This is a friendly reminder that our virtual join Momentum Memphis Education Task-Force Meeting will be tonight via Zoom starting at 6:00 pm.

Hear updates from our task-force leaders and coalition partners on the advancement of our advocacy efforts to make equity in education a reality for students in Memphis and Shelby County. To attend, please use this link to register.

 You’re also invited to Outreach Coordinator Rev. Edie’s “Community Check-In” tomorrow at 5:00 pm via Zoom. Learn about resources parents can use to adapt to the virtual 2020-21 school year and ways we all can support each other in making educational equity a reality for our students. To attend, please use this link to register.

 We’re also continuing our media series with Chalkbeat journalist, Laura Faith Kebede, and Stand For Children’s Outreach Coordinator, Paul Garner. “Get the Scoop” will happen on Thursday, September 17th, from 12:00 – 1:30 pm via Zoom! This informative workshop will provide the information you need to interact with media professionals and a glimpse of how journalists cover education in Tennessee! This session is FREE and open to the PUBLIC. Reserve your spot today by clicking here.

Here is a friendly reminder to join us today for our virtual joint Momentum Memphis Education Task Force Meeting at 6:00 via Zoom! Hear updates about our advocacy work as a coalition and learn how you can get involved in our efforts to make equity in education a reality for all students! 

Even if you can’t make it today, you’re also invited to join us on Tuesday at 2:00 pm for “Cardell’s Soapbox” via Facebook live! Hear the latest news in Memphis and Shelby County government and ways you can take action to make equity in education a reality for all Shelby County Schools students. Have a question you’d like to ask? Please send them to [email protected].

Still can’t make it? Well, grab some lunch and join us this Thursday at noon for a rebroadcasting of outreach coordinator Rob Brown’s “Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline pt.2” via our Facebook page. Join Rob in the comments for a discussion on how we can work as a community to combat racial injustice that plagues students and citizens of Memphis and Shelby County. If you missed part 1 or any of our workshops, they are archived on our website.

Hope to see you soon! 

Dear SCS Board Members, Superintendent Ray, and Digital Advisory Committee Members,

Thank you for working to address the development of digital resources for all students as SCS determines the future of education as it is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are a group of community members from MICAH, Stand for Children, and 90-ONE who are committed to advocacy at the local, state, and national level to ensure that everyone plays a role in solving the challenge of the digital divide and commits to digital resource development across our community.

SCS has the most immediate ability to impact this challenge with available devices on-hand and resources supporting direct Internet access to children’s homes and into communities. We appreciate the development of the proposed plans and look forward to seeing SCS achieve the 1:1 vision laid out by Superintendent Ray, while also addressing the complicated ramifications of COVID-19 and making decisions that ensure student needs are met in the fall. As the SCS Board, Digital Advisory Committee, and Superintendent Ray’s administration addresses these issues, we hope you will support the following requests:

2020-21 Digital Resource Requests

  • All students should have access to a digital device and home Internet by the start of the 2020-21 school year to ensure their learning can continue most effectively in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence and social distancing measures.
  • Teachers should receive professional development and support to transition to full or partial online instruction.
  •   Any needed online instruction should take into account the best delivery methods (synchronous/asynchronous) to ensure the greatest opportunity of access, lesson completion, and learning support for all students.
  • Students and families need clear engagement and support in distribution of devices, access to the Internet, and integration of home learning opportunities.
  • Exceptional children and EL students should have individualized plans that address the accessibility of technological devices and necessary accommodations in a virtual setting.
  • Provide an inclusive plan for the summer that assists in making up for lost learning time from COVID-19 school closure that addresses technology needs.
  • Expand distribution of currently available devices (35,279 devices) to students who do not have devices to support summer learning efforts. Consider immediately beginning with students who have Internet access but do not have devices, while identifying options and funds for Internet access to homes without it. 
  • Work with Shelby County, City of Memphis, community organizations, philanthropy, and the business community to develop options for expanding Internet access across Shelby County.
  • Ensure coordination and collaboration with community organizations who can assist in connecting students and families with technology and internet access.
  • Consider the potential accommodations required to best serve special populations such as highly mobile students and families experiencing homelessness.
  • SCS Board should pass a resolution that commits to addressing Digital Inclusion (model resolution available).

