The New Tri-State Defender’s participation in the partnership with Kroger Delta Di- vision and the Memphis Branch NAACP was outlined by Associate Publisher/Exec- utive Editor Karanja A. Ajanaku). Also pictured: Teresa Dickerson, Cynthia Banks, Carol Jackson, Kermit Moore, Vickie Terry and Janine Heiner Buchanan. (Courtesy photo)

A Wednesday morning news conference at the NAACP Memphis Branch office kicked off big buzz around the 2nd Annual Uplift the Community Grant awards for non-profit organizations.

Applications are available now on the NAACP website.

A three-fold partnership between Kroger’s Delta Division, the Memphis NAACP, and The New Tri-State Defender launched inaugural endowments last year to four winners chosen from dozens of local applicants.

“We started Uplift the Community grant awards to empower nonprofits to support and uplift their communities,” said Teresa Dickerson, manager of Delta Corporate Affairs. “We are proud of our role in making these grants possible. It is very much in line with Kroger Delta’s role in the larger community as a good corporate citizen.”

The project is about helping non-profits already working to make a difference in their community, said The New Tri-State Defender Associate Publisher/Executive Editor Karanja A. Ajanaku.

“This is about stepping up,” he said. “Its about stepping up to help people who are already out there helping people with needs. That’s one of the great things I like about this. We’re going to step in to help people who are already stepping up.”

Vickie Terry, executive director of the Memphis Branch NAACP, said recipients will be chosen in three particular areas of community help: decreasing blight, decreasing crime and uplifting the community through families.

“Just as we did last year, we will be focusing on those same three areas,” Terry said. “But this year, we may be choosing six recipients because we might have more funding to work with. Each recipient last year was awarded $7,500, and there were four. The maximum amount an organization may apply for is $10,000.”

All applicants must have a 501(c)(3), non-profit designation from the Internal Revenue Service, and the organization must be located in Memphis.

Three of the 2019 recipients – Principles of Manhood, SafeWays Direct Blight Action Program, and Strong Tower, Staying Power – had representatives on hand to explain how the funding helped in achieving their objectives. A fourth, Building Blocks Mentoring Program, had a scheduling conflict.

Carol Jackson, director of Families Matter, which operates Principles of Manhood, said the organization’s mission is to strengthen the bond of families, change lives for the better and transform Memphis in the process.

“We work right here in the 38126 ZIP code… One of our most effective programs involves working with young men at Booker T. Washington High School who may not have positive, male role models. We were able to get men in there who help them know who they are, whose they are and what they can become in life,” she said.

“We work to feed the human spirit through education and mentorship. We appreciate all that the funding helped us to achieve last year.”

Cynthia Banks from East Trigg Baptist Church (Strong Tower, Staying Power) said the funding allowed the church to purchase a SkyCop Cam to improve the level of safety in their crime-challenged community.

“We were able to install a camera that monitors in three different directions: down East Trigg, Bellevue and down Neptune. We have a lot of functions, and we are concerned about residents in our community feeling safe, as well as our church members,” she said.

“We are located in the 38106 area (ZIP) code, and just having that cam has increased our level of security around our church and in our community. And we are so grateful for our Uplift the Community grant, which made it possible.”

Janine Heiner Buchanan, who represented the SafeWays Direct Blight Action Program, said the grant helped improved the environment in a section of the Frayser community.

“We have been operating since 2013, and we work to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in apartment complexes here. So, we were super excited about applying for the grant because we wanted to clean up the area around two low-income apartment communities. There was lots of graffiti, dumping and litter.

“We were able to partner with a wonderful organization called Lifeline to Success, and they took care of these issues,” she said. “The area was kept clean through the summer, and we were able to provide jobs for these young people. We are so grateful for the opportunity that funding gave us, and we are so excited to see that you’re going to be doing it again this year.”

Ajanaku said The New Tri-State Defender has created a periodic column called “Stepping Up!” to highlight the work of deserving non-profits that apply for the grants.

Organizations interested in applying for grants should go to: www.naacpmemphis.org, and print the application and requirements.

(For more information, call Terry at the NAACP office at 901-521-1343; email: [email protected])