project leader
Ali J
1350 Concourse Ave, Suite 434
(Frayser, Raleigh, Uptown, Klondike, South Memphis, Whitehaven, Berclair, Orange Mound, East Memphis, Parkway Village, Cordova)
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the project

The mission of Memphis Education Fund (MEF) is to create great public schools for ALL Memphis students. School closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have turned mothers and fathers into teachers and living rooms into classrooms. We are living out our mission by pivoting our grantmaking work to directly support Memphis families with up to $250 grants for Rent, Utilties, Transportation, Medicine, Cleaning Supplies, Education Supplies or Other Essential Needs. Through generous support from one of our national funders, we were able to allocate $100,000 during the First Wave of grants in the Family Grant Initiative; these funds were able to support 500 families, equating to over 1,300 students, in Memphis. 

The process to distribute the funds was collaborative, impartial and data-driven. MEF engaged community-based non-profits to aid in the planning process; the Review Committee consisted of leaders from The Memphis Lift, Communities in Schools, Tenneseee Charter School Center, Whole Child Strategies, and Stand for Children. The Review Committee collaboratively designed a process that was equitable, transparent and timely, consisting of online forms designed to allow families in need to communicate their information and elaborate on their needs.  

Upon execution of the online forms, the Family Grant reached its capacity to serve 500 families in under 24 hours; currently, over 2,000 forms have been submitted to the online portal, from neighborhoods and schools all over the city of Memphis. As we issue the First Wave of grants to the first 500 qualified families to submit their form, we are understanding more deeply that there is a dire need beyond our current capability. We are looking to YOU - our allies in this work, our friends, our families - to make a any gift, whether it be of $150, $200, $250 or $1,000.  Your gift will support Memphis students and families during an unprecendented and uncertain time in their lives. 

the steps

Project Steps: 

1. Fundraise - Raise $50,000 from Memphis' most generous philanthropists and foundations

2. Fund Matching - In Our Backyard (ioby) website 

3. Data Mining - Clean and review the data; identify 250 family recipients

4. Notification - Notify families of their Family Grant support; confirm fund disbursement method

5. Disbursement - Mail checks / process via PayPal 

why we're doing it

Memphis is a unique city in many ways. The median household income for Memphians is around $34,000 compared to $60,000 nationally. In spite of the ravages of generational poverty, Memphians are a proud, optimistic and compassionate people. We know that Memphis students and families are doing all they can to keep afloat during the COVID-19-caused economic recession. This grant program is aimed at helping those families, who, in spite of all of their efforts, need a little extra help to make it through this crisis. Below are some anonymous quotes from the forms we have received: 

"I've had my own home for years but when my job closed I was forced to make tough decisions. I had to give up my home an move in with my mom because of loss of income could longer afford it. Then I have to feed my son an I. As a single mom I really hope things get better."

"Currently in need of $185 for rent and needing to replace car battery/tires in order to have working transportation."

"One of the students (12th grade) has an infant daughter who she takes care of and needs assistance with essentials (healthy snacks, pull-ups, medicine...)"

"Currently laid off of work with no current income outside of SNAP. On a listed to be called back to work from home in calling center, but work has been low due to COVID-19 and able to gain opportunity to work for call center. Tenant rights have been a concern. Eviction notice was given with rescheduled court date of May 5, 2020. Needing supports to pay rent at this time and to purchase sanitizing supplies for home."

Here are some messages of gratitude from the first 500 families we've served: 

"Thank you sooooo very much!!! This just really blessed me in ways you will never understand. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!"

"I can not express my gratitude in this most difficult time but I am so grateful to you all for your consideration and ultimately selecting my family! We will all sleep a little easier tonight."

"I really APPRECIATE this blessing and the other resources that your organization provided. Many blessings to you and your organization"


Disbursement budget:


TOTAL RAISED = $6,400.00 $6,400.00
ioby Platform Fee waived $35.00
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $132.00 $130.95
TOTAL TO DISBURSE= $6,268.00 $6,234.05

Family Grants for Rent/Utilities  $ 2,406.50

Family Grants for Medicine, Cleaning and Transportation  $ 1,443.90

Family Grants for Education Supplies and Other Essential Needs $ 962.60


TOTAL RAISED = $4,900.00 $4,900.00
ioby Platform Fee waived $35.00
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $87.00 $87.00
TOTAL TO DISBURSE= $4,813.00 $4,778.00

Original Budget:

Family Grants for Rent/Utilities: $25,000

Family Grants for Medicine, Cleaning and Transportation: $15,000

Family Grants for Education Supplies and Other Essential Needs: $10,000

Total: $50,000


ioby Platform Fee$35

ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)$1,547



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This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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