A Statement from Innovate Memphis


Innovate Memphis believes that Black Lives Matter and stands in solidarity with the international calls to end police brutality. We oppose injustice, cruelty, and systemic racism in all its forms.

We acknowledge the depth and breadth of the generations of inequities facing our communities. These racist systems are always at the root of the challenges we work to address, and we will never fully achieve our mission until these systems change. We commit to being an anti-racist organization and know that we have a long way to go to improve.

We work with those who seek to build new programs, policies and processes to serve Memphis, and we support them to bring new ideas to life, test them, and, hopefully, sustain them. A core principle of that work is the willingness to fail, but keep trying, in order to make things better. Another core principle is a bias towards action and valuing transparency.

As we do our work, we ask ourselves, what could a better, future Memphis look like? We know that a better Memphis requires equitable systems and better lives for our Black and Brown residents. We believe in action and transparency. We believe that Black Lives Matter. We will continue to work with partners who feel the same.

For those interested, here are some internal actions, as well as policy and program areas, where we’re working to build a more equitable organization and more equitable Memphis:

  • We will engage with partners who express a willingness for system-level change, and who will consider changes to processes, roles, leadership, resourcing, accountability, transparency and will adopt community-driven definitions of success.
  • We support and have worked on policy guidance and community engagement to increase transit funding and achieve the Transit Vision, a plan that would improve connections to jobs for low-income neighborhoods by 47%. 
  • We support parks, libraries and community center funding and are working on how to reimagine public assets to improve their value for nearby residents and neighborhoods.
  • We developed neighborhood violence intervention programs with mentors working directly with young people in an effort to prevent violence or intervene before law enforcement is necessary.
  • We support an increase in funding for affordable housing, and are working on programs to increase access to housing support services.
  • We will continue to support our low-income elderly residents and people living with disabilities to connect them to more mobility options and increase access to everyday necessities.
  • We will continue to support place-based organizations with the data that tells the story of decades and centuries of systemic racism.
  • We will elevate Black innovation, community problem-solving, and the future leaders of our city.
  • Throughout our work, we will work to better elevate and center voices and experience of residents, particularly Black and Brown residents, as Memphis is a predominantly Black city. 
  • We will finish our Equity at Work Action Plan and share the metrics on our website, so that all stakeholders can see what we are doing and hold us accountable. Our work will be to improve our Belongingness and Shared Voice, Shared Power practices.
  • We will improve the diversity of our staff and Board. Our staff is 45 percent people of color. Four years ago, our Board was 17 percent African-American. Today, it’s 36 percent African-American. None of this is good enough, but we will strive to do better and ask to be held accountable.
  • We will increase the amount of program materials and social media posts available in Spanish.

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