News (and Blog) en Copyright 2015 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 CodeCrew partners with Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation in summer program There’s an app for that!  And your child can learn how to make it, thanks to CodeCrew’s partnership with the Grizzlies Charitable Foundation. Together, they’re hosting a Mobile Application Development Workshop on Saturday, May 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Lester Community Center. The workshop is open to students entering grades 7 through 9. Registration costs $10 and includes food and a T-shirt.  Students will learn to design and program mobile applications using MIT’s AppInventor platform. There are no prerequisites for attending. Thanks to funding from the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation, CodeCrew will use this workshop to kick off a six-week digital summer camp that teaches middle school students how to build mobile apps in June and July.  They will also host a two-day hackathon at the end of the summer to give kids a chance to showcase what they’ve learned. It’s something organizers say will help close the current digital gap in our city. “As the information economy advances, the digital skills gap is significant for adults and children nationwide, but is particularly pronounced in Memphis, where the tech community is bourgeoning, but is still behind on virtually every major indicator, threatening our city’s prosperity,” said Meka Egwuekwe, co-founder of CodeCrew. Egwuekwe helped start CodeCrew, a newly formed non-profit that focuses on youth coding.  Egwuekwe and his co-founders, Petya Grady and Audrey Jones, are participating in a summer long acceleration program with Start Co. in Memphis. They are a part of the SkyHigh Program that focuses on the unique needs of Social Impact Tech startups. They use startup building methods with social innovation building methods in an intense curriculum that will help them grow. The group hopes to provide in-depth computer science training to kids. But they also want to serve as a resource for parents, teachers and other organizations that want to address the digital skills gap. Ultimately they want to address and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in tech and the role computer science education can play in building a better Memphis. Here are the details for their first event: What: Mobile Application Development Workshop Where: Grizzlies Digital Lab, Lester Community Center located at 317 Tillman Street, Memphis, TN, 38112 When: Saturday, May 23 from 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Who: Students entering grades 7 through 9 Cost: $10 per student, scholarships available Parents interested in signing children up should visit Originally published by WMC Action News 5 at | 5/21/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 5 Things Mentoring and the Memphis Grizzlies Have In Common The Memphis Grizzlies are once again making franchise history with their 2015 playoff run, right when our youth mentoring efforts are touching every corner of the city. Together, the team and the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation are igniting Memphis in different ways and our teams have much in common. 1. Teamwork One player does not make a team. To succeed, every player on the court must communicate and work together to win. Just like Marc Gasol (probably) couldn’t run the team on his own, mentoring can’t work if there isn’t communication and teamwork. Mentoring is a two-way street, and both mentor and mentee must be invested in the relationship and work together for it to succeed. After all, the Grizzlies become known for their defense through communication and teamwork.  2. Grit-N-Grind Tony Allen coined the term in 2011 that would go on to define the Grizzlies’ resilience. Grit-N-Grind is about giving your all in the face of adversity; it’s about never giving up when it gets hard; it’s about playing for the long term to get results. Youth mentoring is the same way: some days will be hard, some days will be easy, and it may take months before you begin to see results. That’s the thing about grit: it makes the eventual success that much more rewarding. 3. Willingness to Adapt Different teams require different strategies – how the Grizzlies play in one game may not be how they play the next. Adapting to new play styles is important to win, but so are new roles. Different challenges come up in mentoring, including some you may not know how to handle, and you may even have to change your role in the child’s life. Learn, grow and adapt to the situation. 4. Overcoming Adversity Playoffs are stacked with strong opponents: we’re currently playing the number one team in the league. That doesn’t mean success is impossible; the Grizzlies’ wins over Golden State is a testament to this. Youth mentoring fights a lot of tough battles as well, like truancy, substance abuse, attitude problems, etc. Studies from The National Mentoring Partnership show that youth mentoring is winning the battle against these opponents: those with mentors are 52% less likely to skip school and 46% less likely to use illegal drugs (and that’s a win the entire NBA can get behind). 