Memphis Education Service Opportunities

BB CHANGE, Photo by Gillian Wenhold

BB CHANGE, Photo by Gillian Wenhold

Experts consistently say that the foundation for upward mobility and higher earning potential lies in the hands of a quality education. Unfortunately, many institutions do not receive proper funding or attention from the government to be able to provide for their students. Schools, especially the ones in our community, need help from us so that every child has the chance to receive an excellent education and all that comes with it. Here are some ways you can lend a hand:

Volunteer in the Classroom & in the School

Teachers are often juggling various classroom-related tasks in addition to teaching their students. Providing teachers with a helping hand can go a very long way for both teachers and students. Even if it’s just for a few hours a week, volunteering as a classroom helper will make a huge difference. Whether it’s grading papers, giving one-on-one attention to students, organizing library books, or reading to the class, your efforts will go a long way in the improvement of a child’s education experience. 

Getting involved in the PTO at the school is another wonderful way to provide support. Oftentimes, volunteer services at this meetings are much needed, such as providing childcare, transportation, food, and more for members and their children. '

Literacy MidSouth is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide literary resources for learners of all ages and backgrounds, trying to reach 100% literacy in the Mid-South. Literacy Mid-South improves the quality of life in the community through education by providing literacy programs for adults and children as well as a network of collaborative projects with some of the Mid-South's finest educational organizations. 

Teach For America Memphis works to foster the leadership of Memphis’ kids—equipping them with the academic and life skills necessary to pick up and win the fight for equality in their own community. Teach For America is a diverse network of leaders who confront educational inequity through every sector, starting with two years of teaching in a low-income community. 

SchoolSeed is the independent fund for Greater Memphis classrooms and is the independent fiscal agent of the historic $90 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support teacher effectiveness in the public school system. Established in 2009 as a nonprofit organization, SchoolSeed supports community efforts that positively impact students and teachers.

Donate School Supplies, Clothes, Food, and Money

While working with extremely tight budgets, many teachers pay for school supplies out of pocket. Consequently, many classrooms are lacking the supplies needed to foster an ideal educational environment, especially those in the urban education sphere. Getting in contact with a teacher and creating a list of supplies to collect, donating old school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, etc.) in your possession, and purchasing school supplies and passing them off to teachers are all great ways to support a classroom’s functionality.

In addition, donating clothing, whether through a clothing drive or other means, is a crucial aspect in making sure students are served the attire they need not just at school but in life. In the same vein, food drives help make sure students are receiving food to fight hunger and malnutrition. 

Finally, monetary donations are always a welcome and effective method in uplifting schools. Memphis Education Fund (MEF) supports successful public schools of all kinds with a focus on outcomes with the strength of their work being the extensive partnerships and relationships they have established in Memphis. MEF’s main goal is to create better classrooms for all kids. 

Through their partnerships, they address pressing challenges while also searching for root causes with the goal of creating community-wide transformations. 

Youth Justice Conference, Photo by Gillian Wenhold

Youth Justice Conference, Photo by Gillian Wenhold

Lend Your Expertise

Exposing students to your own profession or passion is an excellent way to open their eyes so they can see opportunities to pursue in their futures. Some ways you can lend your expertise include allowing students to shadow you or even intern for you, showing up to classrooms and giving talks on your job, or host a Q & A or an educational panel at the school for the students. 

BRIDGES is an organization dedicated to bridging the divide across communities, and cultivating youth leaders in Memphis. Bridge Builders CHANGE is Bridge Builders at its most intense. Thirty youth fellows work to improve the community in four areas of social justice that directly affect youth. They are always interested in collaborating with other leaders in Memphis!

CodeCrew mentors underrepresented youth to be tech innovators and leaders through practical, hands-on computer science education programs throughout Memphis. Since May 2015, they have taught more than 1,000 students to code through their summer camps, after school programs, in-school electives, and special events

Cloud 901 is the Memphis Public Library and Information Center’s state-of-the-art social, creative, production, research and performance technology lab where teens ages 13-18 can develop 21st century skills including innovation, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. Volunteers are gladly accepted here to assist and teach teens in the technology lab. 

Girls Inc. of Memphis has provided girls ages 6 to 18 with quality programming that equips them for successful adulthood by inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. More than 1,000 hours of intentional outcome based programming is given to girls annually through center-based, community-based and in-school programs from Girls Inc. 

Lets Innovate Through Education (LITE) Memphis challenges their students to dream of innovative ways to change their community through entrepreneurial ideas and equips their students with 21st-century skills to create wealth so that African-American and Latinx students can close the racial wealth gap by becoming entrepreneurs and securing high-wage jobs. LITE teaches over 1,000 student across the city of Memphis.

Volunteer After School

Volunteering during school hours is immensely important, but volunteering after school is just as vital to positively impacting students’ development and growth in the education system. For some students, parental figures are absent when school ends each day because they are working to provide for their families. Therefore, participating in after-school organizations helps keep kids active and engaged while providing mentorship opportunities.

After school volunteering opportunities include coaching school sports teams, mentoring youth, and tutoring students. The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis enables all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens by providing after-school care for children ages 6-18, Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

Las Americas is a Youth Development Center that offers EL tutoring and teaching assistance in 13 schools, after school tutoring and homework help, character building programs, and a Youth Soccer League (in cooperation with First Evangelical Church). They are the only Youth Development Center that helps Latino Kids with their education and assimilation into the american culture. 

The Memphis Dream Center’s Youth Leadership Network creates environments for children and their families to build spiritual, academic, leadership and relational skills. Their goal is to overcome the forces of poverty and see their students become caring, successful and responsible community members who transform their neighborhoods into places where success becomes the norm and families prosper. 

Memphis Shelby PAL is a non-profit youth mentoring organization devoted to preventing crime, building character and promoting success for children 5-18. They help develop positive attitudes towards the law by bringing youth under the constructive influence of dedicated law enforcement officers who serve as coaches, referees and mentors in sports including: football, cheerleading, basketball, baseball, softball, track & field, and boxing.

Introduce Performing Arts

With school budgets tightening more and more by the day, many children are not afforded the opportunity to engage in performing arts during their educational experience. Giving access to things like music, dance, and theater introduce students to a whole new world they’ve never been able to partake in before. The Performing Arts Development Corporation (PADC) aids in combating juvenile delinquency through programs that are Performing Arts driven by promoting effective communication and offering exciting and creative community-oriented alternatives to keep kids off the streets after school.

Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) works directly with students, parents, school and city leadership, nonprofit professionals and musicians to support and strengthen existing in-school music education. MMI pairs professional musicians with more than 45 Memphis schools, impacting more than 4,000 students. Their Music Engagement Fellows provide instruction in the classroom and connect students to the Memphis music community through field trips around the city. 

Photo by the New Ballet Ensemble

Photo by the New Ballet Ensemble

New Ballet Ensemble is a thriving after school dance program in the heart of Midtown Memphis. In 2014, New Ballet Ensemble was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, recognizing the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase self-direction, academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. 

Theatre Memphis is a community theatre whose mission is to provide outstanding theatrical experiences to enrich the live of our audiences, participants and community. They are heavily involved in the community with mentor and residency programs that serve children that are typically underserved in the arts. '

Education is one of the most important pillars of a community. Through these aforementioned measures you can make a positive impact on the quality of education children in our community are receiving. It may not seem like much, but your helping hand can go a long way in guiding kids through the education process and making it easier for students to eventually one day graduate to go on to better things. Stay tuned for more ways to help from The Social Exchange!