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Creating hope and opportunity in Memphis through partnerships

Over the last few months, City Year Memphis and their local Starbucks partners—along with several other community organizations, businesses and volunteers—have embarked on a journey to support over 200 families at the historically significant Humes Middle School, known for its iconic architecture and, when it was a high school, the alma mater of Elvis Presley.

It began with a collaboration between City Year Memphis and their local Starbucks partner, Pete Sadler, district manager of Starbucks licensed stores in the Memphis area. Together, they coordinated a supply drive to support students and families experiencing housing and food instability in their community.

Identifying and addressing community needs

Starbucks worked with City Year to bring this idea to life through their local Starbucks/City Year “board,” a collection of local district managers, City Year Memphis Executive Director Robyn Ford and Senior Impact and Partnership Manager Yemiymah McLemore, to discuss areas of need in their community.

As Humes is part of the National Register of Historic Places and situated in one of Memphis’ most economically challenged areas, Pete and the City Year team decided it would be a powerful staging ground of their event and create, as Pete put it, a “beacon of hope” to continuing fostering the school community’s remarkable spirit of pride and resilience.

The original idea was to distribute food and clothing supplies to students and families on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as part of the AmeriCorps Day of Service in January. Unfortunately, freezing temperatures forced the group to reschedule.

Icon of a ringing bell partially covered by a transparent red capsule-shaped red overlay

 Check out this video about The Starbucks Foundation and City Year collaborating on a service project from MLK Day in 2023.  

Adapting a good idea into a better one

Using the extra time, City Year continued engaging Starbucks and this coalition of nonprofit and corporate partners to hold a series of events that gathered more donations. They were able to collaborate with various community partners such as Whole Child Strategies, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Kroger supermarkets, to gather donations and distribute them at Humes.

This delay ended up being a boon, giving the team an opportunity to create more supply boxes for families.

“Because we had more time to plan, and wait, and build ideas, what we thought would be a one-time idea took off and became something bigger,” said Yemiymah McLemore.

“We decided to find a way to make our service to the community more sustainable, which led to us collaborating with additional community partners.”

Forging strong community partnerships

Over the next several weeks, City Year Memphis collected and packed food, clothing, and toiletries for 200 families to be distributed at Humes during a parent-teacher conferencing event.

Leaders from the coalition of partners involved with the supply drive showed up in person to the distribution event, as City Year, Starbucks and Whole Child Strategies worked with school staff to showcase the amount of widespread support backing the students and families of Humes.

This holistic, community-oriented approach to supporting students in Memphis was a success, and Starbucks, Kroger, and local nonprofit partner Whole Child Strategies have already begun conversations with the CY Memphis team on how to continue holding similar supply drives in the future.

Happy National Volunteer Month!

We’re proud to celebrate all who worked to make the supply drive a success during National Volunteer Month this April, which coincides with Starbucks Global Month of Good.

If you or your organization want to partner with City Year to create a sustainable impact in your community, contact your local City Year site, reach out to National Corporate Partnerships & Strategy Vice President Melissa Cilley,, or check to learn more about our mission.

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