Our coalition of advocates meets monthly to move forward issues that will support the future success of our students and educational equity. We believe that addressing digital access, ensuring digital inclusion, and pushing towards digital development are vital for our students, families, and community and we appreciate the SCS Board, Superintendent Ray, the Digital Advisory Committee, and the SCS administration taking up this challenge and leading the charge. We look forward to continued opportunities to engage with the SCS board, Advisory Committee, and administration. We are available to provide further information and receive questions and comments.

Thank you for your ongoing leadership and partnership,

MICAH Education Task Force, Stand for Children, 90-ONE

Dear Shelby County Commissioners,

We are a group of community members from MICAH and Stand for Children who care deeply about education equity in our community. As many of you will remember from the 2019-20 budget development, members of our coalition attended all the meetings associated with the budget including community sessions, Shelby County Schools board meetings, and County Commission meetings in support of SCS funding requests. 

As SCS developed its FY21 budget, we strongly advocated for digital inclusion and equity, social-emotional learning, college and career success, as well as the comprehensive, equitable facilities plan. We remain committed and continue our efforts to address these issues throughout the year. 

While we recognize that local governmental budgets and opportunities for full public engagement will be impacted by the pandemic, we believe continuation of efforts and deeper investments are critical to the success of our students and the future of our county. 

We are deeply grateful for the Commission’s commitment to keep the current school funding level. We recognize the tough decisions the commission will face and are strongly advocating for you to fund the following items listed below. 

FY 2021 SCS Capital Request

We support the County Commission’s urgent call for SCS to provide the first time-ever comprehensive and equitable facilities plan, which SCS began many months ago. As we rebuild, we hope state and/or federal recovery funds will include infrastructure funds and want to ensure that the County and SCS are shovel-ready with plans to implement the long-delayed facilities our students and educators need. 

We ask you to support the recommendation of County Mayor Lee Harris for a $65 million additional commitment to build a new SCS high school in Frayser/North Memphis, which would build some equity across the county.

Digital Inclusion and Access

We ask you to join community organizations, community businesses, and philanthropic donations by allocating $ 2.5 million of the County CARES funding to Shelby County Schools’ digital access needs to close the inequitable divide of digital devices and internet access needed to support students and families in a distance learning environment.

SCS Freshman Academy (Freshman Success Network)

We ask you to provide the additional $1 million request for Freshman Success Academy so SCS can fund the program to continue the successful work of increasing the number of ninth-graders on-track. 

Social-Emotional Learning and Trauma-Responsive Schools

We ask you to support the additional $1 million request for purchase of a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. We support the district’s critical efforts to prioritize the social-emotional needs of our students in an effort to break the school-to-prison pipeline and become a trauma-responsive school district.  Additionally, the impact of COVID-19 amplifies the need to support our students’ social-emotional needs and learning.

Moral Budget

We support a property tax adjustment, and approve of the Mayors’ Vehicle Registration Fee increase. A tax adjustment will create additional funds for education and ease pressure on the County’s general fund at a time of strained resources, avoiding those untenable layoffs or cuts. The property tax rate was artificially lowered in 2017 to an unsustainable level, and our county has suffered since then with lack of investments to vital parts of our community.

The Vehicle Registration Fee has not been raised in close to 20 years. While keeping pace with the rate of inflation would anticipate it being $22 more, we support an increase of $16.50.

While, based on the mayor’s proposed budget, this further reduces the portion of property tax dollars going to education, it maintains the current level of education funding and assists in providing additional CIP funds for school facilities. We support the pennies on the tax dollar returning to education when County revenue recovers with additional education funds going to targeted initiatives that benefit our students with the greatest need.

If County Commissioners are able to balance the budget with no layoffs and no cuts to service, we still support the increase in revenue. Investments in transit through Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) and targeted education support are just two areas where we know additional funds are urgently needed and where additional revenue could be applied for the greater benefit of Shelby County and its citizens. As SCS and the other County public schools determine what is needed to prevent learning loss in the coming year, more funds and resources will be needed for public education. With growing concern about the resilience of our voting system amid a pandemic, our community also needs strong County investment for absentee voting, from public education about how it works to sufficient staffing and training to be sure all mail-in absentee ballots are properly counted.

