In the summer of 2016, we analyzed the workforce development space, with a particular emphasis on exploring how to better serve those young adults, ages 18-30 who have been out of work and school. In that process, our team met with more than 20 organizations in Memphis and over 100 young adults.  The findings of that report led to the creation of this initiative.  

While there are numerous K-12 programs in Memphis, there are far fewer opportunities for young adults to receive intensive support. Furthermore, many solutions focus on one element of the challenges we face – education or workforce development or health / mental health or life planning and coaching. There is a significant need for a more holistic approach that includes coordinated service delivery focused on the array of challenges and needs faced by young people struggling to escape poverty. We also found that in today’s market, young adults must obtain a post-secondary credential in a field with job opportunities and growth, in order to get to a living wage ($15+/hour).

The Collective was developed out of this initial research. Poverty alleviation is at the core of our mission. The plan and vision were developed in the fall of 2016. In the spring of 2017, The Collective was officially sponsored as an initiative under Community LIFT, a community development intermediary in Memphis. The Collective has hired a core team, and is launching its programs in fall 2017.