The Women's Foundation Core Grant Making Program

by Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis
Booker T. Washington Basketball Trip
Booker T. Washington Basketball Trip

Booker T. Washington Girls Basketball/Track Teams Educational/Cultural Experience exposes 60-70 low-income, African-American teenage girls to the many opportunities available within and outside of their community. The goal of the program is to motivate students using athletics as a tool for achieving their goals. The main objectives include increasing the number of student athletes who successfully graduate from high school, improving ACT scores four to six points, and increasing the number of students who attend postsecondary institutions.

Below is a letter from Coach Derek W. Hunter reporting on a basketball trip to New Orleans that exposed the student to much more than just athletic success. 

Just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate the support of The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. Our trip to New Orleans was wonderful! On our way to New Orleans, we found out that one of our former student-athletes (Daria Hester) was playing against the University of New Orleans women’s basketball team. Daria is a senior Pre-med/Biology major at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. She will be graduating in May and entering med school! Another former Lady Warrior student-athlete who is now one of our volunteer coaches, contacted her former coach at UNO to see if we could get tickets to the Jackson St. – University of New Orleans women’s basketball game. Modern technology is wonderful! We took a picture of our roster and emailed the coach at UNO. Ten minutes into the game we were sitting in the bleachers. We tried not to be too obvious to the UNO players that we were cheering for Daria!

Our accommodations while in New Orleans were at The Roosevelt Hotel on Baronne Street. The director of the tournament has a daughter who works at The Roosevelt. She booked us discounted rooms at her luxury hotel. You should have seen their Christmas decorations!

Our first game in the tournament was against Louisiana’s number one ranked small schools team. They were undefeated when we played them. Although we played them tough, they remained undefeated after our game. The rest of the tournament was a different story. We won our next three games and were the consolation bracket champions!

On Tuesday we visited St. Mary’s Academy for a short work-out. St. Mary’s is a Catholic private school that was founded by African-American nuns. Once a thriving, well attended school, St. Mary’s enrollment has dropped considerably after Hurricane Katrina. Our kids were glad they didn’t have to wear those plaid skirts and black and white oxford shoes!

We celebrated our victory against Landry high school with a buffet dinner at Golden Corral. The people at Golden Corral treated us like celebrities. Many of the customers there wanted to know who we were, and where we were from. The kids were very well behaved and very full!!!

On Wednesday we had breakfast at a place called The Trolley Stop. I have been to New Orleans quite a bit and never knew about this place. Michelle said she ate there when she lived in New Orleans. It was a nice small quaint restaurant. The food and service was outstanding and the prices were very reasonable. From there we went to the Lakeside Mall in Kenner. One of our chaperones started a tradition of drawing names to exchange gifts while on our trip. Our kids have been given many blessings; during this activity they are taught the gift of giving. After leaving the mall, it was time for us to prepare for our 3rd game against West Jefferson. They were big! They boasted one of Louisiana’s top college recruits, a young lady who was 6’3”! Our kids did a great job on her and we beat them in a close game 38-36. Did I mention that we beat Landry by almost 30 the night before?!

Thursday was a busy day. After a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, we visited historically black universities, Dillard and Xavier. Several of the kids showed great interest in those schools. After visiting the colleges, we headed to the Riverwalk. I rushed the kids on to the ferry boat and pointed out the bridge that Denzel Washington filmed the movie, Déjà Vu. They were shocked when the ferry boat started moving! When we got back from the ferry boat ride, we took pictures in the area from another Denzel movie, The Pelican Brief. One of our students shared a desire to be a marine biologist. I had budgeted enough for us to visit the New Orleans Aquarium even at almost $16.00 a person. When I got to the window to pay for our group, out of curiosity, I asked the ticket lady if they had any discounts. She gave me a number and a form to fill out. I was given a reservation number from the person on the phone; our total went from over $300.00 to $81.00!! After our visit to the aquarium, we rushed back to the hotel and got ready for our 4th and final game against Xavier Prep. Xavier put up a good fight, but the Lady Warriors went on to win their 3rd game of the tournament and the consolation bracket championship. After the game we drove across the river to Gretna, Louisiana in search of Ryan’s Buffet. Ryan’s wasn’t Golden Corral but they were close! We figured if the kids got full, they’d go straight to bed when we got back to the hotel. Wrong!!!! We had done all we wanted to do in New Orleans so we decided to leave a couple of hours earlier the next morning. When the kids woke up we were in Jackson, Mississippi. After breakfast at Cracker Barrel it was off to Memphis!

