People First Partnership

PeopleFirst Partnership is an unprecedented collaborative effort dedicated to improving education outcomes and growing talent in Memphis/Shelby County.

PeopleFirst is an extraordinary partnership with a singular focus: to build a competitive workforce for the new economy by strengthening education from early childhood through college attainment. As the education and talent component of the public-private coalition Memphis Fast Forward, our work includes a portfolio of initiatives anchored by four goals, ten strategies, and key performance metrics

Operating as usual


This... be a carrier!

Highly contagious... 06/29/2017

Grant helps 7,000 Shelby Co. children attend pre-k

We must continue to invest in our children! Kids who enter Kindergarten ready to learn are more likely than their peers to read on grade level by 3rd grade, and are in turn more likely to graduate!

Research shows that quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children produce a 7% – 16% return on investment per child, per year, through better education, health, social, and economic outcomes.

The Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) grant that expanded pre-K access to students in SCS, ASD, Millington and Bartlett will run out after the 2018-2019 school year. It is vital to our community that we find a way to continue to education our children to ensure the health of our community. Greeted by bundles of books at their tables, educators, legislators, and parents met for the second annual Shelby County Pre-K Summit.

2nd Annual Shelby County Pre-K Summit 06/28/2017

2nd Annual Shelby County Pre-K Summit


Check out the photos from the 2nd Annual Shelby County Pre-K Summit!

Thanks to everyone who came out and participated this morning. With hard hard work and community support, we can help make affordable, quality early childcare available to all children and families in Shelby County!

Pictures from the 2017 Shelby County Pre-K Summit on June 28 at the Kroc Center in Memphis 04/04/2017

What could reverse Tennessee's dismal college dropout rate?

"Three out of four students in community colleges will not graduate on time, and with our universities, about half will do so."

On average, students with a high school diploma earn $26,000, compared to $45,000 for someone with a college degree.

We must continue to work on improving college readiness of our graduates and focus on retaining students once they are enrolled. Tennessee has done a good job in helping high school graduates go to college, but a high percentage of students drop out of their programs before obtaining a degree, local business, education and government leaders were told Wednesday. 03/06/2017

Opportunity Youth Report | Seeding Success

Memphis has the highest opportunity youth rate among the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country with 18.7 percent (29,830) of youth ages 16 to 24 not currently enrolled in school and not working.

Reconnecting opportunity youth to educational and employment opportunities can increase taxpayer savings, improve opportunity youth health outcomes, reduce criminal activity in communities, and contribute to long-term economic growth.

The Opportunity Youth Collaborative Action Network is committed to working to address the high rate of disconnect for youth in Shelby County.

To learn more about Opportunity Youth and the work of the Opportunity Youth CAN view the Baseline Report. Seeding Success is a diverse partnership representing K-12 institutions, not-for-profits, business, health, civic, faith and philanthropic organizations that are committed to fearlessly pursuing educational outcomes for children. 03/02/2017

Teacher motivates students with high-energy daily mantra

This is great!

Congratulations to Michael Scruggs of W.E.B. Du Bois School of Leadership and Public Policy for inspiring kids daily! Michael Scruggs runs around the classroom to energize and motivate students. 02/22/2017

Third parent counseling center opens Tuesday

A new Universal Parenting Place counseling center opened yesterday in Memphis aimed at helping parents overcome trauma and develop healthy relationships with their children. Universal Parenting Places aim to help parents learn positive parenting strategies and seek free counseling. 02/20/2017

Porter-Leath Early Childhood Academy grand opening!

Porter-Leath opened its newest Early Childhood Academy earlier this month located at 628 Alice Avenue.

The new, state-of-the-art school will house more than 200 students in 16 classrooms.

Seeding Success visited during the grand opening. See the new building below. 01/30/2017

Indianapolis Public Schools are using new ways to reduce absenteeism. And they’re working.


Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, chronic absenteeism (missing 18 or more days of school a year) will be included as a school performance measure as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act accountability structure.

Around the country, schools are working to improve chronic absenteeism rates and help get more students in the classroom. School districts across the country are paying extra attention to improving attendance and reducing chronic absenteeism in recent years. 01/12/2017

Memo: Improving student achievement by meeting children’s comprehensive needs | Brookings Institution

"Integrated student supports can contribute to student academic progress as measured by decreases in grade retention and dropout, and increases in attendance, math achievement, reading and ELA [English Language Arts] achievement, and overall GPA.”

Our partners work tirelessly to help align resources and programs to support improved academic achievement for Shelby County students.

Our school district and state have recommended similar efforts through the new ESSA waiver. This is an important step to meet the "whole" needs of our children, and we look forward to continuing to support your efforts. THE SITUATION The confluence of your election, passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and emerging research presents an opportunity to more effectively and efficiently leverage existing … 01/05/2017

The Tennessee Department of Education recently released a draft of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State plan, which impacts each of the state's more than 1800 public schools.

