Tami will fight for Memphis youth to have opportunities that prepare them for school, life, and career success.

Current State


Memphis youth are among the most disconnected in the country. Nearly one in three Black youth 16-24 is either out of school or work. A child born into the bottom fifth income bracket in Memphis has only a 3% chance of moving into the top fifth, the lowest odds of any city in the continental U.S.


Only a third of students are performing on grade-level in our schools. Our students are not being met with the holistic supports they deserve, and our systems are not designed to give them what they need. Our schools are underfunded and our children are being shortchanged. Out-of-school programs in city community centers and libraries are not being adequately coordinated with schools to ensure the best results for young people.


In 2019, 10,000 young people applied for the city’s MPLOY youth summer jobs program, but only 1,750 positions are available. Research has found that quality summer jobs programs can help reduce violence and incarceration and improve academic outcomes, but we don’t see those kind of investments prioritized by our city.

What's Predictable​

If nothing changes, we can count on either more disruption in our schools or a complete divestment from our community in the effort to serve our kids. Our students will continue to be met with curricula that is not engaging and not relevant – to their culture, lives, or futures. Our teachers will continue to feel powerless and attacked. And in the end, our students’ opportunities will not expand.

What Tami Will Fight For Instead

Tami knows our youth are the most strategic bet we can make as a city and that they deserve great schools, welcoming, rigorous, and compassionate adults to guide their journeys, and holistic wrap around services that help them meet their short- and long-term goals.


Tami will fight for a city where every student in Memphis has the opportunity to achieve their dreams and where we can’t predict their life outcomes based on their zip code.

Tami's Youth Priorities

  • Create a city-wide competitive fund to support schools, classrooms, organizations, and programs that a) focus on new models of learning to prepare students for the 21st century economy, b) end the school-to-prison pipeline through reimagining resource allocation, discipline structures, and curricula in schools, c) improve literacy rates with both children before they enter school and with adults later in life, d) improve effective teacher retention rates and expand representation for special student populations such as Black men and Spanish speakers, and e) expand mentorship and apprenticeship programs for students 14+.

  • Strengthen the city’s current pre-K plan by ensuring it can be fully universal and is held to rigorous high-quality standards.

  • Increase out-of-school academic support and trauma responsiveness by improving programming and ensuring better coordination among schools, community centers, libraries, city & county agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

  • Ensure the city is a leader in identifying high wage, high growth career opportunities and influencing corporations to support the development of career pathways that connect our 16-24 year olds to those opportunities.

  • Stand up to a hostile GOP-led legislature and executive branch to fight and push back against voucher programs.

  • Invest in programs over the summer and year-round that support youth engagement, development, internships, and more that positively impact the trajectory of the lives of Memphis youth.


Paid for by Tami Sawyer for Mayor, Tim Ware, Treasurer