Kresge Innovative Projects: Memphis grantee-provided photos courtesy of Carpenter Art Garden, Soulsville Foundation, Heights Community Development Corporation, OUTMemphis, Communities Unlimited, Explore Bike Share, Knowledge Quest, Let’s Innovate Through Education Memphis, Whole Child Strategies, Inc., Historic Clayborn Temple, and BRIDGES USA.  

The Kresge Foundation today announced that it has awarded grants totaling $2 million to 20 community-based organizations throughout Memphis to support resident-driven projects through its Kresge Innovative Projects: Memphis initiative (KIP:M).

Inspired by Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit, which since 2015 has supported 99 projects and awarded over $9.2 million in Kresge’s hometown, KIP:M will provide planning and implementation funding for projects that reflect the vision and creativity of Memphians.

“These projects are poised to make visible and long-lasting transformations throughout Memphis while catalyzing civic renewal,” said Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson. “The KIP:M initiative reflects Kresge’s belief that in Memphis – as in Detroit and across the nation –resident-led projects improve lives, foster community and spur revitalization.”

KIP:M grantee organizations of all sizes have already led highly impactful initiatives throughout Memphis neighborhoods. KIP:M funding will help these organizations undertake resident-driven projects aimed at strengthening Memphis neighborhoods including blight reduction and public space improvements, increased access to transportation, community narrative-shaping, creative placemaking, youth engagement, and workforce development.

“Community-based organizations throughout Memphis are brimming with passion, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to enhancing the day-to-day experiences within their neighborhoods,” said Chantel Rush, senior program officer with Kresge’s American Cities Program. “We’re eager to witness these projects evolve from well-crafted aspirations to resident-driven manifestations that transform today’s Memphis into the neighborhoods Memphians deserve tomorrow.”

Today’s annoucement builds on Kresge’s ongoing committment to strengthen Memphis and its neighborhoods. Since 2013, the Kresge Foundation has provided more than $23 million in grants and social investments to organizations that serve Memphis.

Included among today’s awardees are several creative placemaking projects which aim to uplift the voices of Memphians while engaging residents of all ages in shaping the future of their neighborhoods. The Blues City Cultural Center will use KIP:M project funding to support its “STORIED PLACES” initiative, which seeks to help local youth shape the narrative of their Orange Mound and Whitehaven neighborhoods and view themselves as community stewards.

Other projects will foster increased economic mobility. JUICE Orange Mound will launch a small business incubation space in the historic, African American neighborhood of Orange Mound. Similarly, Communities Unlimited will partner with the Frayser Community Development Corporation to expand its pop-up business incubator program in the city’s Frayser neighborhood.

Several projects will transform public spaces and repurpose unused structures. Heights Community Development Corporation will undertake a series of creative placemaking projects to create safe and attractive public spaces in the Highland Heights, Mitchell Heights, Brinkley Heights and Graham Heights neighborhoods. Vollintine Evergreen Community Association will reactivate a commercial building as a community hub and undertake several streetscape improvements to increase walkability.

The KIP:M grantmaking initiative is led by Kresge’s American Cities program and is shaped by invaluable support from the foundation’s Arts & Culture, Health and Human Services programs, as well as Kresge’s Program Operations and Information Management team.

The CLTV (The Collective), Inc. one of the KIP:M grantees, will host the KIP:M kickoff meeting and grantee celebration at their CMPLX next week.

KIP:M Grantees and Projects

Blues City Cultural Center will receive project support to build upon “STORIED PLACES”, a resident-led initiative that builds neighborhood connectivity by providing opportunities for youth to shape the narrative of their neighborhoods and view themselves as stewards in the future of the community.

BRIDGES USA will receive project support for its Youth Action Center, the first physical space in Memphis solely dedicated to amplifying youth leaders’ impact across social sectors.

Carpenter Art Garden will receive project planning and implementation support to turn a vacant lot into a neighborhood art park and community space to increase education and employment potential for Binghampton youth.

Communities Unlimited will receive project support to partner with Frayser Community Development Corporation and utilize a resident engagement strategy to launch and grow locally-owned and -operated small businesses in the Frayser neighborhood.

Explore Bike Share will receive project support to pilot a neighborhood-centric approach to bike sharing access, adoption and integration in the community of Binghampton, in collaboration with Binghampton Development Corporation, Carpenter Art Garden, and the City of Memphis.

Hattiloo Theatre will receive project support to strengthen Memphis’ Black artist community by establishing a cooperatively developed and produced performing arts festival.

Heights Community Development Corporation will receive planning and implementation support to undertake a series of creative placemaking projects that will create safe and attractive public spaces in the Highland Heights, Mitchell Heights, Brinkley Heights and Graham Heights neighborhoods, including maintaining transportation infrastructure, expanding options for outdoor play and recreation, and commissioning temporary and permanent public art projects.

Historic Clayborn Temple will receive project support to implement “The Welcome Table,” an initiative that is designed to bring together community members to capture their stories, amplify their voices and restore hope through the production of a documentary film that will serve as a tool for community advocacy.

Hospitality Hub of Memphis will receive project support to create a safe and secure place in the Memphis Medical District for people experiencing homelessness to rest during the day. The plaza will feature resting spaces and gardens adjacent to Hospitality Hub’s new intake facility, a 32-bed women’s shelter.

JUICE Orange Mound will receive project support to launch a small business incubation space in the historic, African American neighborhood of Orange Mound.

Knowledge Quest will receive implementation support to expand and maintain a learning farm, a new commercial greenhouse, and an outdoor classroom in line with their Agritourism Masterplan.

Let’s Innovate through Education Memphis will receive project support to provide 50 high school students of color with entrepreneurship training, internship pairing and/or business venture launch support.

Memphis Filmworks, Inc. will receive project support to create “Our Neighbors,” a documentary film series that captures the stories of residents from nine Memphis neighborhoods, to serve as a community advocacy tool that uplifts resident concerns and ideas about the development of their neighborhoods.

Memphis Slim Collaboratory, Inc will receive project support to increase access to the arts in the Soulsville neighborhood by creating an outdoor performance space and completing additional renovations to their building.

OUTMemphis: The LGBTQ Center for the Mid-South will receive project support to create a social enterprise event space that hosts public programming for the LGBTQ+ community at large.

Soulsville Foundation will receive planning and implementation support to create a facilities and safety plan for the Soulsville USA Campus. The Soulsville USA campus is home to the historic Stax Museum, the tuition-free public Soulsville Charter School,, and Stax Music Academy.

The Collective (CLTV), Inc. will receive project support to develop community homes which will serve as resource centers and convening spaces for current Orange Mound residents, studio and living spaces for Black artists, and places to create collaborative projects to uplift the community.

The Works, Inc. will receive project support for the installation of traffic calming infrastructure and improvements along Walker Avenue that will increase safety and help foster a more vibrant community in South Memphis.

Vollintine Evergreen Community Association will receive project support to redevelop an abandoned commercial building to serve as a community hub, and to complete associated streetscape improvements.

Whole Child Strategies, Inc. will receive project support to undertake a series of projects identified by community members to improve educational attainment in the Klondike/Smokey City neighborhood.

More than 10 Memphis-based organizations submitted compelling project proposals during the application period, which commenced in April. The organizations below were also recognized by Kresge as KIP:M finalists.

Clean Memphis