Reading Foundations for Future Opportunities

Lisa Jones teaching to a classroom of students at Promise Academy — Hollywood.
Lisa Jones teaching to a classroom of students at Promise Academy — Hollywood.

Since our founding in 2017, ALLMemphis has worked toward a clear vision of full literacy to advance the social, cultural, and economic development of our city. Our mission – ensuring educational equity by equipping schools with a data-driven, research-based language and literacy approach – hasn’t changed, but, as we’ve grown, we’ve been exploring new ways to accomplish it. As an organization, we have stepped up our advocacy role to add our support to policies, causes, and movements that affect Memphis students and their families. Through our work in this area, we’ve been collaborating with other advocacy organizations to bring local education issues to the forefront and create change. 

ALLMemphis has always believed that parents are integral partners in our mission, so we jumped at the chance to team up with Memphis Lift, a powerful movement by and for parents who are making their voices heard and advocating for their children’s access to excellent schools. Last November, we spoke with Memphis Lift parents about the lack of funding for education in Memphis and shared our resources for at-home learning and reading practice. We also handed out some of our decodable readers for parents who expressed interest. More recently, Meili Powell and Haley Mathews appeared on two episodes of Memphis Lift’s “Five Elements of Reading” Friday’s Focus series to talk about phonics and comprehension

The Memphis Lift Facebook Event
The Memphis Lift hosted a Facebook event featuring ALLMemphis.

Along with helping to empower parents, we’ve been active in harnessing community support for increased education funding. ALLMemphis has been working closely with Stand for Children Tennessee to draft language and advocate for the YES (Youth Education Success) Fund, an innovative way to leverage coordinated funding support from the county, city and philanthropic community to fill education budget gaps and use targeted investments to improve literacy instruction and support, promote ninth-grade success, and expand effective college and career preparation. To date, ALLMemphis has participated in 17 meetings with elected officials on the Memphis City Council, Shelby County Commission, and SCS School Board to advocate for the YES Fund. Meili and Haley were also featured on Stand’s weekly series, Cardell’s Soapbox, to discuss the collective effort and gather community support. 

As we continue to join forces with other community organizations to dramatically improve education opportunities and outcomes for students in Memphis and Shelby County, we are simultaneously developing new software that will enable us to share our signature foundational reading curriculum with more schools and families in Greater Memphis and beyond. Just like our in-school instruction, our new software is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction and will help teachers, literacy coaches, tutors, and parents customize lessons to address a student’s specific learning needs. Launching soon, the software will be a valuable new tool in our quest to make the fundamentals of reading accessible to ALL children. We’re excited about this new chapter in our story and its potential to make our aspirational vision a solid reality.