5. Ability to Inspire The Grizzlies’ performance in the playoffs has inspired thousands of Memphians, rallying the fan base around the team like never before. Mike Conley’s reemergence on the court so soon after his surgery is just the latest addition to the Grizzlies’ lore that drives the fandom. Mentoring is also about inspiring, but on a smaller and more personal scale. The mentor serves as an inspiration for the mentee to follow or replicate, instilling qualities or behaviors to help reach his or her full growth. The Grizzlies Foundation and the Memphis community TEAM UP to increase the number of students with access to strong mentors trained to help them grow to their full potential. Do you have other ideas on how youth mentoring and the Memphis Grizzlies playoff run are similar? Let us know on Facebook at Grizz Community or on Twitter and Instagram @grizzcommunity. Join our TEAM. Volunteer at | 5/14/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 Training for a Better Tomorrow So, you’ve decided to start a mentoring organization. All your ducks are in a row: you have a structure, the kids you want to target and maybe even a few mentors signed up. But how do you adequately screen and train the mentors for potential trouble signs? Even more so, how can you be sure the program is set up for success? For you and many other organizations like yours in Memphis, there’s the TEAM UP Training Institute. The TEAM UP Training Institute launched in December 2014 as part of the TEAM UP Youth Mentoring Partnership. The Institute is a collaboration between the Grizzlies Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters to provide best-in-class training to mentors and programs so they are equipped to improve student outcomes. The Training Institute provides 17 workshops in six components. Components include program design and management, mentor orientation and training, stewards of children training, child abuse prevention policy workshops, MentorMe data management training and Up2Us sports-based youth development training. Past workshops presented include Building a Quality Mentoring Program, Training Effective Peer Mentors and Developing Workplace Partnerships. Since its inception, over 70 mentors and 55 staff across 38 programs have completed the trainings. Of the roughly dozen organizations in MENTOR’s Mentoring Partnership Network, a national network of mentoring groups, that offer trainings, the TEAM UP Training Institute is one of only a few that offer free program and mentor trainings. “There was no consistent trainings or any core trainings teaching backend design or program management,” said Desiree Robertson, manager of the TEAM UP Youth Mentoring Partnership and the TEAM UP Training Institute. “[As a practitioner,] a lot of mistakes I made at first could have been eliminated if I had just been trained. It’s well warranted when you are prepared and know what is expected of you.” With the goal of expanding mentoring opportunities across the Mid-South, the Institute hosts trainings that detail important steps from building a quality program to screening potential mentors. For new organizations, this provides a push in the right direction and an established partner to lean on. For existing programs the trainings highlight new methods and best practices. The Training Institute provides more than just program trainings. By providing frequent mentor trainings, the Training Institute is able to help encourage mentoring throughout the city. The curriculum, developed in collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters, utilizes research-based data to best prepare mentors. The network of organizations in the TEAM UP Youth Mentoring Partnership means new mentors have a wide variety of choices of where to go after training, taking out a lot of the guess work around where to mentor. At a recent mentor training, Juan Acevedo noted how important many of the skills taught in the training are. “I feel much more prepared [to mentor] than I did going in,” Acevedo said. “As a school teacher, a lot of what I learned can be applied to my students as well. The trainings help you understand how best to support a kid, what they need, that kind of thing. I can carry those skills throughout my life, not just in mentoring.” In the end, the TEAM UP Training Institute is about preparing people and programs to impact children’s lives through mentoring. Most of the time, all that’s needed to make a difference is our time. | 5/7/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 Creating Change With Service and TEAMwork Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Students in the TEAM Mentor Program recently exemplified this idea, creating service projects that touched all corners of Memphis and countless lives. As part of the 8th grade curriculum, scholars from The Soulsville Charter School, KIPP Memphis Collegiate School and Power Center Academy partnered with 11 community organizations to create and implement service learning projects. These projects encouraged the scholars to think critically about ways to serve the Memphis community, while also promoting a sense of civic engagement and responsibility. Representatives provided overviews of their organizations’ needs, but it was up to the students to create, plan and implement the projects. Mentors served as advisors, keeping the students