Some protest property tax increases on behalf of low-income County residents. However, it is low income families who rely on our public services, like the Health Department, public schools and transit, and cuts that affect those services hit them the hardest. Because discrimination in the private sector is so powerful, public jobs like those on the chopping block are some of the most important stepping stones into the middle class for families of Color – threatening the benefits and jobs of these public servants is a move against the financial stability of Black and Brown communities. The median home value in Shelby County is $86,000. An $.08 cent property tax adjustment would mean half our County residents would see their annual property taxes increase by $17.50 or less, that is an easy choice, to keep our County services strong.

There is no way around the fact that our County needs to expand its base of revenue. Failing this could mean cutting as many as 150 jobs, from an already skeleton staff, or slashing important benefits like parental leave. It could mean our Health Department and Division of Community Services will be unable to meet the current and potential resurgent demands of addressing COVID-19 in our community. It definitely means that the County continues to operate at a deficit to support those in our community with the greatest needs. Some of the most recent cuts approved by the Commission would turn back needed grant funds for vital services. All of these effects will ripple through the economy and send a message that public servants and residents are expendable.

Our coalition of advocates meets monthly to move forward issues that will support the future success of our students and educational equity, a true cornerstone for a successful county. We know that it is imperative for the county to place a clear focus and priority on our children, families, and communities. We look forward to future engagement to move our county forward in a positive direction. We are available to provide further information and receive questions and comments.

Thank you for your ongoing leadership and partnership,

 MICAH Education Task Force and Stand for Children

As we continue to quarantine and practice social distancing, we want to make sure that you are aware of upcoming Stand events and advocacy efforts you can join and take action from the comfort of your own home. This Thursday, May 21, at 3:00 pm, join outreach coordinator Rob Brown for part 3 of his “Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline workshop series via Zoom.

In this final segment, attendees will discuss what methods and strategies have worked locally and nationally, plus what we as a community can do to continue the fight to shatter the school to prison pipeline. To attend, please use this link to reserve your spot for this engaging workshop.

 Next, take some time to wind down and prepare for the weekend by joining outreach coordinator Edith Love’s “Quarantine Check-In this Friday, May 22, at 1:00 pm via Zoom. Give your input on the best ways we all can adapt to the new norms of distance education, activities to do at home with your student(s), and how we can get through this challenging time together. To attend, please use this link to register. 

 If you can’t join us this week, then mark your calendar for outreach coordinator Paul Garner’s “The Web of Oppression workshop next Wednesday, May 27, at 2:00 pm via Zoom and Facebook Live. This workshop will explore the concept of intersectionality to help us build awareness of how oppression affects our work as organizers and advocates. You can register for this informative workshop by using this link to register.

Can’t make any of our workshops? Not a problem! You can take action by helping Stand raise money for students in Memphis and Shelby County to receive the devices and WiFi connections they need to continue their education at home by donating to the Shelby County YES Fund.

Stand has joined with the Memphis & West TN Labor CouncilMICAH, and other community groups to demand Shelby County Commissioners and Shelby County Mayor Harris raise new revenue to restore the County budget fairly and equitably. While COVID-19 has drastically affected the county budget, it shouldn’t be balanced at the cost of workers losing their job, cutting benefits, or the educational future of our children!

If you agree that Shelby County Mayor, along with the Shelby County Commissioners should put people first, take action by signing this letter to show your support for a moral and equitable 2020-21 Shelby County Budget. 

We have been working diligently to keep the momentum going for educational equity while practicing social distancing. That’s why we are hosting our next joint Momentum Memphis Educational Task-Force Meeting via Zoom on Monday, May 4, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Join us as we discuss ways to continue our advocacy for educational equity during these new and uncertain times. 

If you can’t make the meeting, then join us for tomorrow at 2:00 pm for our “Ask A Question” series with Memphis Director Cardell Orrin on Facebook Live! He will be answering your questions about current COVID issues and responses, education, budgets and funding issues, the digital divide, and more!

You can also catch his “Memphis & Shelby County Government Workshop” this Thursday, April 30, at 1 pm. Attendees will learn the landscape of our local government and the responsibilities of those in elected offices, as well as best practices on how you can get involved with local government to advocate for educational change. To attend, please use this link to register and receive login credentials.

Stay safe! 

P.S. Don’t forget to take our school facilities survey!

During this time of uncertainty, we must do our best to stay connected to what matters most, which is the well-being of our children. That’s why we are hosting free virtual workshops led by some of our fantastic staff to keep the momentum going during this time of social distancing.

