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WFN Member Spotlight: Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis

This week the U.S. honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through a national holiday. We thought it fitting to reflect on his legacy by marking the achievements of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis (WFGM), whose exemplary leadership has helped transform the community where Rev. King’s life ended too soon.

38126: Driving Local Economic Mobility Initiatives  

As a part of the Women’s Funding Network’s economic mobility initiative, WFGM focused on Memphis zip code 38126, an area with high concentrations of poverty. And during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, WFGM conducted a needs assessment that revealed a disproportionately adverse impact from COVID-19 among grantee partners serving families residing in Memphis’ poorest zip code, 38126: 

  • 50.2% of households did not have access to a computer or tablet with internet connectivity 
  • 57.4% of households have a chronic health condition  
  • 30% unemployment among Heads of Household (87% single women of color)  
  • 17% of households reported losing a job as a result of COVID-19 

WFGM quickly identified what families needed most and sprang into action. They collaborated with other nonprofit, health, and business entities to provide essentials needed during the COVID-19 crisis, like food and hygiene kits. More than 160 volunteers donated their time, distributing more than 70,000 pounds of food.  

Leading by Serving

A recent article in Memphis Magazine, Leading by Serving, highlights the leadership of Ruby Bright, President and CEO of WFGM. For more than 20 years, Ruby has brought her expertise and vision for the organization to bear in her collaborative approach to serving the community. 

The article also highlights a longtime WFGM partner, Urban Strategies, Inc., who played a key role in their COVID-19 Response Project. Eva Mosby, a former WFGM board member and current regional vice president at Urban Strategies, Inc., says they worked with the foundation to first determine the community’s most acute needs through an organized assessment. Urban Strategies then served as the people’s lead for the grant, working diligently with the foundation to serve 38126, demonstrating the power of local solutions and effective collaboration that women’s funds bring to the table when serving their communities.

“The Women’s Foundation stepped up and provided those services needed most. One of the biggest things for our families was being able to locate those immediate needs…from there, we worked with families to provide case-management services. Funds from WFGM help provide services to families that HUD will not allow — for instance, childcare, transportation, utilities — as well as more immediate and personal needs. We are both data-driven organizations. They can tell our story and we can tell their story as well.” 

Eva E. Mosby, Regional Vice President, Urban Strategies Inc.

WFGM COVID-19 Community Response Project

Ruby Bright (left) and Eva Mosby (right) work with a volunteer to assemble food packages for needy families.
PHOTO COURTESY WFGM / Memphis Magazine

Under Bright’s leadership, the organization continues their systems change work as well as hosting mobile food drives and other community services where eligible residents can receive food, face masks, resource information, and more.

Visit their website to learn more about available resources in your area or how you can support these vital efforts to transform a community from within.

Capacity Building Principles and Practice Member Bureau

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