VIDEO: NAACP, Kroger and The New Tri-State Defender team up to announce grant program

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Kroger, the Memphis Branch of the NAACP and The New Tri-State Defender are teaming up to announce a new grant program aimed at supporting Memphis and it’s surrounding communities.

The “Uplift Our Community” initiative was announced at a press conference Thursday morning at the NAACP headquarters on Vance Ave. Applications are now open at naacpmemphis.org.

“We are so proud to join with two well-established, historic, reputable organizations here in Memphis. Why not partner with these organizations to uplift our community,” said Teresa Dickerson, director of community relations for Kroger’s Delta Division. “This grant is just perfect for what we’re trying to do – not only in our company but in our communities. And we are inviting other businesses to join us.”

From the NAACP Memphis website:

Uplift the Community Grant

Attention all non-profits in the Memphis and Shelby County area!  Are you interested in having a positive impact on your community and need an “Uplift” to get you started?

The NAACP Memphis Branch, the New Tri-State Defender Newspaper and Kroger Delta Division present a new grant program called UPLIFT THE COMMUNITY.

This partnership will be an exciting opportunity for a cross-section of businesses and community organizations to come together in a positive effort toward equitable change in Memphis and Shelby County.

Grants will be awarded up to $10,000 to Memphis-based nonprofits. While the NAACP wouldn’t specify the number of grants or how large the fund is, NAACP Memphis Executive Director Vickie Terry smiled and said, “Kroger is contributing a very generous amount. I’m not going to say exactly how much, but it’ is a very generous amount.”

Announcing the new NAACP “Uplift the Community” grant program were (l-r) Karanja Ajanaku of The New Tri-State Defender; Vickie Terry and Deidre Malone, both of the Memphis NAACP; and Teresa Dickerson, a community relations director from Kroger’s Delta Division. (Photo: Lee Eric Smith)

The initiative focuses on three key areas: Improving the community, decreasing blight and decreasing crime. Terry emphasized that applications will be judged on their creativity and their innovation.

And Karanja Ajanaku, associate publisher and executive editor of the New Tri-State Defender, echoed a call for other businesses and entities to join in the effort.

“It’s important to note that there’s an ask for other businesses to get involved,” Ajanaku said. “A lot of the time, businesses are looking for ways to get involved in a way that takes the community forward. This program can be a vehicle for that.”

Last winter, Kroger came under fire from activists when the grocery giant abruptly announced it would close two Memphis stores in Orange Mound and South Memphis. At the time, activists chastised Kroger for leaving “food deserts” in their wake and demanded Kroger take a greater role in supporting their communities.

Dickerson acknowledged the criticism but said the seeds for Uplift the Community were planted long before the store closings.

“A lot of people don’t realize Kroger already donates more than $1.5 million through (our) Community Rewards (program) to nonprofits in this community,” Dickerson said. “We also support our area food banks through our donations.

“Yes, this time last year there was a situation,” she added, referring to the closings and corresponding protests. “But we are working with the people involved and we’re still working to try to help those individuals in Orange Mound.

“But this is something we’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “And we wanted to do it before (the controversy) last year. When the NAACP called, we thought, ‘This is perfect.'”

To download the application, visit naacpmemphis.org or click here. For more information, call the NAACP at 901