Step ahead on 24They’re traveling on different roads, but this year’s Step Ahead Scholarship winners are all on the road to a brighter future.

The Step Ahead Scholarship is a collaborative effort of A Step Ahead Foundation and Girls Inc. of Memphis. BankTennessee manages the program. A total of $100,000 is awarded each year.

The award is a post-secondary scholarship program for young women committed to making a positive impact on the Memphis area by encouraging academic success and effective life planning.

These 27 young women were presented with their scholarship awards during a presentation ceremony on Tuesday, June 7 in the Hughes Pavilion at Dixon Gallery & Gardens, 4339 Park Ave. Click either or both of the images here to watch news clips from ABC 24 and News Channel 3. Step ahead WREG copy

Here are the 2016-2017 Step Ahead Scolars along with their chosen schools and planned courses of study:

Jelishia Abston - Concord Career College, Nursing

Hannah Bowers - East Tennessee State University, Quillen College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine

Dekitra Durant - University of Memphis, Social Work

Terrika Fultz - Bethel University, Masters of Business

Terriney Gipson - East Tennessee State University, Psychology

Jameka Hayes - University of Memphis, Biomedical Engineer

Yakeima Holliman - LeMoyne-Owen College, Social Work

Maya Jackson - Vanderbilt University, Nursing

Tyra Jackson - University of Memphis, Nursing & Journalism

Tatiana Johnson - Mid-South Community College, Nursing

Elizabeth Jones - University of Memphis,Nursing

Jasmine Leavy - Spelman College,Biology/Pre-Med

Asha Lester - University of Memphis, Criminology

Cymon Miller - Ashford University, Behavioral Science

Jasmine Murphy - University of Memphis, Business Management

Maxine Nero - Lipscomb University, Nursing

Briana Palmer - Spelman College, Biology/Pre-Med

Hannah Piecuch - Agnes Scott College, Education / Women’s Studies

Sha'neria Sanders - LeMoyne-Owen College, Biology

Whitney Snow - University of Memphis- Cecil C Humphreys School of Law, Law

Danielle Williams - University of Memphis, Teaching All Learners

Megan Williams - University of Memphis, Nursing

RuQaiyah Williams - University of Memphis, Education

Tierney Wilks - University of Memphis, Nursing and Business

Brianna Willis - Murray State University, History/Gender and Diversity Studies

Christin Wooten - Southwest Tennessee Community College, Nursing

Courtney Wright - Union University, Social Work/Psychology

The scholarship recipients, all from Shelby County and ranging in ages from 17 to 27, were chosen based on strength of application and estimated financial need. Each award is a one-time, annual scholarship—but recipients are encouraged to maintain good academic status and reapply each year as needed. Award amounts vary between $2,000 and $10,000.

Preference was given to applicants who intend to use their education to help the greater Memphis community, and who have the desire to lower rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in the greater Memphis area.

Miles TamboliOur very own Youth Farm manager, Miles Tamboli, is the feature of a recent Q & A on The Dean's List, a local blog that's part of the Make Memphis website. 

Here's a snippet from the introduction - "Miles is an obvious choice for The Dean’s List.  In conversation, he transitions easily from conversations ranging from health inequality to the importance of honeybees in food production to the twelve hens and a rooster he keeps in his backyard.  He views his urban farming program as a new norm in fighting for justice, one that tackles blight, unemployment, and women’s equality.  Miles is an important part of the future landscape for nonprofit entrepreneurship in Memphis, and his unique vision for tackling important issues in Memphis sets him apart."

We couldn't agree more! Read the whole post here - and while you're there check out more profiles by Kevin Dean and all the great work being chronicled on the Make Memphis site.

CL16 Girls with Kontji

Thanks again and again for making last week's Celebration Luncheon a real success and a real celebration! We still can't get over how much fun we had. Of course, with friends like you, the day was destined to go down in history!

Roughly 600 people joined us at the Pipkin Building to eat, share, laugh and mark our 70th year of service to girls in Memphis and the Mid-South. We honored three strong, smart and bold role models and lots of exceptional girls and young women.

And YOU honored us--you stepped up as champions for girls by raising $24,200 for STEM programming during our luncheon investment challenge. WAY TO GO!

