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City Year Memphis: building to lead

In the early 2000’s, I started a consulting business in Los Angeles. When I was establishing my business, I was talking with the gentleman who helped me with the incorporation paperwork. We talked about what it means to own and lead a business.

During our conversation, he asked if I played chess. I told him yes. He asked, “If you could be in any position, which position would you be in?” It didn’t take me long to answer. I, of course, wanted the most powerful piece on the board. I answered, “The queen.” He asked me to repeat the question back to him. His answer was, “I want to be the person moving the pieces”.

City Year Memphis is building to lead within the City Year network and locally, but I am not naive. We cannot do this on an island. Today, as we welcome our incoming class of AmeriCorps (Ameri-Core) members, I am grateful for the foundation, but still have more growth ahead of us.

Each of you carry brick, tools, cement, wood, steel or people power to help make the meaningful and necessary connections so that City Year Memphis becomes a sustainable and impactful organization for generations of Memphians to come.

There are many organizations in Memphis doing great work. City Year is one of them!

Last week, City Year Memphis was presented with a Best of City Year Award from the national office. The award is presented to high performing sites across the country that excel in impact of service delivery, fundraising, and engagement of staff and our AmeriCorps members.

When I started in the role of VP/ED for City Year Memphis, it was my intent to make sure that City Year Memphis would grow to be one of the leading sites in the nation. I wanted our AmeriCorps members and staff, many of whom are from outside of Memphis, to love this city the way I love it. I wanted them to stay and contribute their gifts and talents to our community. Equally important was my desire for us to build an organization that would be a pipeline for local talent.

This past year, we had approximately 70% of our corps members from outside of Memphis. From our total number of corps members, we had 70% of our graduating corps stay in Memphis after their year of service.

From our recent graduating class, 50% of our AmeriCorps (corps) members with college degrees went into teacher residency programs. These programs are saving money on recruitment because City Year Memphis is a conduit. We are recruiting and attracting the talent to Memphis. The programs can come to us for a pool of talented young recruits. In Memphis, we partner with Christian Brothers University, Teach for America, Relay, and Memphis Teacher Residency. We have residencies across Tennessee interested in our AmeriCorps members.

We are especially proud of our formal partnership with Christian Brothers University. We have worked closely with them to align the work of City Year Memphis and their teacher residency program, so corps members who are in the program receive free tuition and a stipend, take evening courses, and can meet their residency requirements as they serve with City Year. After the 10 month residency, they will be licensed teachers.

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