MEMPHIS, Tenn. — “If you want to make sure children are arriving at school engaged every day and ready to learn, you’ve got to deal with the external barriers, the out of school barriers,” Natalie McKinney said. “And that has to be dealt with in the community in which they live.”

Natalie McKinney is the co-founder and Executive Director of Whole Child Strategies. It’s a nonprofit organization providing funding and support for community-driven solutions.

Their focus is the Klondike and Smokey City communities due to urban divestment and economic exclusion. This is just one barrier many families must deal with.

“The only grocery store that services klondike and smokey city closed about two months ago,” Natalie McKinney said.

Vivian Bolden is a neighborhood champion for whole child strategies. She has lived in the Klondike community for twenty years.

“One of the needs of the neighborhood is transportation,” Vivian told us. “And that has to do with income.”

In response to the lack of transportation and access to fresh food, Whole Child Strategies partnered with MATA to help.

“We’re able to have Saturdays to the farmers market and then Tuesdays to cash saver and catholic charities,” Reginald Upshaw said.

Reginald Upshaw represents Smokey City as a neighborhood champion for whole child strategies, too.

“I want to make smokey city child friendly, Reginald said. “And I want to make sure the seniors feel comfortable. I want the sidewalks to be repaired. I want lighting. I want crosswalks.”

Our anonymous donor wanted to give Whole Child Strategies a thousand dollars.

Because they know what happens outside the classroom has a direct impact on what happens inside a classroom. They are a true community changer.

If you know an individual or organization making a difference, Corie would love to hear from you. Reach out to Corie via email or send her a message on social media.