 If you’re ready to take action from home, Join us this Thursday at 2pm for outreach coordinator Rob Brown’s Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline Workshop via Zoom! This workshop will provide attendees with a deeper understanding of what the school to prison pipeline is, who is most affected, and strategies our community can use to dismantle it. To attend, please use this link to register and receive login credentials.

Memphis Director Cardell Orrin will also give his Memphis & Shelby County Government Workshop on Thursday, April 30th, at 1pm. Attendees will learn the landscape of our local government and the responsibilities of those in elected offices, as well as best practices on how you can get involved with local government to advocate for educational change. To attend, please use this link to registeand receive login credentials.

If you can’t make either of the workshops, you can still take action by completing our school facilities survey. While schools are shuttered for the rest of the school year, our students deserve to return to 21st-century school buildings and facilities in the fall.

Full Speed Ahead in the New Year

2020 has barely begun, but we are already building on our successes from last year and drafting plans to make this year the most effective yet for improving the school experience for students in our community. 

Tracking SCS and Reimagining 901

On January 8, members from Stand for Children, MICAH – Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope and 90-ONE Organizing Network for Equity attended the Shelby County Commission’s Education Committee meeting to learn more about the progress of Shelby County Schools’ (SCS) comprehensive facilities planning.

Many waited for a couple of hours (and even longer) before being told that the presentation from SCS administrators would be postponed for two weeks due to the long and important discussion about county support for transit. 

That quickly, we were reminded why advocacy for our students takes such diligence. Two weeks later, we returned and heard the planning updates from SCS administrators including what they learned from the Reimagining 901 Community Input Sessions. 

Have you taken the facilities survey yet? Take it now and pass it on!

Planning for Action

Our Momentum Memphis Task Force Meeting on January 13 was well attended, and we discussed several ideas for collaborative action in the campaigns each task force is planning. Stay tuned for the actions that you can take in our efforts to improve school facilities, graduation success, and resources for students. If you’re ready to contribute your voice, skills, and resources, join us on the first Monday of the month for task force meetings. 

In the Community

Stand staff attended A Trauma Responsive City ACE’s Summit 2020 on January 18 to learn the importance of making Memphis a trauma-responsive city and sharing information about how to get involved with Stand. Many thanks to Pastor Charlie Caswell, Legacy of Legends CDC, and Rotary-Family Youth Initiative for providing this important programming to increase knowledge of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and we can confront the trauma issues across our community.

Freshman Success Network Spotlight: Hamilton High School Freshmen Academy

Stand for Children’s Center for High School Success works with 20 high schools across Shelby County to support them in focusing on supports for students in their make-or-break ninth grade year.

In its second year in the Memphis Freshman Success Network (FSN), Hamilton High School has not only increased its on-track rate from quarter 1 to quarter 2 of the current school year, they have also achieved a year over year increase of up to 25% — showing that effective implementation of our ninth grade on-track initiatives yields positive outcomes.

We are proud to support Hamilton in this work, and appreciate the strong leadership and engagement from Principal James Bacchus and the entire Hamilton Freshman Success Team led by Mrs. Cicely Brooks. Read more on the blog and check out the recognition of this great work in the Tri-State Defender.

SCS Paraprofessionals Literacy Appreciation Luncheon

In December, with support from The Urban Child Institute, we were able to sponsor an appreciation luncheon for a wonderful group of SCS 2nd grade paraprofessionals.These paraprofessionals had shown their commitment to supporting their students through participation in early literacy professional development that gave them additional understanding of foundational literacy skills that they could take into their classrooms.

Efforts like this are important to meeting the SCS Third Grade Commitment, and we salute these paraprofessionals and the SCS Early Literacy Team that provided the opportunity!

Momentum Memphis Organizing Fellowship

We’re now accepting applications for our Momentum Memphis Organizing Fellowship!

In the three-week program, you’ll deepen your understanding of educational issues and grassroots organizing, develop new skills to build power and make lasting change, and have an opportunity to network with other change agents in our community! Space is limited, so apply today! 

Take The Facilities Survey!

Every student in our community deserves a school environment that is safe, comfortable, and conducive to learning. Shelby County Schools is currently developing its first-ever comprehensive facilities plan to present to the community and the Shelby County Commission. Take our SCS Facilities Survey or the SCS Educator Facilities Survey to help us gather critical input to guide our advocacy as this plan is being created.

