Memphis was selected as one of six cities to receive a $1 million grant from the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), with additional access to an estimated $90 million in foundation-backed capital.
The grant, awarded to the Memphis Partners for Resilient Communities, will specifically target the greater area of North Memphis, which has endured multiple rounds of disinvestment for decades now; whether in the form of industrial job loss or declining public transit that, in turn, restricts access to jobs, healthcare, and fresh foods.
Memphis Partners, an initiative comprised of North Memphis representatives, formed for the competitive application process, has stated their goals for the SPARCC funding and capital access include:
Institutionalize policies and practices that incorporate diverse racial perspectives into community planning and development projects
Promote investment patterns and strategies that result in equitable development outcomes for neighborhoods and their residents
Improve health outcomes for residents by enhancing connectivity to healthy food, health services, access to green space and trails, and quality affordable housing
Improve climate resilience of neighborhoods and the region through targeted home weatherization, repair, and improvement efforts
"In the past, policy and programmatic decisions about how to invest in the places we live, work, and play have all too often led to a deeper poverty and risk for people of color and low-income communities," said Melinda Pollack, a national partner with SPARCC.
The timing of the SPARCC initiative comes just ahead of major development projects surrounding North Memphis communities, including the massive mixed-use Crosstown Concourse, set to open in 2017, the anticipated $1 billion in new developments from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and in the Pinch District, which is slated to receive $40 million in infrastructure improvements under the City of Memphis' North Gateway Project.
SPARCC's grant and leadership support will help to ensure that equitable practice and policies accompany these major projects, so that all residents of economically depressed areas bordering major development will benefit as well.
The other cities to receive a SPARCC grant are Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
For grant-related purposes, North Memphis is defined as the area bordered on the north and the west by the Wolf River, North Graham on the east, and North Parkway/ Summer Avenue on the south.