Memphis is the right choice. For too long, we grew only by annexation. In our third century, we must grow from our core and our neighborhoods — building up, not out. Increasing our population density through de-annexation will help us deliver more efficient core services, which will aid that goal.

It’s a long-term move for the health of our city — and those are exactly the moves you elected me to make.

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