on track. The National Youth Leadership Council, a national organization promoting service learning, defines service learning as “an approach to teaching and learning in which students use academic knowledge and skills to address genuine community needs.” It combines instruction with volunteerism, allowing students to create real-world guided service projects that impact their local community. Combining the TEAM Mentor curriculum with meaningful community service allows scholars to learn about their role in bettering society and the process that goes into planning events. Each TEAM spent two months creating and implementing unique service projects: 1. TEAM Pretty Hustlers of The Soulsville Charter School worked with Carpenter Art Garden to build a compost bin and conduct activities with neighborhood children. 2. Scholars from KIPP Memphis Collegiate School partnered with Greenlaw Community Center to serve meals to the homeless. 3. Power Center Academy TEAM Kreative Goddess Squad led a forum at their school with Facing History & Ourselves on stereotypes, cliques and labels. 4. The Foreign Thinkers TEAM learned about HIV and STD prevention with Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis! of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and hosted a community health fair for their peers at The Soulsville Charter School. 5. KIPP Memphis Collegiate School scholars collected toiletries and essential supplies for seniors and delivered them with MIFA on the Meals on Wheels route. 6. TEAM Dreamcatchers of Power Center Academy worked with the Church Health Center to host a Physical Fitness Day for their peers, featuring a discussion on the importance of health and fitness. 7. The Soulsville Charter School TEAM Six Kings partnered with the Salvation Army’s Purdue Center of Hope and held a basketball skills clinic for shelter residents. 8. Scholars at KIPP Memphis created a recycling campaign for their school with Shelby Farms Parks Conservancy. They also planted trees at Shelby Farms Park as part of the 1 Million Trees Campaign. 9. Power Center Academy scholars partnered with Clean Memphis for the March Watershed Stewardship Challenge and cleaned Nonconnah Creek.  10. TEAM No Fail Zone of The Soulsville Charter School raised over $250 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by selling tickets to a basketball fundraiser featuring teachers and mentors playing against the scholars. 11. Scholars from Power Center Academy decorated FedExFamilyHouse for Easter and assembled welcome packages for the residents. The projects culminated with the 3rd Annual TEAM Mentor Service Learning Championship Finale, where each group presented their project to their family and peers in hopes of being named Service Champions. TEAM Foreign Thinkers placed first, receiving tickets to the Grizzlies vs. Pacers game on Wed., April 15, while the Clean Memphis and Shelby Farms Parks Conservancy teams placed second and third, respectively. All, however, left with a renewed sense of community engagement. “To us, giving back to the community means improving it,” said Cortasia Lott, a Soulsville Charter School scholar that worked with Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis! “Many of my friends have told me they know a lot more about STDs and HIV now [after our service learning project], which was our goal.” When speaking in terms of scholarly growth, “[The biggest improvement was] confidence in themselves, being confident and being experts in HIV and STDs and things of that nature,” said Chris Francheschi, education outreach for Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis! “At first they didn’t have that confidence. They were scared and it was a touchy subject, [but] they put in the hours and dedication to learn the subject and teach others.” It’s safe to say that Margaret Mead would be proud of these students. | 4/21/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 Finding Fulfillment Through Empowerment Purpose Realized A nondescript green door sits in a shopping center on South Mendenhall, sandwiched between a vacant flower shop and small general store. Behind this door, Adrian Winfrey, executive director and founder of GirlzLife Empowerment Program, remembers the journey that brought her here. Flash back to 2006: Adrian Winfrey is working for a children’s ministry. The work is great, but something is missing. What do you do when you feel your work isn’t your calling? “I wasn’t necessarily fulfilled with children’s ministry and I didn’t think that was my purpose,” Winfrey said. “There was no particular reason why the desire was so strong [to start GirlzLife], it just was there for whatever reason. I don’t know.” GirlzLife Empowerment Program, a member of the Grizzlies TEAM UP Youth Mentoring Partnership, tasks young women with overcoming the challenges and socioeconomic factors faced in their homes, schools and communities that negatively influence their behavior and help to create positive change within them. Currently, 21 girls are served in the program: 12 in the GirlzLife center and nine at Veritas College Preparatory Charter School.  A report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, an extension of the United States Department of Justice that guides federal juvenile justice issues, found that truancy starts early and is related to substance abuse, high school dropout and social isolation.  