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A Memphis-area bank and two local non-profits are preparing to make another investment in the education of Mid-South girls.

Applications for the Step Ahead Scholarship are being accepted now through April 15. Now in its third year, the program will once again award $100,000 in scholarships to girls and young women with plans to continue their studies beyond high school.

The scholarship is a collaborative effort of A Step Ahead Foundation and Girls Inc. of Memphis. BankTennessee manages the scholarship program, which is for young women committed to making a positive impact on the Memphis area by encouraging academic success and effective life planning.

For Terriney Gipson, a former Girls Inc. participant and a past recipient, college was not a guaranteed part of her future—but it was something she wanted.

“This program,” Terriney said, “has been a tremendous support, and because of it I am a Psychology major with a minor in Social Work at East Tennessee State University.”

Ingram Stovall said her award made her aware of the fact that she was a role model for other young women.

“That inspired me to keep going,” she said. “It lifted a weight off of my mother’s shoulders and allowed me to make it through my final year of school with no serious expenses. I’m forever grateful to A Step Ahead and I cannot wait to see the impact that they will continue to make on the lives of young women.”

The scholarship program—available to any female Shelby County resident aged 17 to 30 with plans to attend an accredited university, community college, licensed career college or technical school—has awarded $200,000 in the last two years. Out of 40 applications the first year, 14 girls received awards. In year two there were nearly 90 applicants and 21 recipients.

A Step Ahead CEO Claudia Haltom says helping girls like Terriney and Ingram set and achieve goals is what the scholarship is all about.

“Being able to attend and complete college is so important to the women in our community,” Haltom said. “We want to empower all women to achieve their hopes and dreams.”

Both Girls Inc. and A Step Ahead are focused on encouraging the educational advancement and leadership development of young women in the Memphis area, says Girls Inc. president and CEO Lisa Moore,

“This scholarship is a collaborative way we can make a positive impact on our community while advancing our respective missions,” Moore said. "Both our organizations are invested in equipping girls and women to be healthy, educated and economically self-sustaining adults."

Multiple scholarships of at least $2,000 will be awarded from a $100,000 fund. Awards will be 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.

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

For more information and to download the application, click here.

Raejean Davis was excited to share her story with the 45 guests at Girls Inc.'s October dinner at Cafe Society in Midtown.

"It was an amazing feeling that I can have value," Raejean said, "and that people wanted to take their time out for me."

DSCN0245 smallThe four-course meal, hosted by Chef Cullen Kent, included produce from our very own Youth Farm. it was a yummy way to share the Girls Inc. story with new and old friends alike.

Raejean was among six Girls Inc. girl who served dinner to guest and shared personal stories about waht Girls Inc. has meant to them. They each gained behind-the-scenes knowledge of the restaurant industry, were able to network with leaders in the community and strengthened their public speaking skills. 

Diners also heard from president and CEO Lisa Moore and former Girls Inc. girl and incoming board president Adriane Williams, who shared personal stories as well as her reasons for staying involved with Girls Inc. over the years.

Many guests expressed how impressed they were with the young women and how inspired they are by what Girls Inc. of Memphis is doing in the community. Each guest left full of Chef Kent's delicious food AND full of knowledge of the many ways to support Girls Inc. through financial contributions, job placements and volunteering.

If you would like to learn about these opportunities, visit our volunteer page or click here to donate.

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A group of young boys and girls gathered at a playground in Shelby Farms Park Saturday morning to spend the day riding new bikes for the first time.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Bike Recycle is a program offered in partnership with the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, Oasis of Hope, Renasant Bank, YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South and Girls Inc.

The program provides children across Shelby County with new bikes and teaches them how to ride and maintain them safely.

YMCA and Girls Inc. referred the children, looking for those without bikes or the opportunity to purchase one on their own, said Natalie Wilson, senior manager of events and programs for the conservancy.

"Here we are in a park space that sits in the middle of our city but the citizens, the kids and families, we have a responsibility of serving them too," Wilson said. "Part of what we look at is how can we transform the city through children and their families by providing education."

This year the program gave bikes and helmets to 28 5- to 12-year-olds. Before they could take anything home, each child took three bike safety courses that taught them the rules of the road, as well as maintenance tips like how to remove a chain or tire, Wilson said.

After the final safety course, the riders took off on a "graduation ride" in the park with an adult "bike buddy" before returning to the parking lot where they could pedal around a buffalo in a park ranger hat.

Bike buddy Calvin Anderson is a member of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy Board and a senior officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield. He spent the morning biking alongside the girls and boys who were applying what they learned in the workshops to the real world.

"This is an opportunity to not only put bikes in the hands of kids, but to promote and encourage physical fitness and outdoor activity," he said. "This sort of teaches the kids not only safe riding but also how to care for the bikes that they have."

Parent Anastasia Davis said the program gave her the opportunity for one-on-one time with her 6-year-old daughter Jada Alexander, who spent the morning with her mother atop a tiny purple Schwinn.

She said the courses were very helpful and educational.

"It's more than just a bike," Davis said. "It teaches them to actually be safe, how to check the bike and tires."

Blue Cross Blue Shield donated money to the program, and Oasis of Hope collected donated bikes to be fixed up and matched to the children based on their size and height, Wilson said.

Source: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/suburbs/germantown/memphis-youth-learn-bike-safety-26679d03-8b17-4e2e-e053-0100007f05cc-363037691.html

IMG 5811When local beekeeper Louis Padgett paid a visit to the Girls Inc. Youth Farm, the girls he worked with were, understandably, a little hesitant.

"We're not going to mess with them today, right?" one farmer asked.

All that passed one the bee-master got down to business. He spoke to the girls about everything from entrepreneurship to the importance of bees to the ecosystem - like the fact that honeybees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of the food that is eaten worldwide.

Next the girls were guided in the process of building their own beehive, which will see its first bee resisdents next spring. With guidance from Louis and encouragement from each other, they went from girls who had barely used a hammer to power tool pros who can't wait for their next project.

Then it was time to get to know some bees.

The session was scheduled to end with a photo of the girls in protective beekeeping suits, but they weren't about to stop there! Armed with new knowledge and appreciation for bees, the girls accompanied Louis on an inspection of the farm's existing hives. Thanks to the Memphis Area Beekeeper's Association, there were plenty of suits and hive smokers to allow the girls to safely explore the bee's world.

It was a high-water mark for the girls - they challenged themselves to safely face a once-terrifying thing and walked right into the thick of their fears. They took initiative and ownership and we couldn't be prouder. They truly embodied the spirit of bold.


I was very shy and didn’t speak to anyone or interact with others much. I love to read, have natural hair, have been called weird. I came to Girls Inc. and because I was accepted the way I am, I came out of my shell. I tried new things, I have found my voice. - Rahni

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