A Welcome from Executive Director Mark Sturgis

Why Seeding Success, Why Now?

In Memphis and Shelby County far too many children, youth, and young adults go through systems that do not adequately prepare them for success, leaving them with little options to compete in a global 21st century economy, let alone live stable and economically secure lives in Shelby CoMark Facilitatingunty. At each outcome we are tracking, from birth to postsecondary completion, thousands of our children are left behind every year. We cannot allow these trends to continue unchallenged.

Many in Shelby County have already stepped up to work on these issues, and some would say we are rich with programs, investments, and initiatives.  Yet, no one organization, alone, can solve our complex educational problems. Indeed, Memphis is even in the national spotlight for many of these, but the question remains, how do they all work together to measurably improve the lives of our children and increase educational attainment in our community?

To answer these questions, leaders from across sectors recognized the need for a broad based collaborative structure to support students’ academic and developmental needs.

The StriveTogether framework gave us a path to link our efforts under a common agenda, shared measurement, and collaborative action, and to connect practice through the use of data, so that we can measure, improve, and scale what works for collective impact. This is Seeding Success.

What Seeding Success offers is a way to connect efforts across organizational and institutional boundaries, informed by data, to ensure what we are doing is working for kids, learn from our successes and failures, and continuously improve what we do.

No one organization alone can solve our complex educational problems.

It may be best to talk a little about what Seeding Success is not as well, it is not a new organization, program, or initiative. It is about building long-term sustainable infrastructure, which supports better outcomes. In this sense, we believe Seeding Success is different in many ways from previous attempts to collaborate. We seek collective impact, not just as the latest buzz word, but as a committed and accountable partnership of practice, driven by a shared and rigorous pursuit of improving outcomes cradle to career.

We will not always get things right, but what we do commit through the launch of Seeding Success is that:

  • We will be accountable to the success of our children,
  • Start with existing resources to identify what is working in our community,
  • Support our partners to improve practice through continuous improvement and data use,
  • Look for every possible opportunity to take collaborative actions that breakdown silos, remove duplication of efforts, and improve outcomes at scale; and
  • Share our successes, while learning from our failures.

The stakes are too high, and resources too scarce, not to work in this way, and our children deserve adults who work together, and commit to always improving.

We believe we can achieve ambitious goals around improving cradle to career outcomes; but we cannot do this alone. We need every not-for-profit serving children and young adults 0-24, early childhood educators, k-12 systems, higher ed institutions, businesses, health care, philanthropies, government, and individuals to join us in this work. Together we can reach the collective impact that will transform Shelby County and the lives of our children.  You can find multiple ways to get involved or join a network on the website.

Beginning in 2012, I was lucky enough to be involved in getting this work off the ground, and I cannot be more thankful for the feedback and leadership of our community’s not-for-profit, business, philanthropic, and educational leadership who have built this partnership together. I look forward to the road ahead, and of course better outcomes for our kids.

In partnership,

Mark Sturgis