According to Winfrey, she wanted to work with girls that were in these beginning stages of trouble, before they were too far off track. Flash forward, today: GirlzLife Empowerment Program is in its second year, and Winfrey hasn’t looked back. Growth Behind the Green Door Creating your own mentoring program isn’t easy, but when Winfrey was developing Girlzlife, she stumbled across the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring from the National Mentoring Partnership. The program’s teaching concepts were also identified using the 40 developmental assets, defined as the building blocks for healthy development in adolescents, to teach support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, commitment to learning and positive identity and values.  With the handbook’s help and the developmental assets, she was ready to open the green door in about six months. “I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know where to start,” Winfrey laughed. “I didn’t know what to do, and just happened to come across it. That makes it a whole lot easier.” Winfrey worked with the district attorney’s office to find girls between ages 13 and 15 on the cusp of trouble. Recruiting mentors was the biggest struggle, she recalls; out of about 50 women to show interest in mentoring, they ended up with about 15. GirlzLife fills the gap for lessons that aren’t necessarily taught in schools. The most popular of the eight programs administered by GirlzLife is Generation Change, a financial series designed to help the girls see how money works in a real context. “They really had no clue what it takes to run a household, how much money you could actually make on a job, what expenses you could have as an adult,” Winfrey said. “They had no clue about what mortgage would be, or taxes taken out of your check, so it was really exciting. We did budgets and they got a chance to really find out what their parents are dealing with.” Tiara’s Turn When Winfrey reflects on her journey, she’s still not sure what ignited the drive to get her here. Needless to say, countless empowered young women are thankful for Winfrey’s vision. One success stands out in particular to Winfrey. The girl, Tiara, came into the program as “the worst one, worst attitude, very angry, wanting to fight basically every girl in the program,” Winfrey noted. Vicki, the girl’s mentor went to Tiara’s school, talked to her guidance counselors, worked with her mom and helped her improve her grades. Today, Tiara is an honor roll student, a cheerleader and is pledging a high school sorority. Results like this are the reason Winfrey does what she does. While the majority of girls are only required to stay a year, the retention rate is indicative of the program’s overall success: every girl present at the founding of the program is still participating. In the end, that’s what the program is all about: giving girls a second chance to empower themselves. | 3/27/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 Breaking Barriers With Opportunity Statistics show that only 6% of Memphis high school students graduate college-ready. But with a little push and some help from the College Offers Opportunities for Life (COOL) program, a unique class of students can become first-generation college students. MIFA-COOL is a college readiness and life preparedness program for first-generation college student and is part of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA). The organization has supported the independence of vulnerable seniors and families in crisis throughout Memphis for over four decades. COOL currently serves 76 juniors and seniors at George Washington Carver High School and Booker T. Washington High School with GPAs between 2.0 and 3.0. Oftentimes, students with these GPAs tend to fall through the cracks, thinking that college isn’t for them. Furthermore, COOL students and their peers face multiple barriers that stand in the way of making it to college: access to technology, limited financial resources for tests and applications and a lack of confidence in one’s abilities to make it in college, to name a few. Nationally, there are 478 students for every one counselor, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. That means school guidance counselors have limited time to spread among many students, particularly ones that fall in the middle of the grade spectrum. COOL fills that gap by providing one-on-one attention to students in an area they saw had the greatest need, Andrea Hill, COOL Program Manager, said, hoping to “really help broaden their horizon and give them the opportunity to even think about college as an option.” COOL helps students break down college barriers with a guiding hand. When a student doesn’t have a computer or the internet to complete the applications, COOL provides access. When a student can’t afford the ACT testing fee, COOL pays for the test. When students are not sure what forms are needed for the FAFSA or even what that is (Federal Application for Federal Student Aid), COOL has workshops on completing them. When students have trouble with scholarship essays, COOL meets one-on-one to help knock it out and look for other scholarships. When