BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation Launches Healthy Place Program in Memphis

$5.4 million investment will create revitalized space for community activity

 The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation has announced that the first project under its new strategic focus, the BlueCross Healthy Place℠ program, will be an expansive, revitalized public space at David Carnes Park in Memphis.

In total, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation is investing as much as $5.4 million in the Whitehaven neighborhood park. Up to $4.5 million will go toward construction of the park and its facilities, along with a $900,000 endowment earmarked for its maintenance and care.

The BlueCross Healthy Place program provides neighborhoods with communal spaces for healthy activities, improving the overall wellbeing of Tennesseans.

“Concentrating our giving on BlueCross Healthy Places will allow us to have a bigger impact within our communities, reaching both urban and rural areas across the state,” said Scott Neal Wilson, BlueCross director of community relations and health foundation. “We’re excited about the potential of these projects, and we are honored to partner with the city of Memphis to launch this new focus.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee gathered feedback for the Memphis project during a community meeting held at Greater Faith Tabernacle Ministries on Monday, April 16. Mayor Jim Strickland and Councilwoman Patrice Robinson were in attendance, along with Kevin Woods, BlueCross Memphis market president.

“The BlueCross Healthy Place program shares one of our top priorities: healthy, inviting public spaces for our citizens. That’s why we’re so grateful for this partnership with the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, and we’re looking forward to enhancing this park for neighbors here in Whitehaven,” said Strickland.

BlueCross Healthy Place projects are collaborations with the communities they serve. During the planning phase, representatives meet with community members to hear their ideas and ensure the space is tailored to the needs of area residents. Finalized BlueCross Healthy Places may include a number of elements, such as athletic fields, walking tracks, playgrounds and fitness areas.

The Memphis site was selected in partnership with the city and in response to community residents who previously expressed interest in having more resources for the park.

“Input from residents is crucial to the project’s success. The space will be an asset to their community – an area where they can be active and form new connections. It will truly be a hub of renewed civic activity and a jewel in the Memphis park system,” added Woods.

The project will be completed with PlayCore, a national play and recreation company. Efforts will be made to work with local and diverse suppliers.

Additional competitive funding opportunities for future BlueCross Healthy Place projects across the state will be announced in the fall. For the latest updates on the Memphis project, please visit

For additional resources related to the BlueCross Healthy Place program, please visit


The Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) along with the Uptown Advisory Committee is planning a week-long charrette to give residents, business owners and community stakeholders a voice in the Uptown Community Planning process. The Charrette will be held from April 16 – 20, 2018 at the Neighborhood Christian Center, located at 785 Jackson Ave in the redevelopment area.
The community meetings are designed to gather input from community residents and stakeholders in an inclusive and interactive way. Throughout the week there will be fun pop-up events throughout the neighborhoods in the redevelopment area. Friday, April 20th, the CRA Team will share with the public early recommendations and close the week with an Uptown themed community block party at the Explore Bike Share Warehouse at 61 Keel.
“During the Uptown community planning process, residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinions and influence public decisions,” said Tanja Mitchell, CRA Uptown Neighborhood Coordinator. “This is the community’s plan; therefore it is important that residents bring their authentic voice to the table and participate in shaping the future of the community in which they call home. As both an employee of the CRA and a resident of Uptown, I encourage my neighbors to the north, south and east to come out be a part of the planning process.”
Over the next 14 years, more than $95 million will be generated in the Uptown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district which includes not only Uptown but parts of Smokey City, New Chicago, North Parkway, Carnes and the Medical District which are in District 7. “I want to encourage every Uptown resident to participate in the Uptown Community Plan Planning process,” said Berlin Boyd, Chairman, Memphis City Council. “This is an important opportunity to be a part of the process on the forefront and have a say in where and how funds should be allocated to enhance the community.
I guarantee you will feel a great sense of pride and inclusion knowing that you participated in this worthwhile endeavor and had a direct impact and influence on the decisions being made.”
The CRA encourages those not able to attend the public meetings to provide input by completing the survey found at A full listing of all of the public meetings, pop-up locations, and daily recaps can be found on the website.
About the Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency
The City of Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency was created to review applications for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts and expenditures of TIF Funds. The seven-member Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors are appointed by the Mayor of Memphis and Mayor of Shelby County. They are responsible for working with the CRA staff to participate in partnerships that encourage reinvestment in neighborhoods.

The Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis Award $15,000 in Grants

The Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis awards the following grants for applications that were submitted December 2017.  Each organization will receive a $5,000 grant for a total of $15,000 this grant cycle.

