Memphis

Tennessee

Community Lead

Sarah Lockridge-Steckel

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at The Collective Blueprint

Get Involved

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Lead Community Organization

The Collective Blueprint

Since 2016, The Collective Blueprint has served the Memphis area youth – its mission is to ensure equitable access to support, resources and opportunities that allow young adults to thrive.

The Collective Blueprint’s Schools program provide post-secondary education coaching and its careers program provides job placement with partner companies.

Image of the Collective Blueprint's logo

Memphis Community Lead

Headshot of Sarah Lockridge-Steckel, CEO and Co-Founder at The Collective Blueprint.

Sarah Lockridge-Steckel

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at The Collective Blueprint

Sarah Lockridge-Steckel is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Collective Blueprint in Memphis, Tennessee. The Collective Blueprint strives to eliminate barriers and create new avenues towards economic self-sufficiency for the 45,000 youth out of school and work in Memphis.

History of Memphis, Tennessee

Known as the Blues City, Memphis was founded in 1819 along the Mississippi River and Black Americans have made valuable contributions from economic, political and cultural development since the city’s founding.

Beale Street in downtown Memphis became a symbol of Black promise – it is where Black entrepreneurs, such as Robert Church, earned their fortunes and Black musicians, such as B.B. King, helped create the Memphis Blues.

Despite this promise, centuries of structural and institutional racism have delayed this promise from becoming a reality.

An image of the BB King's Blues Club neon sign on the side of a building in Memphis, TN

Racial Inequities in Memphis

Black businesses only represent approximately 7% of businesses and approximately 2% of revenues
MBE Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity
To start or scale businesses, Black entrepreneurs often cite access to capital as one of their greatest challenges
Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)
Black people are about 2.6 times less likely as white people to be unemployed and half as likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher
Education/HBCU and Workforce Development
17% of black households in Memphis are without Internet access
Digital Access
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Racial Equity Priorities

Click to explore a priority in detail.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity

Access to Capital (CDFIs/MDI)

HBCU and Workforce Development

Digital Access

Community Snapshot

Explore the dashboard to view demographic stats and key racial equity metrics.

Success Stories for Memphis

Grameen America Advances Racial Equity Initiative With New Branch in Memphis to Serve Black Women Entrepreneurs

Facilitated Grameen America partnership, which disbursed $100K+ microloans to support 70+ Black women entrepreneurs in Memphis. Grameen America envisions an inclusive society in which all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, race or income, have access to fair and affordable financial services to support upward economic mobility. The organization, which has invested in more than 142,500 members since opening in 2008, recently achieved a historic milestone of investing $2 billion in microloans to minority businesswomen. 

Join Us and Get Involved!

If you are interested in partnering with Southern Communities Initiative or wish to volunteer your time, we invite you to explore the different ways you can engage.

Memphis, Tennessee

Racial Equity Priorities

HBCU and Workforce Development

Increasing Bachelors Degrees and Reducing Student Debt

In Memphis, Black people are about 2.6 times less likely as white people to be unemployed and half as likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Many of those who do graduate from HBCUs, where students are 1.4 times more likely than non-HBCU students to take out student loans and borrow 20% more on average.

Studies have found that taking on student debt can negatively affect academic performance, graduation rates and long-term wealth accumulation.

That is why it is critical to address issues in both enrollment and student loan debt, thus allowing students and graduates to access high-paying job opportunities and build their wealth.

A young African American man smiles while wearing a black graduation cap and gown.

OUR AMBITION

Standup Training Hub – $30M:

Fund* the establishment a world-class training hub that offers certificate-granting STEM and innovation programs in advanced manufacturing, health care, etc. to 10K+ youths.

Fund Student Freedom Initiative Program – $7M:

Fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus to support ~15 Black STEM students per year forever at 4 HBCUs.**

* Lead organization: The Collective Blueprint; Contributing local organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): Greater Memphis Chamber and Workforce Midsouth

** Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs with STEM programs being considered: Le Moyne-Owen, Baptist Memorial, University of Memphis, Rust College

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): 8K+ Additional College Graduates and 10K Workers With High-Paying Wages to Drive ~$1B+ in Economic Growth.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity

Creating and Scaling Black-owned Businesses

Southern Communities Initiative focuses on increasing the number and value of MBEs in the region. Southern Communities Initiative specifically aims at raising the economic weight of Black-owned businesses from 2% to 6% of the aggregated value of all businesses in the region.  

Additionally, small businesses in primarily Black communities tend to have lower profit margins and concentrate in industries with less potential for growth.

Black entrepreneurs often face many barriers, including a lack of access to capital, technical assistance, procurement opportunities and more.

Creating and scaling a greater number of Black-owned businesses is crucial to generating employment opportunities for people of color and increasing wealth in the community and economy.

A Black barber adjusts a smock on a young Black boy sitting in a barber chair.

OUR AMBITION

Offer In-Kind FTEs for Supplier Diversity:

Offer 2-5 FTEs to Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA) over 5 years to convene corporate partners, assess their MBE spend, develop pipeline to increase MBE spend to 5-10%+.

Offer Technical Assistance Expertise:

Partner with CRBA to advise/mentor ~200 MBEs on capital/loan access to help them scale from <$10M to $50M+.

Commit to Supplier Diversity:

Increase MBE spend to 5-10%+.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): 3X Increase in MBE Value and ~13K New Jobs, Boosting Black Community’s Net Worth by ~$2B+.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Digital Access

Increasing Access, Affordability and Adoption to Broadband

Digital access is vital for any community to thrive in today’s world. Southern Communities Initiative’s ambition is to increase access to high-speed internet and its affordability for underserved communities. Currently 10% of households in the Charlotte area are without Internet access.

An African American man sits beside a young Black boy while sitting at a table and doing schoolwork.

OUR AMBITION

Support Center for Digital Equity – $25M:

Secure $25M over 4 years for Center for Digital Equity’s longitudinal project on digital access to enhance health efficacy and agency in the health experience lifecycle.

Raise Community Awareness and Adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit:

Increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households.

Drive Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Adoption:

Secure $1-3M (donations or in kind) to drive door to door and community outreach in low income focus zip codes to get ~12K households onto Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) subsidies in Charlotte.

Provide Digital Access and Technical Assistance for Charlotte Households:

Provide 20K laptops, internet subs and broadband for ~35K households + grant writing support and internet adoption centers.

Support Efforts to Increase Digital Access:

Secure $2.2M for ~4K routers, switches and internet backhaul connections for ~80 bldgs.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): ~35K Households Get Connected to High-Speed Internet to Unlock ~$700M in Economic Potential for Charlotte.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

HBCU and Workforce Development

Increasing Bachelors Degrees and Reducing Student Debt

Increasing education quality and minority representation in top job positions can have a positive effect on communities. Southern Communities Initiative aims at increasing Black empowerment and representation in the workforce. In Charlotte, Southern Communities Initiative supports the Mayor’s plan to make of JCSU a top 10 university in the US. Southern Communities Initiative is also planning to help increase the percentage of Black Charlotteans owning college degrees to 59%, and improve the representation of Black/Brown in executive positions to 30%.

Many of those who do graduate from HBCUs, where students are 1.4 times more likely than non-HBCU students to take out student loans and borrow 20% more on average.

Studies have found that taking on student debt can negatively affect academic performance, graduation rates and long-term wealth accumulation.

That is why it is critical to address issues in both enrollment and student loan debt, thus allowing students and graduates to access high-paying job opportunities and build their wealth.

A young African American man smiles while wearing a black graduation cap and gown.