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  • Work Works at Tennessee Faith-Based Organization

    In 1999, the Memphis zip code ranked as the third poorest in the country. Home to the Cleaborn and Foote housing projects, unemployment sat above 70 percent. Almost 50 percent of the community lacked a high school degree. Drugs and gangs plagued the community, and most residents had dim prospects of rising out of persistent poverty.

    In this environment, Steve Nash founded Advance Memphis in 1999. Recognizing the need for a friendly face and a chance at self-sufficiency, Nash started driving around Memphis’s worst communities trying to personally connect with residents and connect them to work opportunities. Advance Memphis has since expanded its ministry significantly, currently served by nine full-time staff members and numerous volunteers and business partners from the community. Despite its growth, the organization has maintained its individual focus and commitment to teaching Memphis residents the financial and personal rewards of employment.

    Students start with the Jobs for Life program, a six-week soft skills job training class. Local business professionals teach responsibility, communication, literacy, computer skills, interviewing techniques, and resume construction and tutor participants for the GED exam. During the Jobs for Life program, Advance Memphis also teaches a financial freedom class, giving students the skills they need to make responsible financial decisions after they graduate. Graduates have the opportunity to open Individual Development Accounts, which encourage them to save and build an asset base.

    Advance Memphis does not end the relationship with its clients after graduation but offers a staffing service, jobs at the organization, and off-site work with partner organizations. So far in 2011 alone, 60 graduates from the Advance Memphis program have found jobs, 53 people have graduated from the Jobs for Life program, and three students have earned GEDs.

    Nash credits the success of Advance Memphis to the organization’s emphasis on work and understanding the necessity of employment in achieving self-sufficiency: “This is the key to seeing a life change. When you have a high-profile drug dealer working and holding a job for the first time in his life, that is a positive witness for change.”

    Advance Memphis is helping individuals in Tennessee escape a generational cycle of poverty by restoring opportunities for work, not merely increasing handouts. Likewise, effective anti-poverty outreach and policy should begin with a correct understanding of the causes of poverty, which are rooted more in social and relational breakdown than mere material need.

    As Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield write in a recent paper, policymakers should acknowledge the actual living conditions of the poor and the root causes of poverty in order to more effectively allocate resources to those most in need.

    Dorothy Williams currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/internships-young-leaders/the-heritage-foundation-internship-program


    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Work Works at Tennessee Faith-Based Organization

    1. Bobbie says:

      it's the people that make America and each other great!!! Not government! God bless the students!!!!
      Bless your good work Mr. Nash and all who partake!!!!!

    2. JamesJohnsonCHR says:

      Thanks Heritage and Dorothy Williams, for this inspiring report on Steve Nash's amazing work for the communities of Tennessee.

      There are many communities throughout the world, including Australia that could benefit from copying Steve Nash's positive energies and methods.

      Unfortunately, we live in a time where we (and recent generations) have let Government become too big. So big that our Governments have waged cold civil wars using economics including taxes, welfare and regulation, combined with media and legal systems to suppress the wills of many once strong pillars of our communities – including Church, Community Groups, Family and Individual initiatives.

      It is increasingly hard for Individuals, Families, Community Groups and Churches to find the strength of will and economics to undertake these sorts of projects.

      It is up to every one of us, as individuals and as part of family, community and church groups, to become engaged in our societies and identify and work to reform problems like the ones that motivated Steve Nash to action – problems that exist in all of our communities.

      Leaving it up to government, the State, just leads to greater civil dis-engagement and self-alienation, the path to soul-less-ness – and gives further ground to big Government to grow bigger (more taxes spent inefficiently) further weakening other social institutions that we need to be re-invigorating, not further deteriorating.

      Steve Nash gives us all an example that despite the difficulties of our times, and despite our governments being 'here to rule' NOT 'here to help', we should not give up on our humane responsibilities to our neighbors, friends and families – if we do we are really giving up on ourselves.

      James Johnson
      Independent Federal Candidate for Lalor
      Australian House of Representatives

    3. tiffany says:

      Advance is shining it's light brightly here in Memphis!

    4. Thomas M. Nash says:

      Mother and Iare so thankful that God has put it upon your heart to do the work of the Lord in the inner city of Memphis. We love you son.

    5. Definitely imagine that that you stated. Your favourite reason appeared to be at the internet the simplest thing to take into account of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while other people think about issues that they plainly do not understand about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing with no need side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

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