Adriane Johnson WilliamsLast month, Adriane Johnson-Williams became chair of the Girls Inc. of Memphis Board of Directors, the first alum of the program to ever serve in that position.

If that's not "full circle" enough for you, dig this - she takes over as Girls Inc. prepares to expand back into the 38126 zip code, where she grew up and got her first taste of Girls Inc. - at the center at LeMoyne Gardens.

"I'm a Girls Club girl from 38126," she said. "When I moved back to Memphis and realized Girls Inc. was no longer active in 38126, I was like, 'Where are my people?' So I'm thrilled about this."

Thrilled but not surprised. When she decided it was time to come back to Memphis she threw herself into the efforts to reform education and education policy with an emphasis on collaboration. She found her way to Girls Inc. quickly and has been active on the board's program committee. Last year she agreed to assume the board vice-chair position, knowing becoming chair was the logical next step. She was hesitant at first.

"I knew it was going to be a heavy lift," she says. "But it didn't take long for me to say yes to stepping up. If we're going to improve Memphis, Girls Inc. is a critical organization."

The well-being of women and girls, she says, is tied directly to the well-being of children and families and is, therefore, the bedrock of any community, including Memphis. The continued improvement she's been seeing positions Girls Inc. of Memphis to make an even greater impact on that well-being.

She's had a hand in the three-year strategic plan the organization will soon launch and a push to align the organization's mission, including the decision to end the relationship with the TRiO program.

"We made the tough decision to step away," she said. "This was a big move. But it didn't fully provide the Girls Inc. expereince."

All that planning and alignment means Girls Inc. is more outcome-focused than ever, she says, and ready to provide more of that Girls Inc. experience to more girls than ever before. There's a new, big vision for the Youth Farm and hiring is under-way for staff that will work with 50+ girls in a new center to be based at Booker T. Washington in the 38126 zip code.

"This is thrilling to me for a number of reasons," Adriane said. "It's like home to me and the principal at BTW (Alisha Kiner) is a cousin of mine I've looked up to my entire life."

Whether it's at a center or the farm or elsewhere, Girls Inc. is something Memphis needs more of, she says.

"I think Memphis lacks what I call opportunity structures, where children can learn no matter what," she said. "How do we create more and better opportunity structures? How do we add pathways to success, however you define success? How do we offer rich learning experiences in which children are free from violence, fed, clothed and encouraged to express themselves and think?"

One answer, she says, is the Girls Inc. Experience.

"Girls Inc. IS an opportunity structure," Adriane says. "And what's really important is that it's not just an opportunity to hear about something but to engage deeply. It's opening girls eyes and providing those opportunities. At the Farm, it's more than getting out in the field - it's about creating a business plan and learning about profits and losses."

It's also about exposing girls to STEM learning, Adriane says, and all the other ways Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Not the only answer, but it's definitely one of them.

"It's a model," she says, "of what should be provided to all children in Memphis."


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.

Summer in Memphis may mean slowing down, but for Girls Inc. girls, it definitely DOESN'T mean stopping.

Just like the veggies being harvested by our farmers at the GIrls Inc. Youth farm in Frayser, girls in our summer programs are always growing--body, mind and spirit.

At our South Park and LDT Centers, our BOLD camp sessions are under way. During the just-ended STRONG and SMART sessions, girls built solar cars, took part in fitness challenges and heard from the Gang Unit from the Memphis Police Department--among many other fun and meaningful activities.

 LDT strong South Park Solar car 
LDT Gang unit South Park Wall
Our Eureka! interns, who have been shadowing at organizations and businesses around town, recently made their workplace exploration presentations. Below are examples from interns who spent time at BRIDGES and the Memphis College of Art. Also, Eureka! participants in their fifth summer are taking part in college residential programs this summer--staying on campuses, attending workshops and classes and experiencing college life. Below are images of some participants visiting the University of Alabama and the University of Kentucky.
Eureka BRIDGES Eurkea MCA 
Eureka bama Eureka Kentucky

Farmers at the Youth Farm have been busy working the fields, harvesting and selling their crops (like the ones in the photo below) at the Memphis Farmers Market. They also hosted a "Memphis United - Know Your Rights" workshop presented by the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

GIM Farm 2 GIM Farm 3 

And on July 1, all our summer program participants gathered for Unity Day for mini-Olympics, field sports, arts and crafts, an inflatable obstacle course--your basic fun, food and fellowship.

Unity Day 1 Unity day 2
Unity day 3 Unity day 4

So you can see - summer's no time for slouching for a Girls Inc. girl. With that out of the way, it's time for a friendly reminder - REGISTRATION is now OPEN for fall programming at our centers! Register today at LDT Center (686 N. Seventh St.) or South Park Center (1568 Robin Hood Ln)!

Get it out of the way - so you can relax for the rest of the summer!


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


I’ve always been good in school and loved being involved in Girls Inc. I participated in a collaborative program with Hatiloo Theatre and it was then I found my voice. I realized what I want to do…I want to act! Since having my eyes opened through this experience, I’ve been in 3 Hatiloo productions and 5 White Station High School productions. - Kelsie

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Girls Inc. of Memphis
Administrative Office
910 Vance Ave.
Memphis, TN 38126
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