Ways to Create Economic Opportunity for Young Memphians (and a quick survey)!

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What a weekend at Urban Summit 2019!

Thank you so much for making this year's Summit on economic justice and inclusion for young adults amazing. We had 438 people attend, 27 vendors and through our partnership with Epicenter, have leveraged $12,475 in 0% loans.

Take this quick survey to help us plan for next year! 
If you bought a ticket (or received a sponsor ticket) for this year’s summit, make sure you take this survey (even if you didn't get to come) because it will go a long way in helping us make sure the Urban Summit is as effective as possible each year. It takes 5 minutes (or less!)


We hope you were challenged and encouraged like we were, but most of all we hope you'll join us in taking what we learned and putting it into action. To that end, we wanted to remind you of 6 ways we can create a more just and inclusive economy for all our city's young adults. To commit to get involved in this work, fill out our Get Involved form!  


1. Become an Ally for Young Adults
We heard it over and over again . . . young adults need empathetic, affirming people in their lives who will listen to their dreams and partner with them in pursuing them. And numerous organizations in our city are constantly recruiting volunteers to serve as young adults, organizations like The Collective, Advance Memphis, HopeWorks, Su Casa, World Relief, Agape, STREETS, and Memphis Athletic Ministries. As one member of our young adult panel put it: "All of you have time, even if it's just an hour. . . There need to be people investing their time in teaching young adults 'There are opportunities for you.'" 


2. Advocate for Young Adults in Workplaces Where You Have Influence
Friday night, Chad Pulliam, a Manager at Bryce Corporation, said: "I'm ashamed to say there were times at our company we threw peoples' resumes away because they had a felony record. Not anymore." But Chad and Bryce Corp didn't just stop throwing resumes away; they proactively hired people with criminal records through a partnership with Economic Opportunities. And you can advocate for companies you influence to partner with non-profit organizations like Economic Opportunities, The Collective, Advance Memphis, HopeWorks, Agape, and World Relief that support young adults who face unique barriers to employment. Moreover, as Dr. Stacy Spencer reminded us Friday night, in God's economy, workers' wages should be sufficient to enable them to provide for the necessities of life. Consider evaluating the policies at workplaces you influence through the lens of how they affect workers, and particularly young adults. 

3. Support Minority-Owned Businesses and Social Enterprises as a Customer and an Investor
This past weekend, you got to meet minority-owned businesses and social entrepreneurs in our Summit Market, hear them pitch their ideas in our Pitch Showcase, and eat food prepared by an incredible group of caterers through Kaleidoscope Kitchen and through Apostle Ricky Floyd's Husband Institute Food Truck. Entrepreneurship is one strategy for building social mobility in our society. Give of your "time, talent, and treasure" to organizations that work with entrepreneurs like Epicenter, LITE, Memphis Medical District Collaborative, and Advance Memphis. Purchase products and services from their graduates. Consider investing in their businesses. 

In particular, consider investing as little as $25 towards a 0% loan for one of our three Pitch Presenters who're still crowdfunding their Kiva loans:

Antoine, The Triumph Jewelry Collection
Sherika, Sherika Fitness  


4. Lobby for Better Systems for Young Adults
Most of us don't love politics, but the truth is there are policies that negatively affect our young adults, especially in areas of education, criminal justice, and immigration. Do some research on policy issues and find ways to advocate for change through organizations like MICAH, Latino Memphis, Just City, Memphis Christian Pastors Network, and The Immigration Project

5. Get Involved with Adult Education
Organizations like Tech901, TCAT, Code Crew, and more are creating opportunities for adults to get the education they need to attain career-track jobs. Find out about these opportunities, promote them to young adults in your church and community, and walk with them through the process of enrolling and graduating from their programs.


6. Last But Not Least: Look for Ways to Listen to Young Adults
One of the best parts of the Summit was hearing young adults describe the problems they face on video and in our young adult panel, and then hear them pitch their "big ideas" in the Big Idea competition. For many of us, hearing these voices may be the most impactful aspect of the Summit. But each of us has opportunities every day to engage young adults and their ideas in our own lives. 

The Jewish and Christian scriptures envision a just and inclusive economy in which everyone sits under their own vine and fig tree and "none shall make them afraid." That's not the kind of economy our young adults experience today, but it is the kind of economy that we can create if we're willing to "gauge our giving," as Dr. Fisher reminded us, and bend our work, investments, spending, time, talent, compensation, and giving towards an every vine and fig tree economy for every young adult. It starts today. It starts with us. 

Michael Rhodes, Sarah Lockridge-Steckel, Vonesha Mitchell, Michael Phillips, and Larry Lloyd

Urban Summit