community engagement

Building consensus and buy-in with schools

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A conversation with Janet Thompson Let’s start with the strategy and how it’s evolved. Can you talk about how you’ve approached building relationships in the schools and how that approach has developed this year? When I came on board with MMI, I really felt that my first priority should be to extend the reach of […]

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Our strategy: introducing the Institute for Nonprofit Excellence

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by Kiesha Davis With a multitude of challenges, the nonprofit sector working with community to support those needs are often pushed beyond their own capacity to do so. Sector leaders, and those all to often focused on serving communities of color, are routinely faced with a barrage of competing interests calling for their attention and […]

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Developing the approach: MMI’s in-school strategy

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A conversation with MMI Executive Director Darren Isom Talk about the development of the in-school strategy. The in-school program strategy plays a critical role in the success of MMI’s larger youth and community impact strategy.  Key to the success of our work is engaging students in all facets of their lives. And schools, important in […]

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Shelectricity: energizing girls for innovative lives

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by Tawanna Brown It was a stormy Saturday morning in April, but the rains did little to deter the more than 100 middle school girls, parents and girl allies who showed up for Shelectricity’s Memphis Listening Party.  It was a festive affair that included girl-power music, from Alecia Keys to Aretha Franklin, spun by DJ […]

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Visible Community Music School at Su Casa

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by VCMS Staff At Visible Community Music School, we’ve just finished our first semester working with kids in the Berclair/Graham neighborhoods through a partnership with Su Casa Family Ministries.  With the help of Su Casa staff, Tim Jewett and Ceci Fortier, we were able to give piano and guitar lessons to 15 eager and excited students […]

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Getting teachers and principals to the “Room Where it Happens”

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  by Morgan Beckford When I first returned to Memphis after teaching in Virginia, I worked for Opera Memphis as the Coordinator for Education and Outreach. My charge was simple: find opportunities for local students to engage with Opera Memphis. I accepted the challenge; over the first month, I drafted an email list that included […]

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The real work of collaboration

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by Doug Waddill Ever since the dawn of the motivational poster, we have been inundated with clichés about how working together will make us stronger.  I know right now you are picturing the rowboat on the water with the bold letter caption underneath reading “TEAM — Together Everyone Achieves More,” the framed quote of “Teamwork […]

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No sound barriers

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by Afa S. Dworkin At this critically important time in our nation’s history, equity and inclusion are ever more relevant to our greater society and our beloved field. When words fall short, music and the arts have the capacity to transcend the barriers of culture, race and beliefs, to inspire empathy and the will to […]

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The Spark

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by Jeff Kollath “You can’t start a fire without a spark…” – Bruce Springsteen I began my career at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on June 8, 2015; I met staff from the Memphis Music Initiative on June 22, 2015. Needless to say, MMI has been there all along for the museum and […]

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Q&A with Alberto Mejia of Creative Action

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MMI: Let’s start with a bit of background on Creative Action. Tell me about the organization’s work, a little about the history and how/when you became involved. Alberto Mejia: Creative Action’s mission is to spark the emotional, social and academic development of young people through cultural arts and creativity. Owning the fact that I’m relatively […]

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