Crews Family Foundation Invests $500,000 in UofM's River City Partnership

May 17, 2018 - The University of Memphis College of Education received a $500,000 commitment from Hilliard Crews and the Crews Family Foundation to support the River City Partnership. The funds will be used to provide scholarships for students participating in the program, which aims to address the most critical challenges facing Shelby County Schools, including the lack of a pipeline of highly-skilled new teachers, poor teacher retention rates and the need to equip teachers with greater cultural awareness.

"I am happy to be a part of this program and to lend my support to my alma mater as the College of Education and Shelby County Schools have together created a partnership that looks to address two major issues in education – teacher shortages and teacher retention," said Crews."Our kids deserve the best education possible."

A longtime supporter of the UofM and a strong advocate for public education, Crews has previously supported a number of innovative teacher preparation programs, including Teach for America, Memphis Teacher Residency and New Leaders for New Schools.

The University of Memphis has secured more than $3.5 million of the total $7 million needed to sustain the River City Partnership, which places a unique emphasis on identifying and preparing educators from underrepresented groups, including African-American males and Latinos.

"The River City Partnership is one of the most important initiatives the University has undertaken in recent years, and it has the potential to have a tremendous positive impact on our city," said UofM President M. David Rudd. "Building a brighter future and promoting lasting change in Memphis will require thoughtful investments in strengthening our K-12 education system. I'm grateful to Hilliard Crews for his support, which will ensure UofM can help encourage lasting improvement in our classrooms and our community."

Dr. Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of the UofM College of Education, said, "We are excited to launch the River City Partnership with Shelby County Schools. Our primary goal for this program is to increase the number of students who graduate from area high schools, attend the UofM and then return to Shelby County Schools to put their training to work inspiring children to develop a lifelong love of learning. We sincerely appreciate Mr. Crews' generosity and support for this transformative and groundbreaking endeavor."

The River City Partnership will offer several initiatives designed to help improve retention, including an Induction Institute that offers seminars to help new hires learn about issues such as student poverty and culturally-responsive teaching; a Principal-Teacher Support Plan to promote continued professional growth; mentoring and coaching by UofM site coordinators; and best practices workshops.

The River City Partnership will also encourage teacher candidates to intentionally select the urban education pathway, creating deep partnerships with local schools and implementing high school teacher cadet programs to build an early interest in teaching as a career.


Chuck Gallina | 901.678.1756 l cgallina@memphis.edu