There's still an opportunity to give to this challenge - our goal was $30,000, so if you didn't take part or would like to do more, here's your chance! Give now! 

Want to see more photos like the one above featuring our award-winning girls with Lisa Moore and WMC's Kontji Anthony? Check out this Facebook album!
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors - we are grateful for each and every one!
 1655 swoosh  FedEx  I Bank Stacked BuckmanCares Logo 2800229 Guss Cummins Inc. print logo iplogo large

Abbey Bratcher, Knack Photo

Baker Donelson

Baptist Memorial Healthcare

Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co.

Café Society

Choate’s Air Conditioning, Heating
& Plumbing

Churchill Studios

Claudia Haltom

Deano Orr, International Paper

Denise Wood, FedEx Corporation

Dottie Berry, FedEx Services

First Tennessee

Gaskill Strategies

Gloria R. Boyland, FedEx Corporation

Green Mountain Technology

Happy Jones

Jasmine Pree-Hameth, International Paper

Judy Edge, FedEx Corporation

Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, LLC

Mass Mutual



Memphis Wellesley Club

Ménage Fine Stationary & Gifts

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare

National Civil Rights Museum

Pinnacle Financial Partners

Shelby County Commissioner, Mark Billingsley

Susan Plunkett

Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis

Special thanks to our corporate volunteers:
Cummins, Inc.
International Paper
Mass Mutual

Jennifer BrooksDespite a recent increase in the number of young women with successful careers in fields based in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),  just 14 percent of engineers today are women.

Lucky for scores of Mid-South girls, one of those women is Jennifer Brooks.

Three years ago Jennifer, a product specialist with Medtronic in Memphis, led an effort to start a local robotics competition for young people using Lego Mindstorms kits. The first competition drew three teams. The winner was the only all-girl, non-school team from Girls Inc. Twenty teams competed in year two, mentored by Jennifer and other engineers. The winner was - you guessed it - a Girls Inc. team!

This year's competition will welcome 30 teams from across the Mid-South - four of them from Girls Inc.

Jennifer says her interest in math and science doesn't run in the family. But her parents supported her interest and she was exposed to activities that put her on the path to becoming an engineer. She went on to earn an undergraduate degree in engineering and a masters in biomedical engineering and has worked for six years at Medtronic.

“Coming up in engineering school, I was often the only girl in class,” Jennifer says. “I want to be able to move that needle. And Girls Inc. is doing a great job with that."

With help from volunteers like Jennifer, Girls Inc. of Memphis is working to move that needle. In addition to her time, Jennifer was recently among five Medtronic employees nationwide to receive the company’s volunteer award, which allowed her to direct a $5,000 grant to Girls Inc.

In the United States, 74% of girls express interest in STEM subjects in middle school. But by high school, only .3 percent of girls plan to major in computer science. 

For girls, a career in STEM can present them the opportunity to change the world. It is also a step in the right direction towards achieving wage equality. The wage gap for women in STEM fields is 86 cents of a man’s earnings, compared to 78 cents for all careers combined. The difference in salary can lead to women losing hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime.

Right here in Memphis, Girls Inc. is working to introduce more girls to STEM through hands-on, minds-on programs and experiences that girl with robotbuild their skills and confidence in math and science. In an exciting and supportive environment, girls put those skills to the test through critical problem solving, seeing STEM play out in real life. In addition, girls have the opportunity to build relationships with trusting mentors, who act as role models and encourage them to pursue careers in fields they would have not otherwise considered. (Read more about our EUREKA! program.)

Jennifer's travel schedule means she's focused more this year on curriculum and coordinating the 40 volunteer mentors working with this year's teams. But she's served as a mentor for Girls Inc. teams in the past.

It’s fun to watch the girls progress," she said. "It’s pretty daunting when they see what they have to do and have to learn. But as mentors, we help them break what they have to do into pieces - one piece at a time. As they progress, they get more confidence in their coding. And they become more confident in their abilities."

Thank you, Jennifer, Medtronic and all the mentors who are helping Girls inc. encourage girls to be strong, smart, bold---and STEM literate!



My grandmother, Mertie Buckman, suggested I get involved with Girls Inc. of Memphis. From day one I knew it was making a difference in our city by providing girls the skills and self-confidence the need to be successful. - Kathy Buckman Gibson

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