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First 8 Memphis Hosts Official Launch Celebration

November 20, 2019

New Nonprofit Aligns Shelby County’s Early Childhood Programs

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – First 8 Memphis hosted the official launch celebration of its comprehensive early childhood system serving Shelby County children and families on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. The new nonprofit held a press conference at Downtown Elementary, 10 N 4th St., to celebrate the community and partners who have supported its plan to scale countywide early childhood programs.  

Press Conference

Key representatives in the press conference included Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray, Maycomb Capital Co-Founder Andrea Phillips, and First 8 Interim Executive Director Regina Walker. They spoke to the role of government, philanthropy and community in ensuring the success of First 8’s Early Childhood System.

“Reaching key milestones makes it easier for children to learn new skills that help them succeed in school and life,” said Walker. “Our vision is to prepare 90% of children to be kindergarten ready and 90% of 3rd grade children to be reading on grade-level by 2025. We will achieve that vision by collaborating with partners across the continuum during children’s early years.”

Four-Strategy System

First 8’s System aligns Shelby County’s early childhood continuum through several core strategies, including Pre-K, Home Visitation, Childcare and K-3rd grade supports. Each plays a critical role in promoting children’s optimal development and achievement from prenatal through age 8 — while supporting safety and stability for the whole family. With 41% of Shelby County children entering school kindergarten ready, First 8’s system will ensure a more successful transition to K-12 education, college, career, and a thriving community.

Renita Farrow, a Pre-K parent at Porter-Leath said, “Early childhood education has helped my daughter build her confidence in the classroom. She’s learned letters, sounds and songs that are building her vocabulary and early literacy.  She is also an only child, and she’s developed the tools to transition to kindergarten from listening, sharing and taking turns with her classmates.” Porter-Leath is an early childhood operator in the First 8 System.

Outcomes Financing

As one of its first initiatives, First 8 is leading a public-private partnership with The City of Memphis, Shelby County Government, the Urban Child Institute, and the Community Outcomes Fund at Maycomb Capital to support access to high quality pre-k using outcomes financing. This approach to funding—sometimes called Pay for Success—enables the City and County to link funding for pre-k to outcomes instead of paying upfront for process and compliance. From the perspective of government, paying for outcomes allows it to focus on ensuring that children are developing their pre-literacy skills and that they are on track and on grade level when they enter Kindergarten. More broadly, outcomes financing is a tool that aligns local spending with community outcomes, enhances accountability, and builds transparency into human service delivery.

“High-quality pre-k is critical to improving the literacy rate for Shelby County children,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. “This innovative Pay for Performance model helps ensure our pre-k investment results in growth in our children. It’s a win on a lot of different orders because we have been able to develop partnerships and align incentives, all for the benefit of our children.”

“We’re really thrilled to be part of this important public-private partnership that expands access to high-quality early education for children in Shelby County. Through this collaborative effort with the City, the County, Seeding Success, First 8 Memphis, the Urban Child Institute and other local partners, we’re excited to help align local spending with the outcomes that matter to the community and ensure that four-year old children get the educational start that they need and deserve in pre-k.” said Andrea Phillips, Managing Partner of the Community Outcomes Fund at Maycomb Capital.

Please view First 8’s video to learn more about its public-private partnership.

By enhancing communication and coordination between programs, First 8 helps children and families reach their full potential. Its Early Childhood System will continue to improve outcomes, while supporting professional and educational opportunities for parents. 

First 8 Memphis Logo

About First 8 Memphis

First 8 Memphis is a 501c3 devoted to serving Shelby County children 0-8 and their families through high-quality early childhood programs. Through comprehensive Pre-K, Home Visitation, Childcare and K-3rd grade programs, First 8 successfully prepares children for kindergarten readiness and third-grade literacy. To learn more, visit first8memphis.org, call (901) 614-3672 or email ladora@first8memphis.org.

Seeding Success Logo

About Seeding Success
Seeding Success is the Memphis Cradle to Career partnership that seeks to ensure every child has the support and resources they need to succeed cradle to career. As a leader of systems-level change, the Seeding Success partnership encourages collaboration among diverse partners, by building their capacity to make data-informed decisions that put children at the center; advocates for equity-based policies and funding to remove barriers and sustain improvements; and helps design systems to address disparities. To learn more, visit seeding-success.org.

The Urban Child Institute logo

About Urban Child Institute
The Urban Child Institute (UCI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the education, health, and well-being of young children in Shelby County. By supporting programs, policies, and systems that serve under-resourced families with young children, UCI seeks to advance the vision of Shelby County as a place where all children are kindergarten-ready and are reading at or beyond grade level by 3rd grade. UCI’S support and partnership with Memphis nonprofits to move the needle on these outcomes for children 0-8 is holistic and inclusive of the child’s family and environment. To learn more, visit urbanchildinstitute.org.

The Community Outcomes Fund - Maycomb Capital - logo

About The Community Outcomes Fund at Maycomb Capital
The Community Outcomes Fund is the largest pool of dedicated capital for outcomes financing in the United States. The Community Outcomes Fund seeks to transform the way that government funds services for low-income and disadvantaged families by enabling government and its partners to focus on outcomes rather than process and compliance. To date, there have been about twenty outcomes financing projects in the United States. By establishing a dedicated fund, Maycomb Outcomes is pioneering a new model to accelerate the market and help scale outcomes financing investments across the country. To learn more, visit maycombcapital.com/the-community-outcomes-fund.

First 8 Memphis Hosts Official Launch Celebration – Press Release (PDF)