Giving truth to Memphis youth
By Deidra Shores
Cordova High School
Although mayors are expected to enhance a city all on their own, sometimes they need help.
The Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team is a group funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and dedicated to helping the city’s mayor generate innovative solutions to high priority problems and deliver results.
Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Teams are located in several cities around the country including Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, Louisville and in Memphis.
Two representatives from the organization, Abby Miller and Kerri Campbell, came to the University of Memphis to speak to a group of high school students on Aug. 1 and inform them about the work they are doing in the city.
The team has two major branches where they make efforts to deliver results. The first branch is to reduce youth handgun violence, and the second is to increase neighborhood economic vitality.
Campbell—a graduate of Central High, Rhodes College, and Michigan State law school—heads the division for reducing youth handgun violence. Campbell says that in the city of Memphis, despite news coverage and popular belief, crime is actually going down. However she also says that youth crimes are going up.
The majority of youth crime victims are African American males between the ages of 13 and 24. Some of the common factors that seem to catapult those youth into crime are poverty, lack of jobs and education, and easy access to handguns and weapons.
The Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team has five prongs that are intended to reach the youth and decrease crime among youth. The five prongs are suppression, community mobilization, youth opportunities, intervention and organized change and development.
“The only time you interact with the police shouldn’t be when they come to arrest you,” Campbell said.
To keep that from being a reality for the youth of Memphis, they have created Community Outreach Program, C.O.P for short. In this program, police officers are out in the community being hands on with the youth. They could simply be stopping by a group of young people and asking them about their day, or playing basketball in the park with kids.
Miller—a graduate of Boston University and New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service—heads the division whose goal is to create safe and vibrant neighborhoods. She says that in order to do that, the community must take action themselves to ensure they have the environment they want. Along with the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, Miller says Memphis neighborhoods must clean, activate and sustain it.
The team also conducts pop up shops. These are moving shops that pop up at vacant or under utilized areas. These are also great ways to test new markets and business concepts.
Both Miller and Campbell believe that the responsibility to sustain a community shouldn’t be on just one party.
For more information on The Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team and their programs, you can email Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (901) 515-7742.