When we got to the Batesville exit, we had the kids start calling their rides. When the bus pulled in front of the BTW gym, all the parents were there. I guess they missed their babies!

In terms of basketball, this was probably our most successful trip ever. The experiences outside of basketball were things the kids will never forget. Some of the basketball players who also run track have already begun talking about returning to New Orleans for the AllState Sugar Bowl Track & Field Meet. Last year we had 30 young ladies participate in the Sugar Bowl Track Meet. Over 1200 athletes from across the country participate in this very competitive meet. We will continue our college tours and visits to the historical venues of one of our country’s greatest cities. We also plan to visit areas of New Orleans that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Once again we would like to thank you for your continued support. 

Coach Derek W. Hunter
Booker T. Washington H.S.

Alejandra in front of HER store
Alejandra in front of HER store

Meet Alejandra.  Alejandra’s desire to obtain her GED at DeNeuville Learning Center was the first step to opening a store for the Hispanic community. As a mother of five children, Alejandra’s goal meant finding a GED program offering childcare. DeNeuville was able to meet that need, helping Alejandra to get her GED and her A+ computer technician certification.

Because of Alejandra’s determination and the support of DeNeuville, her dream is a reality as Novedades Reynoso, which sells an assortment of convenience store products along with specialty items for baptisms, birthdays, and weddings. Alejandra even makes some items by hand.

Ultimately, Alejandra says, “Although I dropped out of school, by returning to DeNeuville for my GED, I hoped my children would learn the value of education.”

Now, Alejandra’s oldest daughter is studying at Wellesley College, and her younger children are intent on following their mother’s example of working hard to achieve their dreams.

DeNeuville Learning Center has been a Grantee Partner with the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis for seven years.  This year, your donations provided funding for the Job Readiness and Career Development Challenge Program. 

Job Readiness and Career Development Challenge provides opportunities for 200 women who are unemployed or work in minimum wage jobs, have very limited resources for self-improvement and/or have mental health problems or low self-esteem.

The program advances job readiness through basic education, GED achievement, literacy skills, career development and  self-esteem building, leading to better employment opportunities, self-confidence and social and economic independence.

DeNeuville Learning Center  empowered one woman who then contributed to the success of her family and community.

Thank you for supporting the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis!  Because of your gifts, WFGM is one of the fastest growing women’s foundations in the country that is dedicated to securing and granting funds to programs that enable women and their families to become economically stable. We are considered to be on the leading edge of economic and community development focused on moving families living at or below the poverty level toward economic security.

Since 1996, WFGM has invested $14.3 million into the Memphis community through grant making, community initiatives and public private partnerships, helping to serve 16,500 people each year. Of that total, $6.6 million has been awarded to 395 programs involving more than 100 local non-profits, including investments in advocacy and research. Since 2004, WFGM has invested $7.7 million for Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE, a public-private partnership providing comprehensive, personalized case management for more than 1,200 current and former public housing residents.

For 2012-2013, we have invested $630,000 in grants to 33 local non-profit programs the following areas of focus: Economic and Financial Literacy, Job Readiness/Career Development, Leadership Development, Non-Traditional Job Training, and Entrepreneurship, Advocacy and Research, and Technical Support.  Please see the full list of organizations and programs below. 