students need a support network to help with the transition from home to college, COOL helps prepare them for success in college and, eventually, career. Overall, COOL walks students along the path to becoming first generation college students. To help further prepare students for college, COOL plans to introduce a mentoring program featuring COOL alumni. In addition to this, Hill also shared future plans to implement a leadership program for the COOL students and a parent institute. By expanding the support network, Hill hopes COOL’s push helps students see everything in front of them and take advantage of their opportunities. “They have options,” Hill said. “We have to really open their eyes … to be able to achieve what they want to achieve.” | 3/20/15 Blog, 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 Providing Young Memphians Their Stage, One Rhyme at a Time Spoken word poetry is an art form that has the power to excite, give insight and unite.  Words become less a form of communication and more a means of inviting others into the speaker’s truth, creating a moving connection. Over the course of four months, local spoken-word artists helped students develop their written and performance skills during “Write On, Speak Out!,” a newly-created Hattiloo Theatre poetry mentorship program funded by the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation. Hailing from across the Greater Memphis area, 16 high school students came together to discover themselves in the context of their community and change societal perceptions of identity and who a person should be through the freedom and autonomy that spoken word provides. For some, that discovery was passionate; for others, painful; for all, powerful. “We started the program with a group of kids who performed their poetry, many for the first time, at their individual school poetry slams,” Calley Anderson, program coordinator at Hattiloo Theatre, remembers. “They were timid and far from performance-ready at the time, but they had the courage to step to a microphone and tell their truth.” The high school program aids in college preparation and essential skill-building through the medium of spoken word poetry, enhancing the students’ writing, performance, presentation and communication skills before taking the stage. Further cultivating their talent and helping foster confidence in their own creativity, students are also assigned one of four local mentor-poets that work with them in one-on-one and group sessions. These mentor-poets guide the students through a number of workshops designed to develop their written and performance skills, including lessons on self expression and using spoken word to comment on unique local or personal issues; exploring the voice and body as political texts; and helping mentees develop confidence in their work. The program also places an emphasis on preparing for the college application essay, furthering the Foundation’s commitment to ensuring that Memphis students graduate college ready. According to Anderson, the students’ progress was nothing short of phenomenal. “They have become the embodiment of spoken-word artists who unabashedly tell their truths to a room full of strangers and do it with the performance and articulation skills that we have coached,” said Anderson. “It is a stunning process to see that expansion, to see how passionately and whole-heartedly these kids jumped into this program. They trusted their mentors and they trusted us as program coordinators to steer them in the right direction. Yet, in many ways, they steered us. They showed us the depths of potential, the reach of the human spirit, the ferocity of language, and the power of mentorship.” That depth, reach, ferocity and power was on full display at the Write On, Speak Out! Showcase on Feb. 14 – 22, demonstrating each of the students’ talent, creativity and hard work. The students touched on themes including gender identity, racial discrimination, ambition and the relationship between religion and science. “My mentees really responded to the one-on-ones, and the outings built bonds amongst peers,” Tim Dotson, one of the mentor-poets, said. “It wasn’t until seeing the showcase rehearsals that I began to see the kids taking ownership; performing and giving life to art they created.” The program culminated Feb. 27 and March 1 with the Poetry Slam Finale at Hattiloo Theatre, an annual city-wide spoken word contest for 9th – 11th grade students that recognizes and rewards personal expression and effective public speaking based on real life experiences. The finale saw twelve students take the stage, vying for the honor of being named the 2015 Memphis Grizzlies Poetry Slam Champion. This year’s winner was Shanterica Reed, an 11th grader at Memphis Health Careers Academy. She received a $500 college preparatory stipend and a new Apple MacBook Air. “In writing this poem my biggest inspiration was my struggle: what’s real to me and what moves me. I have never had a ‘normal’ life. I have been talked about plenty and I figured either let it control my destiny or prove them wrong,” Reed said of her inspiration. “That’s why it’s easy to write, because I’m writing my truth and telling my story.” Hattiloo Theatre’s mission is to develop a black theatre that is accessible