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Ten organizations receive Nike Black Community Commitment Grants

By Christin Yates, Special to the Daily Memphian

Updated: February 19, 2022 7:22 PM CT | Published: February 19, 2022 4:00 AM CT

As Chloe ‘Claa’ Woods performs, Heal the Hood youths (left to right,) Ebonye Jackson, Marcus ' Monsieur ' Lylesand Yazmine Lyles critique her performance during a Heal the Hood workshop at Hickory Ridge Mall on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (Ziggy Mack/Special to The Daily Memphian)

Ten Memphis area organizations have received Black Community Commitment grants totaling $600,000 as part of a multi-year pledge by Nike Inc.

One of the recipients is CodeCrew, a nonprofit tech organization that empowers youths and adults in Memphis from underrepresented communities to be tech innovators and producers through practical, hands-on computer science education and training.

Of the nearly 2,000 students CodeCrew serves weekly, 91% are Black and Hispanic youths, and 47% are females.

Kela Jones, deputy executive director of CodeCrew, said that being able to train developers who can work remotely in Memphis while earning, for example, a New York salary, means students can stay in the Bluff City and invest that money back into the community.

“These students can get the training they need and stay in Memphis where the cost of living is very economical, and they’re also making a great living wage or higher,” Jones said. “It’s moving the needle in terms of poverty.”

In CodeCrew’s adult program, after completing the CodeCrew training course, Code School graduates are being placed in computer science jobs earning, on average, $55,000.

Prior to CodeCrew training, these individuals’ annual salaries averaged $16,000.

The Memphis organizations that will share the $600,000 Black Community Commitment grant are:

  • CodeCrew

  • Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope

  • Legacy of Legends CDC

  • Black Business Association of Memphis

  • Heal the Hood Foundation

  • Vance Avenue Youth Development

  • Streets Ministries

  • The Consortium Memphis Music Town

  • 100 Black Men of Memphis

  • The Way Community Group

“Nike Inc.’s purpose is to move the world forward — breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all,” Karol Collymore, senior director of inclusive community for social and community impact at Nike Inc. said in a statement. “Our Black Community Commitment embodies this belief and drives how we are showing up to advance racial equality for Black people.”

Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope, one of the ten nonprofit groups that received Nike grants, hosted a prayer vigil on Friday, April 2, 2021, at "I Am A Man" Plaza. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Ernest Strickland, president and CEO of the Black Business Association of Memphis, said the Nike grant is especially important now in light of the “Great Resignation.”

“What that means for Memphis is there are a number of Black employees that have decided to take their talents private in the form of entrepreneurship, and they’re looking for organizations like the BBA to, at a minimum, point them in the right direction and provide them with strategic guidance,” Strickland said.

The BBA strives to improve the economic well-being of the Memphis region by developing successful entrepreneurs and women- and minority-owned business enterprises through education, advocacy and business development.

Strickland said that the BBA is fortunate to receive support from the Memphis City Council and Mayor Jim Strickland, and that support has allowed the organization to focus on small, micro-businesses in the community.

“When you marry that support with the Nike grant, we’re able to provide more of those one-on-one, customized solutions that many companies in the early stages need,” he said.

Heal the Hood CEO LaDell Beamon leads acting/performer workshop with students (left to right,) Ebonye Jackson, Chloe ' Claa ' Woods, and Marcus ' Monsieur ' Lyles at Hickory Ridge Mall on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (Ziggy Mack/Special to The Daily Memphian)

Another local organization receiving one of the grants is Heal the Hood Foundation, a nonprofit organization that uses creative methods of the arts and media science to enact community change.

Since 2005, Heal the Hood has reached more than 480,000 students through its programming, said LaDell Beamon, CEO and founder of the Heal the Hood Foundation of Memphis.

“It (the grant) is a huge adrenaline boost to our organization because when we’ve reached all those students and kids throughout the years, we’ve done it with very little funding,” Beamon said.

“If we can do what we’ve done with little to nothing, that money that will be coming in our pockets will allow us to do far beyond what we’ve been able to do so far,” Beamon said. “We’re going to make Nike proud.”

Check out the Daily Memphian article here


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