Benjamin L. Hooks Institute (U of M) Hooks African American Male Initiative (HAAMI)

The program was developed to improve the retention and graduation rates of African American males at the University of Memphis.  HAAMI outcomes show that the program has a measurable, positive impact on increasing the retention and graduation rates of its participants.

The grant will go to assist with funding the following: $1,000 –Community Awareness – encourages the members to be positive contributors to the community. Community awareness experiences such as attending local cultural activities, conferences and other developmental opportunities expose HAAMI students to community assets as well as community needs; $1,500 – HAAMI Mentoring session – students benefit from interacting with university faculty and staff and community professionals by gaining insights from them regarding the importance of academic success, goal setting and career readiness;

$2,500 – Student Supplies – This funding allocation would be used for supplies given to new HAAMI members (estimated at 20): student business cards, business portfolios and a $100 book stipend. Daphene McFerren is the Executive Director of the Hooks Institute.

The S.O. What! Foundation

The mission of the S.O. What Foundation is to help youth and young adults overcome obstacles and eliminate excuses hindering individual and family success. The foundation was started by Summer Owens to help challenged youth find themselves, make good decisions, dream and pursue their dreams regardless of the obstacles they face.

The grant will assist with the following: The Summer Experience and Workshop Series

$2,500 – Program facilitator/camp leader; $1,000 – Supplies including workshop materials, t-shirts, books and workbook for the curriculum used; $500 – Transportation to get participants to and from meeting locations as well as field trip destinations (job shadowing, volunteer projects, college tours, restaurants/etiquette training, etc.);$1,000 – Meals (breakfast and lunch)

 The Entrepreneur Training Institute

This award is to assist individuals that are unemployed or underemployed in this community gain the educational tools to become entrepreneurs. This grant will serve as a part of the seed funding to open the Entrepreneur Training Institute. The Program Director is Beverly Anderson.

About PBWM

The Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis’ focus centers around education, children and families, and programs that prepare Memphis citizens to become self-sufficient. To date, with these three new grants, PBWM has awarded $70,000. This is the culmination of the 2017 grant cycle. Members of the organization include: Mary McDaniel, Edith Kelly-Green, Carolyn Hardy, Debra Evans, Monice Hagler, Nelda Burroughs, Deidre Malone and Belinda Watkins. For more information about the PBWM and future grant opportunities, visit the website at

The Carter Malone Group, LLC Expands Into the Jackson, MS Market

One of the largest female owned public relations firms headquartered in Memphis, TN has opened an office in Jackson, MS. The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) moved into the market to work with current clients and explore new opportunities. The office is located at the 1230 Raymond Road, Suite 1009, Jackson, MS, 39204.

CMG is a public relations, marketing, advertising and government relations firm founded by Deidre Carter Malone in 2003. She serves as president and chief executive officer of the organization.

“Our team is excited to enter the Jackson, MS market,” said Malone. “We look forward to continuing to provide quality service to our current and new clients and to grow our business in this new market.”

Currently, CMG has clients in Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Chicago and Washington, DC. In May of this year the firm will celebrate 15 years of being in business.

The City of Memphis Receives $45,000 For The Memphis Heritage Trail Project

Grant supports diversity on the National Register of Historic Places

The City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development received a $45,000 grant from the National Park Service (NPS) for the Memphis Heritage Trail (MHT) initiative. The grant is one of 13 grants from the NPS that will help increase the number of historic listings associated with communities that are underrepresented on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The National Park Service is working with states, tribes and local governments to help more people connect with their history and explore America’s diverse stories,” NPS Deputy Director Michael T. Reynolds said. “These grants will fund projects that recognize and preserve places that will educate and inspire future generations of Americans.”

MHT leaders plan to use the funds to create an in-depth analysis and survey that can ultimately lead to recognition on historic registers and a designation as a historic district. The study will help locate, identify and evaluate the sites, buildings, structures, material culture and individuals that are associated with the historical and socio-cultural development in Memphis.

“As we plan for MLK50, this grant provided an excellent opportunity for us to recognize the historic African-American locations in Memphis,” said Felicia Harris, manager of Planning and Development for the City of Memphis. “I am so thankful the opportunity to evaluate the historic resources in our city for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.”

The MHT is a historic 20-block redevelopment area in downtown and south Memphis. The project has been in the works since 2008 and includes the area bordered by Beale Street on the north, Main Street on the west, Crump Boulevard on the south and Walnut Street on the east. Some locations within the area are: Clayborn Temple, Mason

Temple, First Baptist Beale, Withers Gallery, the Universal Life Building and the

National Civil Rights Museum. It is considered the epicenter of African-American history, heritage and culture and will include a walking trail with historical markers, a customized app along with technological features and art installations.