The plan outlines five priority areas including early foundations and literacy, high school and bridge to post-secondary, individualized support for all students, educator support and district empowerment.

As part of the proposal, TDOE will underscore the importance of Chronic Absenteeism (missing 18 or more days of school a year) as one of its accountability measures for school quality and student access. State and Federal dollars will be used to provide support and technical assistance to districts with a focus on understanding and addressing underlying factors that may lead to chronic absenteeism. In addition, training and support will be provided to address the reduction of chronic absenteeism.

In Memphis and Shelby County, school districts and local partners have teamed up for the Represent Every Day campaign, a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness of the consequences of chronic absenteeism and to reduce chronic absenteeism by 25% district-wide in 2016-17.

To learn more about Represent Every Day visit

To view the full ESSA draft click the link below. 12/21/2016

Tennessee’s completed schools plan is finally out. Here’s what insiders are saying.

The Tennessee Department of Education released the first draft of its K-12 education plan on Tuesday, with the potential to reshape the state’s 1,800 public schools.

The State will collect feedback on the proposal until January 31, before submitting the final draft to the US DOE in April.

To see the full 286 page plan and provide feedback, visit The plan, released in response to a sweeping new federal education law, has the potential to reshape the state’s 1,600 public schools. 12/16/2016

Shelby students struggle in state test, but shine in science

The Tennessee Department of Education released district and school level TnReady scores this week and the results show room for improvement as well as bright spots in Memphis and Shelby County.

Together, we can use this data to help inform decisions moving forward to better prepare our students for college and career.

To see the TnReady Education Report Card visit School-by-school results and district-level results will be released Tuesday. 12/13/2016

Investing early in quality child care for at-risk kids pays off big later, research finds

Research suggests that high-quality early child care programs for disadvantaged children starting just after birth produces major social, educational, and financial returns over the long term.

The PeopleFirst Partnership is proud to support the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Plan, which aims to ensure that children and families receive the aligned, high-quality support they need from birth! New research shows high-quality child care from birth to age five yields huge financial returns in the form of better education, health and job outcomes. 12/09/2016

Meet the leader behind one Memphis school’s Blue Ribbon success

Innovative strategies can help lead to classroom success. We are so proud of Jackson Elementary for being named a 2016 Blue Ribbon School! Principal Yolanda Heidelberg turned a high-poverty school with a lot of English language learners into one of the district’s fastest-improving schools. 12/08/2016

What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries

Every three years The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is given to 15-year-olds in more than 60 countries. The test asks students to solve problems, recognize patterns and make compelling written arguments.

The data allows researchers to build models that help predict which countries will perform well and the factors that contribute to success.

In general, the models show that the smartest countries tend to be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious, directed more resources to the neediest children, enrolled children in high-quality Pre-K, established a constant improvement culture, and applied consistent standards. The U.S. fared poorly, as usual, in a worldwide ranking of students’ test scores, but it showed significant gains among disadvantaged teenagers. 12/02/2016

Shelby County Schools

Shelby County Schools along with SchoolSeed Foundation and Local Memphis are hosting the second annual Operation: Warm Hearts Winter Clothing Drive today from sun-up to sun-down.

Schools, parents and District staff will work to “stuff the bus." You can drop new or gently used coats at the SCS central office located at 160 South Hollywood in midtown Memphis.

Here are the items being collected for students this winter:
Hats & Gloves
Scarves With the help of our partners, ABC24 and SchoolSeed, we’re hosting a "Stuff the Bus" holiday giving event on Friday, December 2, for the second annual Operation: Warm Hearts winter clothing donations.


An exciting day with L.A. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and local community partners including Porter-Leath, Communities In Schools of Tennessee at Memphis, Grizzlies Prep, Shelby County Schools, and Workforce Investment Network discussing barriers and strategies to improve education outcomes! #datadriven #datainformed 11/28/2016

Shelby County Schools' Hopson: Equity for all students

Superintendent Hopson on the importance of equity of facilities in Shelby County Schools and his vision to get there. We must continue to have courageous conversations about ensuring resources are distributed in an equitable and efficient way across our district. 11/21/2016

The holiday season is finally here! Don't forget students, even though it's almost #turkeyday, you still have to #representeveryday! 11/17/2016

North Carolina just countered Tennessee’s findings on pre-K fadeout. Here’s the difference, according to researchers.

A new study out of North Carolina suggests that investment in public pre-K programs leads to better outcomes for students.

"Researchers found that the positive effects — including higher test scores, less grade retention, and fewer special education placements — grew or held steady over the years."

"The results echo what Vanderbilt researchers have said all along: that pre-K’s promise can only be realized if programs are high-quality and work in tandem with other parts of the education system." #datadriven #datainformed A year after a Vanderbilt study revealed weaknesses in public pre-K, a North Carolina study suggests public pre-K can work, at a cost.