to, relevant to, and reflective of a multi-cultural community. Visit for more information. | 3/5/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 GrizzFIT Kids Bootcamp Teaches Fitness and Life-Skills According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the last 30 years, and today 1 in 4 Memphis children suffer from obesity. A study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine also found links between exercise and increased academic performance, and with the decline of physical activity programs in schools, many students are missing out. The GrizzFIT Kids Bootcamp strives to fill the youth fitness gap. This initiative for Memphis area 8-14 year olds that embodies the idea that exercise, mental health and social well-being work together in an environment where physical activity leads to positive influences in children’s lives. The program officially began its spring season with the GrizzFIT Draft Combine on Jan. 27 as part of NBA Fit Live Healthy Week presented by Kaiser Permanente. Over 160 participants from all three bootcamp locations came together for the first time to run through a series of fitness challenges on the Grizzlies Practice Court. The kids set personal baselines in push-ups, sprints, broad jumps, speed and curl-ups, which will be compared to baselines taken later in the program to show progress. The program is now entering its third week of eight weeks of physical activity, team-building exercises and nutrition lessons. Each week, the Bootcamp focuses on three aspects of fitness: physical, social and mental. Physical fitness is the main aspect of the program, and students learn this through proper exercise techniques and fitness challenges. Social fitness comes through the participants’ positive interactions with each other, teaching them the importance of teambuilding and building a network of social support. Mental fitness is instilled through holding oneself accountable for schoolwork and an at-home nutrition activity, in which students have to make healthy decisions and keep a log of their wellness behavior. The 90 minute bootcamp sessions are led by coaches that guide the students through these three aspects. Weeks focus on power, speed, agility, strength and core, introduced through group and individual exercise techniques. Students are also tasked with logging their wellness behavior at home, ensuring they are thinking about nutrition and fitness even outside the program, as well as character challenges, requiring them to demonstrate life and leadership skills throughout the week. The GrizzFIT Kids Bootcamp is part of GrizzFIT, a platform that promotes the benefits of a healthy lifestyle by encouraging people to make nutritious food choices, exercise daily and have fun doing it.  The program operates out of three locations around Memphis: Downtown at Streets Ministries and Tom Lee Park at Beale St. Landing, Midtown at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center, and Graham Heights at Streets Ministries and Kingsbury Elementary School. | 2/27/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 Staxtacular: A New Spin On A Classic Record The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is filled with legends: records of legendary soul musicians line the walls of the Museum and, as the former site of Stax Records, countless artists have recorded chart-topping hits within the walls. The Stax legacy continues to this day at the Stax Music Academy and Soulsville Charter School, where Stax uses the power of music and opportunity to shape young people’s lives and keep valuable history alive. Benefitting the non-profit Soulsville Foundation and in partnership with the Memphis Grizzlies, Staxtacular 2015 Presented by Suntrust brought together the worlds of basketball and music, raising $200,690.  The Grizzlies core four Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph hosted the sold-out event, leading Staxtacular 2015 to be one of the Soulsville Foundation’s most successful events to date. At the annual fundraiser, roughly 640 party-goers had full reign of the Stax Museum and parts of the Stax Music Academy. In addition, the evening offered plenty to do, including auctions featuring Grizzlies memorabilia, travel packages, original artwork from local artists and much more.  The talented Stax Music Academy students performed throughout the night, from soul performances in the Museum to a Jazz Jam in the Academy, followed by a spirited performance from the Bo-Keys and Stax Records legend William Bell. The food rivaled any fine dining experience: pyramids of fruits and desserts, made to order tacos and pasta and even sushi were available around almost every corner, looking almost too good to eat. When not enjoying the food, music or drinks (the exclusive Staxtini was a popular hit!), guests mingled with the entire Grizzlies team roster. Staxtacular helps fund the work happening at the Soulsville Foundation.  