About MHT

Memphis Heritage Trail is an expansive community redevelopment plan to celebrate the rich business, culture and musical heritage of African-American achievements in Memphis. The project brings historical tourism, urban redevelopment and city-wide pride to important public spaces. More information is available at

About National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

FAFSA Memphis Kickoff- Major Push to the Goal Line

Graduate Memphis’ theme is Start. Stay. Finish!

Students looking for help with post-secondary education costs can get a head-start on completing the essential Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at workshops located at Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on Sunday, October 1 and Saturday, October 7, 2017. The FAFSA Kickoff will consist of workshops for students and parents to complete their FAFSA, with a goal of getting the students to start college, and persist through degree completion.

Graduate Memphis and its community partners are doing their part to make sure graduating seniors and adult learners are aware of the opening of FAFSA on October 1 for the 2018-2019 academic year. “Completing the FAFSA is a critical first step in preparing for college enrollment. Graduate Memphis, along with our partners and volunteers are prepared to assist as many parents of graduating juniors and seniors as well as adults seeking to enroll in college with completing the FAFSA. The early submission of the financial aid application allows families to better plan financially for the upcoming academic year,” said Reneé McCreight, Senior Director of Graduate Memphis.

Upcoming FAFSA workshops include:

Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library – 3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111 Sunday, October 1, 2017

1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library – 3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111 Saturday October 7, 2017

1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Last year more than 7,000 Shelby County high school seniors completed the FAFSA. Graduate Memphis and partners are trying to make sure that eligible students and adult learners interested in enrolling in a technical/career, 2 year or 4 year college or university have the opportunity to ask questions and gain accurate information from knowledgeable, trained staff and volunteers.

For more information about the FAFSA Weekend and how you can get involved, contact Renee McCreight, Senior Director for Graduate Memphis at 901.415.2774 Or Visit the website at  Graduate Memphis is an action initiative of Leadership Memphis.

Leadership Memphis

Leadership Memphis is a non-profit, community leadership development organization. Its mission is to prepare and mobilize leaders to work together for the good of the whole

community. Founded in 1977 as the Memphis Institute of Public Responsibility, the organization has trained and graduated more than 2,500 leaders from its signature programs: Executive and FastTrack, Criminal/Juvenile Justice, and Grassroots. Its Action Initiatives include Graduate Memphis and Volunteer Memphis.

Lauterbach to present at Heritage Trail event

Award-winning author Preston Lauterbach will share the rich and vibrant history of Downtown Memphis at a Memphis Heritage Trail event on Friday, Sept. 8.
The event is being presented by the Division of Housing and Community Development as part of its Neighborhood Connect podcast, produced by KUDZUKIAN. Free and open to the public, the event will take place at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 8 at the Paradise Event Center, 645 E. Georgia Ave.
Author of the award-winning books “Beale Street Dynasty” and “The Chitlin Circuit,” a Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and NPR book of the year, Lauterbach will specifically highlight the Memphis Heritage Trail district, a historic 20-block Downtown area that is considered the epicenter of local African-American history, heritage and culture.
“Memphis Heritage Trail highlights the rich African-American history in this community and provides a stimulus for our economy,” HCD Director Paul A. Young said. “The dialogue with Preston Lauterbach will amplify the stories and experiences that make the South City neighborhood such a significant asset to this city.”
After Lauterbach brings the history of Downtown Memphis to life, the audience will hear an update on the status of the MHT project, which celebrates the rich business, cultural and musical heritage of African-American achievements in Memphis. The floor will then be open for questions.
Lauterbach is the first guest of the new season of the Neighborhood Connect podcast. The Neighborhood Connect podcast serves as a portal for people to learn about the culturally rich communities and neighborhoods of Memphis.
“At KUDZUKIAN, we are dedicated to making different voices in the community heard through excellent programming,” Larry Robinson, the founder of KUDZUKIAN, said. “We are very excited to have Preston Lauterbach share the amazing role the African-American community played and continues to play in Memphis.”
ABOUT MEMPHIS HERITAGE TRAIL: Memphis Heritage Trail is an expansive community redevelopment plan that brings historical tourism, urban redevelopment and city-wide pride to important public spaces. The MHT is a historic 20-block redevelopment area that includes the area bordered by Beale Street on the north, Main Street on the west, Crump Boulevard on the south and Manassas Street on the east. Buildings within the area are: Clayborn Temple, Mason Temple, First Baptist Beale, the Universal Life Building and the National Civil Rights Museum. It is considered the epicenter of African-American history, heritage and culture and will include a walking trail with historical markers. More information is available at


Vickie Terry was tapped for the top position at the local branch.

