Weekly Update

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Last month, I summarized the challenges our city faces with the revolving door in our court system for violent criminals and car thieves.  Today, I want to again address the true long-term solution to crime—nurturing the hearts and minds of young people in a positive way.

There are so many great Memphians serving our youth and helping to lead them down the road to success.  I want to highlight two organizations that I have visited in the last week that are clearly making the kind of difference we need.

The first is New Hope Christian Academy, a K—6 school operating for over 20 years in Frayser.  New Hope is a private school, but most their students receive privately raised financial aid, and all the students are assisted and counseled as they attend other schools from 7th grade through high school graduation. 

The numbers don’t lie. Look below at this remarkable data:

  • 80 percent of the students live in poverty
  • 99 percent graduate high school
  • 69 percent go to college
  • Most of the remaining 31 percent immediately get a job

When I asked how they have succeeded for so long, the Head of School, Lionel Cable, responded with two focal points: their minds (academics) and their hearts (being a good person guided by their faith). I have often written you about how we must work on the “hearts and minds” of our youth so they do not follow the wrong crowd or pick up an easily accessible gun; New Hope is proof that it can work.

new hope

The second is L.Y.E. Academy, which provides after-school dance training “in a positive and secured environment.”  Ladia Yates is the owner, choreographer, and an extraordinarily talented dancer. She has guided and inspired thousands of children over the years with a mission “to create industry opportunities for the youth in our community, keep them active and inspire them to make great decisions in life whether in the entertainment field or not.”


Another group who came to meet with me recently and who has also been doing tremendous work in our community for years is Peer Power. To give you a little background, Peer Power is a non-profit organization that recruits and trains high-performing college students, called Success Coaches, to tutor in public school classrooms and mentor high school students.

Since 2004, the group has completed more than 1.2 million hours of tutoring and mentoring, and of the students who participate, 84 percent go on to graduate from college.

Finally, we launched Opportunity Memphis R3 (Rethinking, Rebuilding, Rebranding) last year. This program is geared towards opportunity youth (ages 16-24, not in school and unemployed) and offers a guided path to further their education or prepare them for workforce readiness. Through last month, we have had 71 participants. Of those, 69 are either enrolled in school, awaiting enrollment in school, working or received State certifications. Follow this link to great recent news story about the program.

I Am Included: I’ve written to you about this program in the past, but as a refresher, the I Am Included program is for youth between the ages of 14-18, grades 9-12 with disabilities, and it is administered through our Office of Youth Services. This past December, the program hosted its first annual formal holiday ball.

i am included

We had a wonderful time. The night included motivational speakers, dancing, lots of smiles, great food, music, carousel rides, free haircuts, hair and make-up services, and gifts to go! This was an exceptional wrap up of our year for our participating students within the program, and thanks so much to Ike Griffith and his team at Youth Services for making it happen.

Enjoy your weekend!


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