Member Spotlight: Memphis Music Initiative

For the month of November, GIA’s photo banner features work supported by Memphis Music Initiative (MMI).

MMI invests in youth development through transformative music engagement, creating equitable opportunities for black and brown youth in Memphis. The initiative invest in two ways: through direct programs that connect youth to high quality in-school, after-school and summertime opportunities, and by providing funding and resources to sustain and grow organizations working with young people.

Operating within the unique context of Memphis, Tennessee, the city’s history of racial oppression and exclusion shape MMI’s work, mission, vision, and values. Many barriers, including the socioeconomic climate, limit access and undermine youth achievement, even in the music and arts sectors.

As an organization based in the racialized south, the inherent mores of the region’s history play out in Memphis on a daily basis. MMI’s programming and grantmaking reacts, responds, and seeks to spur innovation in music through an approach that supports the entrepreneurial spirit of the schools, students, musicians, and supported youth serving nonprofits.

Since its inception, MMI has:

  • Employed over 45 youth annually, totaling well over 21,000 hours of paid summer work experience and professional development.
  • Invested over $1 million to 20 music engagement nonprofits impacting well over 1,500 youth annually.
  • Paired professional musicians with more than 45 Memphis schools, impacting more than 4,000 students.

Whether it’s musicians, neighborhood leaders, youth or teachers, MMI’s work does not exist in a vacuum. The team is led largely by leaders of color and MMI intentionally empowers and creates pathways for other local leaders of color to have voice in its local music and arts landscape. The organization recognizes and encourage leaders of color to build relationships and foster partnerships to support and encourage one another in the work for the greater good.

You can read here a recent study of their work clicking here.

Memphis Music Initiative joined Grantmakers in the Arts in 2017.

You can also visit the Memphis Music Initiative photo gallery on GIA’s Photo Credits page.

Image: David Roseberry
Memphis Music Initiative grantee PRIZM Ensemble performance.