International Paper Invests $1 Million in University of Memphis’ River City Partnership

November 27, 2018 - International Paper has made a $1 million commitment to support the River City Partnership, a collaboration between the University of Memphis, Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District. The River City Partnership is an umbrella initiative intended to strengthen the teacher pipeline by introducing high school students to a possible career in education, preparing teachers at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and implementing retention strategies for new and existing teachers.

"We are grateful for International Paper's generous commitment in support of the River City Partnership," said UofM President M. David Rudd. "This work is only made possible through investments from key partners like International Paper that have stepped forward to ensure that we create the best possible outcomes in the classroom for the next generation."

Through the River City Partnership, the University of Memphis' College of Education will partner with Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District to create a new model for teacher preparation in urban education. This includes recruiting teachers from local communities, co-creating new curricula focused on urban education, and providing early hands-on classroom experiences for teacher candidates -- with a particular focus on high-need/high-poverty schools.

"International Paper is proud to partner with the University of Memphis in support of the River City Partnership," said Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, International Paper Foundation Executive Director. "We believe this initiative meets a critical need for Memphis by ensuring a steady pipeline of well-prepared, culturally competent teachers."

"We are excited to launch the River City Partnership with Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District. This transformative, groundbreaking initiative has the potential to have an impact on children in classrooms and also on families and the broader Memphis community," said Dean Kandi Hill-Clarke of the College of Education. "We sincerely appreciate International Paper's generosity and support and look forward to our partnership as we work to prepare equity-minded, culturally-competent teachers."

Other initiatives under the River City Partnership umbrella include the high school Teacher Cadet Summer Bridge program and I Am A Man...I Teach. The Summer Bridge Program is a one-week, residential program for rising high school seniors to explore teaching as a career option as well as receive ACT test preparation support. The I Am A Man...I Teach initiative is designed to address the dearth of male teachers of color, particularly in K-5 classrooms, by specifically targeting, recruiting and providing wrap-around support through a cohort-based program.