MMI Writes

Three life lessons I learned while working in juvenile justice

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by Desiree Coleman Long before I had the pleasure of reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, I understood firsthand what disproportionate minority contact meant.  I spent close to 10 years working in the nation’s capital, with some of the most vulnerable communities, including incarcerated youth.  I worked in a juvenile justice system that was […]

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Lessons in giving

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by Toya Randall Much of my success has been and continues to be fueled by women. I first experienced the power of an organized network of women growing up under the care of my mother, grandmothers and aunts. Theirs was a unique sisterhood brought to fruition by my birth to teenage parents. Over the course […]

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Five strategies for advancing racial equity in public education

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by Sam O’Bryant When I began working in Memphis in 2012, I arrived during the halfway point of a major investment in teacher effectiveness. While the work was worthy and victories were won, the focus was on making teachers the absolute best they could be. Like most education reform, there was an absence of specific […]

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Don’t talk to me about diversity

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by Denise St. Omer I’m tired of talking about diversity. You heard me right. I’m a black woman in philanthropy and I’m done engaging in conversations about diversity. Conversations about diversity create spaces for people to engage in activities that make them feel like they’re doing something, but don’t actually move forward toward creating inclusive […]

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Philanthropic redlining in practice

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A conversation with Lar’Juanette Williams, Memphis Black Arts Alliance In the study, we explore this idea of “philanthropic redlining,” where essentially certain groups – primarily black- and brown-led organizations – are just excluded from traditional funding. Can you explain how you have experienced that with Memphis Black Arts Alliance or within the nonprofit sector? I […]

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Using what we know to guide what we do

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by Doug Waddill “I know, I know, I know…oooh oooh, call on me, I know…”  We have all been in classes with THAT guy or girl.  The “know it all.”  As a former teacher, I was always amazed at that stereotypical kid that had to be first and had to know it all.  Usually when […]

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A view of value

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by Tawanna Brown Detroit, Michigan reminds me a lot of Memphis. As a first-time attendee of this year’s Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) Conference, there were aspects of the convening, held in Detroit, that felt very familiar. Both cities hug mighty rivers, entrenched in histories muddied with issues of race and class. Though world-renowned transportation operations are […]

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Honoring crossroads

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by Kiesha Davis This summer as we closed out the last learning session for leaders of youth serving music organizations in our Institute for Nonprofit Excellence (INE), a capacity building model developed as an approach to supporting the organizational development goals, we offered a panel discussion on nonprofit operational practices.  Over the prior months, cohort participants […]

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Even when it’s messy

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by Brittney Boyd Bullock I recently attended the National Guild for Community Arts Education Conference, where I met incredible people working in the field of healing and trauma-related spaces. Now, when I walk into a room I always assess the environment and most times I’m looking for the seat where I want my energy to […]

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Shifting from pain to promise

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by Rhonda Broussard What if solving for pain points isn’t good enough?  From product designers to UX/UL to social entrepreneurs, we’ve been trained to get close to the problem.  Bryan Stevenson urges us to get proximate to people so that we can really understand their pain.  Last year, we worked with Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) […]

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