Weekly Update

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Last week, I summarized the extensive evidence that our criminal justice system is broken. It is a revolving door for too many violent criminals and almost all car thieves.  You can review it here.

Today, I want to remind you of some of the things we are doing to help people succeed in life and avoid traveling down the wrong road.  In partnership with the city council, we have:

  • Doubled the number of youth summer jobs
  • More than doubled youth library and athletic programming
  • Significantly increased the programs and participation in our community centers
  • Implemented Universal Pre-K for families who cannot afford to pay for it in partnership with MSCS and Shelby County
  • Expanded the successful Boys and Girls Clubs after-schools program at Craigmont High School to 10 additional schools in partnership with MSCS
  • Implemented a gun violence intervention program (GVIP)
  • Expanded second chance programs to help those individuals who have paid their debt to society and are committed to turning their lives around
  • Raised private dollars to pay for the expungement fees for 2,400 non-violent felons and for the restoration of drivers’ licenses for 203 persons
  • Worked with companies like Kroger, Vanguard Soap, and divisions within city government to employ dozens of men and women who have successfully completed our second chance programs
  • Implemented the Public Service Corps where the city hires persons with criminal records to pick up litter and helps prepare them for a true career
  • Implemented a program for opportunity youth (ages 16 – 24 who are not in school and not employed) to guide them to further education or workforce readiness
  • Implemented a program for teens with disabilities to help prepare them for a more independent life
  • Aggressive economic development and creating more good paying jobs

Here are some highlights of these initiatives. 

Manhood University and Women Offering Women Support (WOWS) are our second chance programs giving those individuals with criminal records help in reaching their potential.  As of July 2022, 1,066 men had graduated the program, and in 2022, of the 169 graduates, 82 had found employment.  In WOWS, 268 women had graduated since the inception, and of the 63 graduates this year, 33 got a job.  Here are some real-life examples of the work.

Opportunity Memphis R3 (Rethinking, Rebuilding, Rebranding) helps those ages 16 to 24 who have disconnected from schools and employment.  We offer them a guided path to further education or workforce readiness.  To date, we have had 71 participants, with 69 of those either enrolled in school, are awaiting enrollment in school, working or received State certifications.  To understand the challenges faced by these young people, please read some of their stories: (here, here, and here).

We were recognized by the White House earlier this year for these programs.

Creating jobs is very important for all Memphians, and there have never been more job opportunities than now.  We broke a record earlier this year for the number of employed persons in our community, and partnered with UpSmith for free workforce training at a city facility this summer.

Also, there are thousands of good paying jobs available right now, and lots of opportunities for free workforce development.  See opportunitymemphis.com.

Going the Wrong Way”:  The long-term solution to crime is more young people choosing the right path in life. Giving them productive activities when they are not in school is an absolute must to achieve that result. This has been true for a long time. 

This summer, I watched a biography on basketball great Bill Russell.  He grew up in inner city Oakland, California, and a friend of his said, “The area we were in, it was a narrow line between being ok and going the wrong way.”  He credited the Boys Club with helping so many young men, including Mr. Russell, of being better basketball players and people.

For about five years, MSCS and the Boys and Girls Club of Memphis (BGCM) have partnered on after-school activities at Craigmont High School, and the results are fantastic: 100% of club members have graduated high school and 100% have gone onto higher education, joined the military, or gotten a job.  If every child in Memphis could be part of this program, Memphis would instantly improve.

Last year, we partnered with MSCS and BGCM and expanded the Craigmont model to 10 additional high schools, and as a result, a couple thousand more teens are getting high quality after-school programming.  As a community, we need to do more and more so every child in Memphis has quality after-school activities.

The giving spirit: There are so many people who deserve credit for the progress that we see throughout Memphis these days. Among the many local leaders who are responsible for the city's transformation, the late Tommy Pacello was one of the most beloved. Tommy and I are both University of Memphis Law School graduates, and I enjoyed working with him on efforts to breathe new life into many of our city's core city neighborhoods. When we lost him to cancer two years ago, Memphis lost one of its most creative, innovative, and energetic champions, whose impact can be felt throughout the Memphis Medical District, Uptown, South Main, Broad Avenue, and many other neighborhoods.

To commemorate his great work and to inspire the next generation of great city-builders, his friends and family recently launched the Tommy Pacello Placemaking Fellowship fund, which will raise money to support civic leaders like him. Right now, the fund is closing in on reaching its goal, and I hope you'll consider joining me in making a tax-deductible gift in Tommy's memory. You can learn more and make a contribution of any amount by clicking here.

‘Tis the season: From Toys with Tigers Christmas Giveaway


to the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree (with Crain in the background for needed parking at the Downtown Mobility Center to handle the growth in jobs, residents and tourists), we wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season.




The weather outside is frightful: To stay up to date on power and outages, please visit the MLGW website or mobile app.

Stay warm and enjoy your weekend!


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