After a five month search, the NAACP Memphis Branch has
hired Vickie Terry as the new Executive Director for the organization. The former Fund
Development and Major Gifts Manager for United Way of the Mid-South will be responsible for
the day-to-day operations of the branch focusing on programs, advocacy, fund development
and membership. Terry will work closely with the local branch president and Executive
Committee on continuing the work of the branch.
“We took our time to find the right leader for the Memphis Branch and I believe we have that
person in Vickie Terry,” said Deidre Malone, President, NAACP Memphis Branch. “Vickie
understands the non-profit market and has worked on programs that focus on the betterment of
our community. We look forward to working with her to achieve our goals for the Memphis
Terry started in her new role on Monday, July 24th and attended the National NAACP
Convention to learn from national and state leadership the direction of the parent organization.
“As a member of the NAACP, I’m honored to serve in this role and work with our leadership to
take the Memphis Branch to the next level,” said Vickie Terry, Executive Director, NAACP
Memphis Branch. “I look forward to leveraging my longstanding relationships in the community
to educate people on the work we are doing today and cultivating new partnerships to grow our
programs that are so needed in this community.”
The NAACP Memphis Branch meets every 4th Sunday at 4pm at Mt. Olive CME Church at 538
Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. These meetings are open to the public.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s
oldest civil rights organization. The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational,
social and economic equality of rights for all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial
discrimination. The Memphis Branch is one of the largest branches in the organization.

The TRANSFORMATION50 Basketball & Life Skills Camp, Awards Gala and Righteous Revolution Rally This Week

The TRANSFORMATION50 Basketball & Life Skills Camp sponsored by the Tarik Black Foundation begins on Monday, July 10, 2017 at Ridgeway High School at 2009 Ridgeway Road. The 4-day camp will host 50 male students who will learn basketball techniques, police etiquette, table etiquette, and other life skills. The camp is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On Thursday evening, there will be an awards gala for camp participants with NBA player and foundation CEO Tarik Black serving as the keynote speaker. Four individuals who have had a major impact on Tarik’s life will receive awards in their honor. This event will be held at the Church of the Holy Communion at Cheney Parish Hall at 4645 Walnut Grove starting at 6:30 p.m. This event is only for campers and invited guests.
On Friday, the Righteous Revolution Rally will be from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. across the street from Mt. Olive C.M.E. Church at 538 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. The goal is to promote unity, love and power to the Memphis community. The general public is invited to this event.

The Tarik Black Foundation was founded by Tarik Black, a NBA player. The Memphis native, who graduated from Ridgeway High School, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis and his master’s degree from the University of Kansas. The Tarik Black Foundation, headquartered in Black’s hometown, Memphis, TN provides programs and recognizes causes that offer help bring about positive change in communities. The foundation is managed by Judith Black Moore who serves as president and oversees day-to-day operations.


The event features free camel rides food, drinks and family-friendly entertainment

 The Anti-Violence Safe Summer Block Party Series kicks off its second year on Friday, July 14, 2017 at Hickory Ridge Middle School, 3920 Ridgeway Rd., from 5 – 7 p.m. The event, free and open to public, will feature a petting zoo with exotic animals, food and drinks, music, games, motivational speakers and informative sessions lead by community organizations. The exotic animals are new this year and will include kangaroos, tortoises and free camel rides.

The successful series saw more than 3,000 people come together last year in support of neighborhood peace and anti-violence. Block parties will also be held at: Cordova High School, Trezevant High School, John P. Freeman Optional School, Craigmont High School and Tiger Lane.

“Last year was an overwhelming success,” said Artemis “Peppa” Williams, the series organizer. “The need for peace in these communities continues to be vital. These families need a place where they can be safe and come together as a community, and I am happy to provide it for them.”

The series is sponsored by organizations and individuals throughout the city including: Shelby County Commissioners, Memphis Police Department C.O.P. (Community Outreach Program), City of Memphis – Youth Services, Shelby County Schools, Well Child, Allworld Project Management, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Workforce Investment Network, Horne & Wells, PLLC, Families Matters, Kroger, 88.5 FM, Penny Hardaway and Team Penny and iheartradio.

In 2015, Williams produced an anti-violence rally in Whitehaven during fall break. The event attracted more than 2,500 students who participated in and came to promote the community message of nonviolence, and the event had zero incidents and spread the word that local communities are banding together to show they will not tolerate violence and crime.