This story is sponsored by Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

Justice means ensuring all communities are invested in properly and equitably.

On Nov. 17, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and MLK50: Justice Through Journalism will present a free, virtual event to discuss how we can continue to invest in our Black youth and students to make a more equitable Memphis. The “Why Memphis Needs More Black College Graduates” event hopes to spark more community action and investment in Memphis and its surrounding communities.

In Memphis, white residents are nearly three times more likely to have a college degree than Black residents. If Memphis responded adequately to this inequity, Memphis poverty rates could be reduced.

“Research shows that 97 percent of Memphians with a college degree are not living in poverty. If we can help more of our citizens pursue higher education, we can improve the city’s talent pool, drive its overall economy, attract more big business, and maybe most importantly, create more local businesses,” said Robert Fockler, Community Foundation president.

In an initial move to create transformational impact around this issue, in July the Community Foundation established a historic, $40 million endowment fund to support LeMoyne-Owen College, the city’s only Historically Black College and University.

To further the conversation, “Why Memphis Needs More Black College Graduates” will be
moderated by MLK50 editor and award-winning journalist, Wendi C. Thomas, and feature
panelists Dr. Carol Johnson Dean, LeMoyne-Owen College interim president; Beverly
Robertson, Greater Memphis Chamber CEO; and Robert Fockler. They will discuss the
impact of higher education on the Black community and the trajectory of Memphis, including the unique needs and challenges Black students face with post-secondary opportunities and securing jobs.

“The Community Foundation’s gift to LeMoyne-Owen College should be a springboard for further community investment in Black youth in Greater Memphis, but that’s just the beginning,” Thomas said. “We hope this crucial conversation will lead to solutions that address existing inequities, and consequently, positively impact the city.”

For more information or to reserve online spots, visit

The mission of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis is to strengthen the community through philanthropy. Founded in 1969, the Foundation last year awarded $163 million in grants to nonprofit organizations. The Community Foundation manages 1,200 charitable funds, with assets of $739 million. For more information, visit

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

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