Funds raised support the tuition-free Soulsville Charter School, provide the need-based Soul Children Scholarships for Stax Music Academy attendees and ensure the continued operation of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. So what makes the Soulsville, USA community so unique? Students in the Stax Music Academy have performed at home in Washington, D.C. and abroad in Germany, Italy and Australia, spreading the unique Memphis sound the Stax Academy promotes across the nation and the world. Serving more than 2,500 students, the Stax Music Academy teaches vocals, instrumentals, music writing, production and other aspects to help students lead the Memphis sound into the next generation. Next door is the Soulsville Charter School, serving 530 students in grades 6-12 that provides an academically rigorous but music-rich environment for learning. Founded in 2005, the Soulsville Charter School’s first graduating class in 2012 had a 100% college acceptance rate – and so has every class since. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music pays tribute to the soul legends that recorded at Stax Records, and remains the world’s first and only soul music museum showcasing Memphis soul to a new generation. The idea for Staxtacular was born in 2005, when former Grizzlies players Shane Battier and Brian Cardinal and their wives, inspired by the Stax Records legacy and encouraged by the Soulsville Foundation’s work with at-risk young people, offered to host a fundraiser. A hit every year since, Staxtacular is now hosted by current Grizzlies players and remains one of the most popular fundraising events in Memphis, raising over $1 million since its inception. The Soulsville Foundation is a Memphis, Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and the Soulsville Charter School. In addition to operating the world’s only soul music museum, its mission is to provide leadership and financial support that promotes and utilizes the music and heritage of Soulsville USA to develop young people for lifelong success. For more information, visit | 2/18/15 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00 The Coach’s Changing Role In the hit NBC series Friday Night Lights, Coach Taylor was the quintessential coach-mentor: strict and moral, but fair and dedicated, a strong and level-headed mentor figure for his kids, many of whom lacked guidelines. Parents have probably longed for someone like Coach Taylor, someone who wasn’t just a coach, but a teacher, mentor and leader. The Memphis Grizzlies Foundation partnership with Up2Us, the leading organization promoting and training coaches in sports-based youth development (SBYD), is advancing sports as a tool to address the critical social issues facing our youth. SBYD focuses on using sports as a solution to youth and community problems by providing coaches with the necessary training and support to coach kids not only in sports skill building, but also in character skill building. Coaches learn how to congratulate successes while encouraging constant growth, create safe spaces that teach emotional and physical safety, and foster the social support of a team. Starting this year, all GrizzFIT coaches will be required to complete SBYD training through Up2Us. The coach’s role is to leverage sports to build strong and meaningful relationships with young people, helping to prepare them for success in college, career and life, and the training will further their commitment and development to mentor effectively. GrizzFIT promotes the benefits of a healthy lifestyle by encouraging people to make nutritious food choices, to exercise regularly and to have fun doing it. Within the GrizzFIT platform lies the TEAM UP Youth Sports Partnership, a coalition of community organizations that use sport as a catalyst for youth development. Fully embodying the coach’s changing role, partnership organizations Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM), Streets Ministries and Grizzlies Prep are a part of a dedicated force committed to making SBYD training mandatory for coaches. “They (Up2Us) treat character and leadership and resilience and all the different components that go into life and personality as much a skill as they do the sport,” said Joel Katz, manager of the TEAM UP Youth Sports Partnership. “Winning is important, and the training will not say it isn’t, because it is. But it’s understanding how to win, it’s understanding what it takes to win, it’s getting kids to believe in the process.” Katz sees the required training as a way to redefine the coach’s typical role, and his enthusiasm for the possibilities is infectious. GrizzFIT is deep in many communities, and the training is seen as a way to bridge youth sports and mentoring. Many times, recreational coaches are volunteers and don’t have any formal training or professional development. The SBYD training helps demonstrate how coaches can also be mentors, utilizing the special relationship between coaches and kids to reach past sports skills and into life skills. In a program like GrizzFIT, where many participants may not have access to positive role models, the training helps coaches fill a void. Coaches often come out of training with a new energy and appreciation of coaching. By learning new coaching techniques that can be directly applied to their teams, they become more confident in their own abilities, a confidence that is then directed to the kids. Sports can be a catalyst for driving leadership development, and with SBYD training, coaches will understand how to draw out, expand and ultimately create future community leaders. | 1/29/15 Blog, 2015-05-21T21:07:05+00:00