Community Foundation announces $150,000 grant program honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 18th, 2018

As our community continues to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis announces the MLK50: The Next Step Forward grant program.

The Community Foundation will fund organizations building on Dr. King’s platform to create real and systemic change, focused on six pillars: Poverty, Better Jobs – Higher Wages, Decent Housing, Quality Education, Justice, and Peace. The foundation will award one $25,000 grant in each of these six categories to agencies that are working in those areas to change the path forward for Mid-Southerners.

“For every exciting, new development in Memphis, there is a statistic that shows us there is more we must do to build our city,” says Robert M. Fockler, president of the Community Foundation. “We encourage local nonprofits to demonstrate the potential for breakthrough and system-wide change. With this grant round, we want to see our community move forward in a way that reflects the social justice work in which Dr. King was so tirelessly engaged.”

Organizations operating in the Memphis area that have had their 501(c)3 status for at least three years, have a current strategic plan, and have a profile are invited to apply. Pre-application information sessions are mandatory and will be held throughout May and June. Grant applications are due August 1, 2018, and will be awarded in September 2018. Full grant details are available here

Additional MLK50 support activities

The Community Foundation itself was born out of the city’s fallout from the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and Dr. King’s death in 1968. In the months following the assassination, a group of civic and business leaders resolved to create a community foundation, believing that encouraging charitable investment in Memphis was the best way to secure the future of the city. What is now the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis was chartered in 1969.

Nearly fifty years after the seeds of this foundation were sown, the foundation is proud to have made investments in organizations and initiatives that marked the anniversary by exploring Memphis’s troubled past while also building a more equitable future for our community. In addition to launching the MLK50: The Next Step Forward grant program, the foundation’s involvement includes:

Managing charitable funds

  • On behalf of the City of Memphis, host the MLK50: I Am A Man Fund, which raised private dollars to support the city’s numerous events marking the anniversary. These efforts included significant grantmaking and the installation of the I AM A MAN Plaza and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Reflection Site downtown. Learn more at
  • Manage the Remembering George Riley at MLK50 Fund, a memorial fund supporting special MLK50 activities and arts programming. Learn more here

  • Manage the Martin’s Hope Fund, which supports a commemorative video project.

Awarding grants

  • Funded the development of the National Civil Rights Museum’s website for the anniversary commemoration. Visit that site at
  • Provided seed funding for 1,300 Men: Memphis Strike ‘68, a web series about the lives of the striking sanitation workers. Learn more at
  • Awarded funding for the MLK50: Justice Through Journalism reporting project. Learn more at

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