Our very own Daphanie Swift out in the community helping local childcare centers understand the tools available to them!

Thank you to Kinder College 1 for hosting us!

Visit to learn about the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Plan.

I can just brag on my babies ALL DAY, EVERYDAY, but I guess you all know that! :-) We had our visit this morning, from Daffney Swift with People 1st Partnership and Rasel Hart from Porter Leath. ALL MY BABIES were EXCELLENT, they stayed on task, used their manners and were VERY RESPECTFUL of the time I needed to share with our guests :-) It was definitely a great opportunity to be able to sit with these 2 and discuss my assessments and assessment tools, curriculum, classroom setup, and past, present, and future training opportunities. I look forward to seeing them again and finding out more about their programs :-) I am extremely honored to have been chosen by these 2 organizations, to assist with the changes being made to improve the educational outcomes of our youth. I am not very familiar with either program so I have attached links to their pages so that WE ALL can find out more about them. I love meeting new people! 11/15/2016

Haslam plans to seek teacher pay boost for third straight year

Attracting and retaining quality teachers is a vital step in improving education outcomes for our students! We are proud of Gov. Haslam for making teacher pay a priority! Tennessee’s governor says he’ll seek a substantial increase for teacher pay, although not as much as the state could afford with its considerable surplus.


People First Partnership's cover photo 11/07/2016

Tennessee Promise sets application record — again!

For the third straight year, TN Promise applications have set record highs. More than 60,000 high school seniors throughout Tennessee have applied for the program, making them eligible for a tuition-free education at any of the state's community or technical colleges. 11/04/2016

Schools That Work

A great article on the impact of "high expectations, high support" schools on student outcomes.

Innovative strategies are being used in Boston to drive student learning and close the racial disparity gap. #datadriven #datainformed #continousimprovement

Hope everyone has a great weekend! The evidence is now overwhelming: One type of charter school has repeatedly shown impressive results. 10/31/2016

Tennessee Promise

Don't forget to apply for the TN Promise scholarship, the deadline is tomorrow!

To date, 5,400 our of nearly 9,800 Shelby County students have applied. Don't let someone you know leave money for college on the table! 10/28/2016

Haslam visit touts science growth

Great news! Tennessee students showed the fastest growth of any state on the National Assessment of Educational Progress science test!

Proud of our students and our partners for their hard work. Keep it up! Gov. Bill Haslam visited White Station Middle to share news of the state's growth on a national science test. 10/25/2016

Memphis educator named Tennessee’s principal of the year

Congratulations on Docia Generette-Walker of Middle College High School on being named Tennessee Principal of the Year! Docia Generette-Walker, who leads Middle College High School in Memphis, is honored at a statewide conference for educators. 10/21/2016

For the first time in nearly a decade, Tennessee has new science standards

Last week, The Tennessee State Board of Education approved a new set of science standards.

Learn more about the new standards and what to expect. The new science standards, which identify what students are expected to know at each grade level, will reach classrooms in the fall of 2018. 10/17/2016

Tennessee high school graduation rate rises

High school graduation rates are up statewide nearly 1 percent.

In Shelby County, graduation rates have risen from 72 percent to 75 percent.

Keep up the good work! It's a new state record since 2011. 10/07/2016

Chalkbeat: How do you fight chronic absenteeism? Put a nurse in every school.

Great summit highlighting Health Issues and Chronic Absenteeism, looking at the causes and identifying solutions! Many thank to all who were involved: University of Memphis School of Public Health, Memphis Branch of the NAACP, Shelby County Health Department, Latino Memphis and Operation: Safe Community. A staggering 44,000 Memphis students report suffering from a chronic health condition, contributing to the city’s high rate of students missing school.

Health Issues and Chronic Absence Summit 10/05/2016

Thank you so much to all our experts and participants for taking part in the Health Issues and Chronic Absenteeism Summit!

What a great way to discuss ideas, collaborate on best practices, and consider solutions to health barriers that keep our most vulnerable students out of the classroom.

A special thanks to our co-sponsors: Latino Memphis, Seeding Success, the Shelby County Health Department, the Memphis Branch of the NAACP, and Operation: Safe Community

Thanks also to Keynote Speaker, Angela Duran of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading!

Thank you so much to all our experts and participants for taking part in the Health Issues and Chronic Absenteeism Summit!

What a great way to discuss ideas, collaborate on best practices, and consider solutions to health barriers that keep our most vulnerable students out of the classroom.

A special thanks to our co-sponsors: Latino Memphis, Seeding Success, the Shelby County Health Department, the Memphis Branch of the NAACP, and Operation: Safe Community

Thanks also to Keynote Speaker, Angela Duran of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading!

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