A Bridge of Hope Ministries – Change Is Possible: Life Skills for Self-Sufficiency
Advance Memphis – Advance Memphis: Jobs for Life
Agape Child and Family Services, Inc. – H.I.R.E Learning
Blues City Cultural Center, Inc. – Seek to Serve and The Hope Day Zone
Booker T. Washington High School – Booker T. Washington Girls Basketball/Track Teams Educational/Cultural Experience
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Memphis Shelby County, Inc. – Next Steps
Collierville Literacy Council – GED: The Time is Now!
Community Legal Center – Legal Services for Women
DeNeuville Learning Center for Women – Job Readiness and Career Development Challenge
Dress for Success Memphis – Success Is Working
Families of Incarcerated Individuals – Doorways Re-entry Program
Girl Scouts Heart of the South – Today’s Girls; Tomorrow’s Leaders
Girls Incorporated of Memphis – So You Want to be an Entrepreneur
Grace House of Memphis – Grace House of Memphis Phoenix Project
HopeWorks, Inc. – Personal and Career Development Class
Karat Place, Inc. – Job Readiness-Rehabilitating Women Ex-offenders for Self-sufficiency
Latino Memphis – Abriendo Puertas – Opening Doors
Memphis Area Legal Services – Opportunity Plus Program
Memphis Family Shelter – Family Counseling Program
Memphis Interfaith Hospitality Network – MIHN Homeless Family Counseling Program
Memphis Urban Debate League Advisory Board – Memphis Urban Debate League
Memphis Urban League, Inc. – Project Ready
Meritan, Inc. – Senior Community Service Employment Program
Mi Techo, Inc. – Financial Literacy Initiative
Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc. – Women Empowered to Succeed: Life Skills and Job Training
New Ballet Ensemble and School – New Ballet Ensemble & School Scholarship Fund
RISE Foundation, Inc. – Save Up Program
Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation – Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA)
The Exchange Club Family Center – First STEPS (Skills To Ensure Parenting Success)/Parent Aide Program: Parenting and Life Skills, Education and Mentoring For First Time Teen Mothers
The Salvation Army – Renewal Place
Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE – Community Supportive Services
University of Memphis Research Foundation-Herff CE – Girls Experiencing Engineering 2013
YWCA of Greater Memphis – Young Women Trained and Ready & Girls Just Want to Have Funds



Read about the Memphis Urban Debate League, a WFGM Grantee Partner:

Nyree, a 17-year-old student, is a proud member of the Memphis Urban Debate League. She is a Senior in high school with the No. 1 Debate Team in the city and also taking college courses locally. I have gained so much confidence since joining the debate league as a freshman.

I can now have a conversation with adults concerning things such as politics and the environment. I have become a better speaker, a more critical thinker, and an excellent researcher. Being a debater has afforded me more opportunities than I ever imagined.

Thank you all.


Patrice T.
Patrice T.
Do you remember reading about Patrice, a student from the Girls Experiencing Engineering Program, in 2010? Here is an update on her experience...
Eight Years of Excellence
Patrice T, Student to Mentor
2011 marked year 8 for the Girls Experiencing Engineering (GEE) program. GEE is an interactive, fast-paced program involving activities that motivate and challenge middle and high school femail participants to explore math, science and engineering. Women are underrepresented in the engineering field. Since its inception in 2004, GEE has introduced over 1,000 girls to opportunities through engineering.
Patrice T. participated in GEE as a high school student. She remembers, "I was inspired that the female guest speakers didn't sit behind a desk all day. I loved how they encourage us not to limit ourselves." GEE taught Patrice that "a career in engineering will be challenging, but the rewards are far greater."
Patrice is now in college majoring in Civil Engineering and was named head GEE mentor. "My greatest success was being trusted to mentor all of the mentors," Patrice says, "I love GEE and all of my GEE girls."


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Organization Information

Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis

Location: Memphis, TN - USA
Project Leader:
Ruby Bright
Executive Director
Memphis, TN United States

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