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Campaign launched to support public school children

OURCHILDREN-160Our Children. Our Success., a new campaign created to bolster community support for public school children, kicked off across Memphis and Shelby County this week.

Led by a coalition of community partners, the campaign was launched to encourage the entire community to participate and invest in the lives, education and general wellbeing of our children.

"RISE, through its programs, has always served as a connector between parents, the community and the schools," says Linda Williams, president/CEO of the RISE Foundation, a campaign community partner. "The Our Children. Our Success. campaign is another way that we can support families with real time-information that's critical to the academic success of children this coming school year."

The growing list of community partners includes the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis; Church Health Center; Latino Memphis; Literacy Mid-South; New Direction Christian Church; and Urban Youth Initiative.

Core messages of the Our Children. Our Success. campaign include accountability for the community's children; supporting teachers and students to ensure quality education; reimagining the approach to teaching and learning; utilizing transparency to foster mutual trust; and building a positive, shared belief that every child can succeed.

The campaign features a series of billboards throughout the city and county, public service announcements airing on local radio stations, and open forums to discuss ways in which the community can support its children.

"The Urban Youth Initiative and our network of partner ministries look forward to continuing our support of public education, as we have for the last 19 years," said Cheryl Beard of Urban Youth Initiative, a campaign community partner. "There's nothing more important to our future and the sustainability of this community than ensuring the successful development of our young ones. Receiving a high quality education is paramount to their success, and all of us must collectively engage in this common goal."

Beard is among the representatives from partner organizations who are serving as campaign spokespersons, lending their voices to radio PSAs emphasizing shared ownership of public education and articulating how their respective organizations support the community's children.

Additionally, partner organizations' logos can be seen on Our Children, Our Success. campaign billboards across the city and county and the organizations plan to host a series of community forums at the local Boys & Girls Clubs.

"The top priority of the Boys & Girls Club is education advancement," says Vincent Borello, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. "Our Children. Our Success. is essential so that children and parents know what the county school program will look like for the students."

Also part of the campaign, a "Back-to-School Weekend" is planned for August 3-4, 2013. Faith-based organizations throughout Memphis and Shelby County will be asked to pray for students and encourage their congregations to support children through activities such as tutoring and mentoring.

The campaign is privately funded through SchoolSeed, formerly known as the MCS Foundation, an independent nonprofit that works with the community to support efforts that positively impact teachers and students.

SchoolSeed is the independent fiscal agent of the $90 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support teacher effectiveness. SchoolSeed is also responsible for raising $20 million in local matching funds to support work in the public school system.

Partners involved in Our Children. Our Success. agree that a community without a strong school system won't attract quality workers, that an undereducated workforce is a major roadblock to a flourishing Shelby County, and that everyone benefits when the entire community invests in education.

"Providing a quality education is the first step to ensuring that our children become well-rounded citizens who can compete in a global economy and in turn give back to the Shelby County community," said William Mitchell of Crye-Leike Realtors, who serves as board chairman of SchoolSeed. "I support the Our Children. Our Success. Campaign because their success is the paramount return, and everyone will benefit from that investment."

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