With one month of action under our belt and exciting advocacy plans on the horizon, 2020 is already shaping up to be a good year. Get involved and help us keep the momentum going!

If you came to the Shelby County Education Committee Meeting on January 8th, you were there waiting for over two hours to hear the results and lessons learned from the Reimagining 901 Input Community Sessions that were held in various schools across Memphis.

I want to thank those of you who came out and waited with us to hear the committee report, and I also want to ask for your support again in attending tomorrow’s education committee meeting at 11:00 am. You can meet us at the Shelby County Commission Building located at 160 N. Main Street. Tell the security officer that you are attending the education committee meeting and they will direct you where to go.

Your attendance at the Education Committee Meeting is vital to our children getting the 21st-century school facilities they need and deserve! If you can’t make it to the meeting, be sure to take our SCS Facilities Survey and tell us the current state of your child’s school facilities. If you are a Shelby County Schools teacher, please take the SCS Educator Facilities Survey and let us know the working conditions of your school. 

 See you there! 

2019:  A Solid Foundation for Change

With 2019 drawing to an end, we want to take a moment to thank all of you – our staff, volunteers, and partners – for the long hours that you all put in this year to stand on behalf of our community’s young people.  Your commitment, dedication, and nonstop diligence have resulted in remarkable progress toward a more equitable, student-centered education landscape throughout Memphis and Shelby County.

The list of accomplishments and benchmarks that we have achieved this year is impressively robust. Here are just a few highlights of what we have accomplished together.

Will you support our work to develop more education advocates and improve student achievement in Memphis and Shelby County? Donate today!

Laying the Groundwork for High School Success

This year, we welcomed 8 new high schools into the Memphis Freshmen Success Network for a total of 20 schools impacting almost 3,000 ninth graders.  Our second annual Memphis Freshmen Success Institute provided an opportunity for teams from all schools to learn, meet each other, exchange ideas, and get fired up about programs and initiatives that they can apply in the new school year to keep ninth-graders on track (making them 3 times more likely to graduate.)

After a successful year for schools in the network that yielded an overall 16 percentage point increase in ninth-graders who are on track to graduate in the 2018-2019 school year, the Memphis FSN became the model for a new program aimed at improving graduation rates in Washington State! We look forward to growing the impact of this network, sharing ideas and strategies across our schools and national networks in 2020.

This year, we also saw the launch of the first NAF Academies in Tennessee serving new cohorts of ninth graders at Kingsbury and Hamilton High Schools. These students are beginning a four-year journey on high-quality career pathways in IT and Health Sciences, and it all began with our introduction of NAF to Shelby County Schools.

We need your support to continue this direct program advocacy for more evidence-based solutions to the challenges facing our schools in serving the needs of all students!

Collaboration for Greater Momentum

With our partners at MICAH and 90ONE, our Momentum Memphis Task Forces have made great strides in boosting community engagement and leveling the playing field for every child in the Greater Memphis community.  Together, our combined network sent more than 3,500 messages to elected officials, rallied, attended and gave testimony at every Shelby County Schools and County Commission budget meeting related to education, and spoke at numerous school board meetings.  

The advocacy work that we did during the budget season helped achieve $2.2 million of additional funding to SCS for the ’19-’20 school year, $2.5 million in additional pre-K funding (thereby saving 300 seats,) and $40 million in capital funds for school maintenance and facilities. 

We’re ready to engage more education advocates and develop more leaders, with your support!

Persistence for High-Quality Schools and Accountability

After four years of discussions and meetings, the Shelby County Schools Board passed the first local comprehensive charter school policy to guide the district’s relationship with the charter schools it oversees, focusing on building partnership and accountability. Stand began advocating for this change in 2015 and continued advocacy through recommendations (developed by SCS officials, charter school leaders, and engaged community members), policy development, and final passage of the policy. This effort shows how important it can be to have consistent, focused advocacy to bring about policy changes.

We are proud of these successes and the many others that we don’t have space to list. We are especially proud of the committed, passionate advocates that we have had the opportunity to work with these past 365 days! 2019 has provided us with a solid foundation; we aim to build on that foundation to attain even greater gains in the new year. 

Standing strong for the children of our community depends on your continued support. As you think about your year-end giving, consider making a donation to help keep us moving forward. We look forward to standing with you in 2020.