Community Foundation reaches Beyond the Classroom to serve Mid-South students

September 13th, 2016

MEMPHIS, TN (Sept. 13, 2106) —The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis today announced the launch of Beyond the Classroom, an unprecedented investment in high-quality afterschool and summer programs that enhance and sustain academic gains for Memphis children. Grant dollars from the foundation’s Community Partnership Fund will support the initiative.

“In 2015, the Community Foundation’s grant committee underwent a comprehensive evaluation of its grantmaking to determine where our dollars could have the most meaningful impact,” says Community Foundation of Greater Memphis President Robert Fockler. “As we did so, we encountered a wealth of data that proves that meaningful out-of-school time programs are vital but often inaccessible for children and adolescents.

“Although a lot of money is being invested in K-12 education in the classroom, we realized that comparatively little investment was being made in out-of-school programs to sustain and extend achievement earned in the classroom. It became clear that this would be the most important and useful way to focus our resources. Beyond the Classroom is a strategy to strengthen organizations that are already doing great work in this challenging area.”

The Community Foundation’s grant committee spent nearly a year researching and developing the Beyond the Classroom pilot program. The Foundation is partnering with Seeding Success, which provides backbone support to enhance the alignment and effectiveness of youth-serving organizations, helping build organizational capacity and measurably improve student outcomes. 

In this pilot year, Seeding Success is developing curricula and training that will strengthen five local nonprofits: Latino Memphis, Porter-Leath, Literacy Mid-South, Communities in Schools, and Knowledge Quest.

“Our intention is to partner with nonprofits that demonstrate outstanding leadership and vision, and represent Memphis’s true diversity. These nonprofits are diverse not only in their size and specific missions, but in the demographics and ages of the students they serve,” says Fockler.

Each of these organizations is working with Seeding Success on different, specific outcomes like kindergarten readiness, college placement, and reducing chronic absenteeism. Together, they create a pre-K-through-12th grade pipeline of support for students. In total, the organizations supported by Beyond the Classroom will reach approximately 15,000 Memphis-area youth.

“Throughout 2016 and 2017, we will be evaluating the program and making decisions as to how to improve it for long-term. Through our investment in Beyond the Classroom, we want to align these five nonprofits around a common set of measurable, and hopefully scalable, outcomes. If we know what works and what doesn’t, we can extend our impact even farther,” says Fockler. “We look forward to sharing the results of this investment with the people who have made it possible – our broad community of donors from throughout the Memphis region.”


Seeding Success and the Community Foundation have selected five diverse partners for this capacity building investment, which serve approximately 15,000 students annually. These partners vary in terms of type of services, age of clients, service clientele demographics, and size. Each partner, however, upon preliminary analysis falls into the emerging category and is positioned to develop systems change competencies within a year of intervention.

  • Porter-Leath provides both in and out-of-school time services to approximately 4,500 children. It is a critical partner working to enhance school preparedness and early literacy proficiency in Shelby County. Through this investment, Porter-Leath will able to continue progress as a data-informed organization, to continuously improve outcomes for children and families.
  • Literacy Mid-South provides intermediary services for the Seeding Success Summer Learning Project, which leverages existing summer programs to serve approximately 3,000 students PK-5 over the summer. Summer learning is a critical barrier to sustained learning gains for the most at-risk students in Shelby County. By enhancing the capabilities of Literacy Mid-South, Seeding Success can indirectly support the effectiveness of additional partners. This example will also provide a proof point for intervening with non-direct service organizations across Shelby County.
  • Knowledge Quest acts a neighborhood hub of services for youth and families in South Memphis, serving approximately 200 students. It is a critical partner in terms of linking aligned strategies between schools and the community. Knowledge Quest has already taken incredible strides as a Seeding Success partner to develop internal processes for improvement, and will benefit from on-going deep dive supports.
  • Communities in Schools is one of the single largest providers of K-12 in and out-of-school time services in Shelby County, providing wrap-around and intervention services to approximately 7,500 students beginning in 2016. A direct investment in Communities in Schools’ capabilities should result in a significant impact, quickly, for a large population of Shelby County’s most at-risk students. It is also the convener of the Seeding Success College and Career Readiness Network, which will pilot the Social Emotional Learning interventions and Assessments as a part of this program.
  • Latino Memphis has provided services to Latino high school students for the past several years, helping them prepare for and persist into postsecondary opportunities. As one of a few services providers directly supporting English as a Second Language students, Latino Memphis, which annually serves approximately 300 students, will provide validity that these skills are applicable across youth-serving organizations regardless of the challenges (perceived or real) facing the demographic served. 

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