Seeding Success

First 8 Memphis

Early childhood education

First 8 Memphis seeks to address racial disparities in America by intentionally scaling comprehensive early childhood resources to Black and Low-income children in Memphis, TN.

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Lead Organization

Seeding Success

Memphis, Tennessee, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

America is built on a history of racial injustice and violence. The effects of this are nowhere more evident than in the U.S. South. From slavery, Jim Crow, to Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968, to the current epidemic of mass incarceration and poverty, Memphis has been at the center of this painful history. Recent mobility data continue to show that economic opportunity in America, and Memphis, remains entrenched against the map of our country's racial oppression. This history plays out in the neighborhoods, schools, and lives of the majority of Memphis' children, limiting their opportunity and pathways to their full potential. To combat this structural inequality, community organizations, leaders, activists, elected officials, and researchers came together to design and implement a system of nurturing and supportive resources Birth to Age 8. First 8 Memphis, when scaled, will serve the majority of vulnerable children 0-8 and their families.

Problem Statement

The majority of Memphis' children 0-8 are Black and Latino, ~32,000. These children grow up in one of America's most impovershed cities. These two facts are not a coincidence. A history of racialized opportunity and a systemic lack of resources for communities of color have compounded for generations in America, but are concentrated in Memphis. Growing inequality suggests that the future for these children will not significantly improve but could worsen. Our community is not willing to stand by and let this cycle on inequity continue to limit our children's and our city's potential. To begin to intervene, investments in the earliest moments of life, sustained from birth to age 8, can change a generation of outcomes for our children. The data and evidence suggest these early investments are some the most important ones Memphis and our nation can make. With a coordinated approach to support children and families, from their earliest moments as a family, we believe the realities of racial inequality can be change or at least be challenged. This begins by building on our success. By immediately investing in the expansion of existing high-quality programs into low-income communities, we can begin to mitigate the adverse effects of systemic poverty and racism on children and families, by: -providing continuous access to trusted high-quality nurturing environments for children 0-8; -supporting the quality of our early childhood workforce and programs; -increasing access to high-quality early education programs; and, -providing the child's family continuous supportive services for the first 8 years.

Solution Overview

In recognition of the lack of racial and economic progress achieved at the observance of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination in Memphis (04/04/2018), Public and private leaders committed publicly to an ambitious plan to scale early childhood interventions. Vulnerable children in Memphis, nearly all Black or Latino and growing up in some of the Nation's most entrenched poverty, will have access to integrated resources and supports from birth to age 8 (early home-visiting, child care, Pre-K, summer learning programs, 2 Generation supports, etc.). Additionally, public funding will be aggressively pursued to sustain these efforts at scale.Seeding Success has refined this plan into a model for how communities can leverage private, local, state and federal dollars differently to scale and coordinate early childhood programs, enhance family economic well-being, and begin to dismantle systemic racial inequality at scale. Our community is already making progress with lower rates of infant mortality, improved school readiness and k-12 outcomes, and reductions in poverty rates; but, the change is only incremental. We will know we are making faster progress by achieving clear targets for infant and maternal well-being, on-track child development, school outcomes, and improved family stability. This strategy will have an impact on the majority of Memphis' children that live in poverty 0-8, ~32,000; and, the improvement of outcomes for these children may extend into benefits for subsequent generations and the community. Ultimately, Black and Latino children will know that their lives matter, and that they are truly valued in their village.

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Project Funders

  • Urban Child Institute 2020 - 2025
  • Pyramid Peak 2020 - 2025
  • City/County Gov. 2019 - 2023

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