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September 8, 2017

Tina Chong

City Year Kicks-Off Program to Support Students in Five High-Need Public Schools in Memphis

Program places City Year AmeriCorps members in schools to deliver integrated academic and social-emotional support to students and schools

Memphis, TN (September 8, 2017) – City Year, an education organization that helps students and schools succeed, today announced the official launch of its Memphis program to build the academic and social-emotional success of students in five high-need schools in the city. City Year brings together diverse teams of near-peer AmeriCorps members to serve full-time in schools, working alongside teachers to provide students with individual, classroom and whole school support to increase academic achievement and student engagement.

The program was launched in partnership with Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District, the Office of City Mayor Jim Strickland, the Office of County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Jr., Volunteer Tennessee, and many other business and community leaders. Last year, the City Year program was piloted with 16 AmeriCorps members in two Memphis public schools.

“I am impressed by City Year’s track record of results across the country and think it is the right time to bring this established, scalable national service model to Memphis,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “…Through City Year, we will have the ability to close the achievement gap and transform the lives of many students.”

“I believe that City Year will be a strong partner supporting students, teachers and administrators in boosting student achievement,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Jr. “This partnership will help students meet their full potential by staying…or getting back on track towards high school graduation.”

After a successful pilot year, 40 City Year Memphis AmeriCorps members will support students at three Shelby County Schools (Brownsville Road Elementary, Power Center Academy, and KIPP Collegiate Elementary and Middle School) and two Achievement School District schools (Westside Achievement Middle School and Memphis Scholars Caldwell-Guthrie) in its founding year. Nationally, City Year is dedicated to keeping students in school and on track to graduate high school, and with the opening of its program in Memphis, partners with more than 330 schools in 28 cities to serve 223,000 students.

Forty City Year Memphis AmeriCorps members kick off a year of full-time service in Memphis schools

City Year’s “Whole School Whole Child” Services Yields Results

“Memphis needs more passionate, diverse young people entering the education sector—the young people serving with City Year are exactly what our community needs,” said Dr. John Barker, Lead Consultant at JB Logical Solutions and Board Chair of City Year Memphis. “Not only will these City Year AmeriCorps members help thousands of Memphis students stay on track to graduation, but they are also the next generation of talent for Memphis schools and education non-profits.”

A 2015 third-party study found that schools that partner with City Year were up to two-to-three times more likely to improve school-wide proficiency rates in English and math, when compared to students and schools that did not have the benefit of a City Year partnership. In its pilot year, City Year Memphis saw promising results in its two partner schools: At Brownsville Road Elementary School, 88 percent of students who started the year with a D or F in math courses and who were tutored by City Year ended the year with a C or better, while at Westside Achievement Middle School, 67 percent of students who started the year with a D or F in English Language Arts courses and who were tutored by City Year ended the year with an A, B or C.  One-hundred percent of partner teachers agreed or strongly agreed that City Year AmeriCorps members improved students' engagement in learning.

Principal Charles Newborn of Brownsville Road Elementary said, “Results show that City Year Memphis has the ability to help our school succeed and improve attendance and student achievement. I am excited City Year is growing its program to serve more schools this year.”

Cross-Sector Community and Business Leaders Champion City Year

The launch of City Year in Memphis has been made possible by many community and business leaders, including lead corporate partners CSX Transportation, Lamar Advertising and Red Nose Day, along with program sponsors FedEx and Starbucks.

“City Year is grateful to our partners, the Shelby County Schools, the Achievement School District, Volunteer Tennessee, and the remarkable cross-sector group of community and business leaders who worked so hard to make City Year Memphis possible,” said Michael Brown, CEO and Co-Founder of City Year. “It is a privilege for City Year to serve the students and schools of Memphis.”

Memphis Native Leads City Year Memphis Team

“It is a great honor to return to my hometown, and see diverse teams of AmeriCorps members serve students in communities like North Memphis, where I grew up,” said City Year Memphis Vice President and Executive Director Dr. Catherine Cushinberry, a seasoned nonprofit executive with over twenty years of experience in both the education and nonprofit sectors who assumed her leadership role with City Year Memphis in June.

“City Year Memphis looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with all of our public and private partners to help the students of Memphis stay in school and on track to graduate high school ready for college and career,” she said.

Today’s launch event at the National Civil Rights Museum included the site’s Opening Day ceremony, when City Year Memphis AmeriCorps members recited the City Year and AmeriCorps pledges to publicly kick off their year of service in Memphis schools. Opening Days are held at all City Year sites at this time of year and are sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, City Year’s national Opening Day sponsor. A strategic partner since 2001, Comcast NBCUniversal has provided more than $90 million in cash and in-kind support to City Year. During that time, City Year has grown from nearly 700 City Year AmeriCorps members to a corps of 3,100 diverse young leaders.


About City Year:

City Year helps students and schools succeed. Fueled by national service, City Year partners with public schools in 28 urban, high-need communities across the U.S. and through international affiliates in the U.K. and Johannesburg, South Africa. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members provide research-based student, classroom and school-wide supports to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school, ready for college and career success. A 2015 study shows that schools that partner with City Year were up to 2-3 times more likely to improve on math and English assessments. A proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network, City Year is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, local school districts, and private philanthropy from corporations, foundations and individuals. Learn more at, City Year’s Facebook page, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.