Memphis Talent Dividend – College Attainment Initiative
Research from Chicago-based CEOs for Cities indicates that 58 percent of a city’s success, as measured by per capita income, can be attributed to the percentage of the adult population with a college degree. Memphis currently ranks 48th out of the 51 largest metropolitan areas with regard to the percentage of the population with a college degree. Recognizing the need and opportunity, Leadership Memphis launched the Memphis Talent Dividend: College Attainment Initiative (MTD) to increase the number of college graduates by one percentage point - from 23.7% to 24.7% - over the next five years, resulting in a $1 Billion economic impact for our community. MTD is a collaboration of more than 100 stakeholders in the eight-county Memphis metro area working together on this single mission. The creation of the MTD also allows Memphis to compete with over 50 U.S. cities for the CEOs for Cities Talent Dividend Prize - $1 million to the metropolitan area that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of post-secondary degrees granted per capita over a three-year period. For more information visit www.memphistalentdividend.com.
Imagine Memphis unites youth and adults - shaping the future of Memphis with positive community action
OVERVIEW AND PRINCIPLES
What is Imagine Memphis?
Dr. Mary Jo Greil, founder, was tired of Memphis being at the bottom of many lists and surveys, so she created a community initiative that focused on what was good about the city – she created Imagine Memphis. Imagine Memphis (IM) is a process that engages participants in a range of creative, positive and constructive discussions about their communities. Inspired by the successful Imagine Chicago model, Imagine Memphis uses a similar approach by involving local high school aged youth interviewing adults -- community influencer's, and business owners with questions that will heighten the strengths and values of the city of Memphis. Likewise, the adults then interview the youth.
Launched in the fall of 2007, IM was formed to assist Memphis in becoming a city of choice by actively tapping into our sustainable talent (i.e., human capital) for generations to come. With the core institutional support of Leadership Memphis, BRIDGES, Methodist Healthcare, and Christian Brothers University and the support of numerous strategic community partners, IM has involved over 600 youth and 300 adult participants in the three-phase aspirational process. Today, Imagine Memphis is an action initiative of Leadership Memphis and the goal for 2011-2012 is to involve 300 youth and 300 adults in the IM process.
What is the Process?
Imagine Memphis is a three-step process that emphasizes strengths and helps participants imagine the Memphis they desire – and the role they can define for making a difference.
Step One: Discovery Interviews
During the first step, youth and adults are paired together. They interview each other using a carefully developed interview protocol. Questions are designed to draw out positive responses using a technique called appreciative inquiry. The interview phase not only allows a young person to learn from an adult – but the adults also learn much from the youth. And truth be told, the adults and youth both learn a lot about themselves.
Four categories of questions are asked:
1. High point (Discovery)
3. Wishes (Dream)
4. Next steps (Design)
Step Two: Making Meaning
Once the interviews are completed, youth and adults are placed into small groups of 6-10 people. The group is asked to “make meaning” of the interviews in which they participated. The group is also charged with managing this step by assigning a facilitator, a recorder and a time-keeper. Adults usually allow youth to take on these leadership roles. Group participants are asked to identify what things jumped out at them from their respective interviews. Once the participants have each had the opportunity to respond, they begin to identify themes, such as what commonalities did youth and adults share, and where were the differences. Amazingly, youth and adults have much more in common than they would have expected. They also identify significant positive assets the community has on which to build and make a difference. Participants prioritize the work of the group in a way that allows the realizations developed during Step Two to then lead to Step Three.
Step Three: Aspirations and Actions
Depending on the size of the full group participating, anywhere from 3-6 priority themes are identified. Participants are asked to select one theme – and everyone who selects the same theme becomes yet another group for the final task. This new group also selects a facilitator, recorder and time-keeper. Their task is to develop an aspirational statement around that theme – a statement that will contribute to the concept of imagining the Memphis they want, as well as the Memphis they are willing to work to have. As such, each participant is asked to specify one action step they will take to make their aspirational statement a reality.
What does Imagine Memphis accomplish?
The active involvement of youth gives them the first-hand experience with personal histories and insights of Memphis, enhances their communication skills, and invites them to take an active role in shaping the future of their community. They develop a deeper appreciation for what adults know and can provide to make young people’s lives more purposeful.
For youth the expectation is that they will focus on achieving their education goals and being a quality citizen for Memphis – living up to their Imagine Memphis action commitment.
Adults learn that the youth they read about and hear about are not the same youth they just had a conversation with. They realize that there are caring, smart and interesting young people worth knowing and worth supporting. In just a few hours they have helped one or more young people increase their knowledge and appreciation of another person and of Memphis.
For adults the expectation is that they will recognize the importance of youth in our community development and how they can impact the life of a young person – informally, or formally as a mentor. For more information visit the Imagine Memphis website.