Memphis Ambassadors Program celebrates 10 years of helping youth succeed

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Ambassadors Program is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and over the last decade, they’ve seen thousands of kids like 15-year-old Destini Rainer reach success.

“She’s been with us for two years. You start seeing them blossom, you start seeing them find their own ways through life.”

Rainer was one of the first students involved in an 8th grade program that started in 2017. She said since then her life changed completely.

“I didn’t like being around a lot of people. I wasn’t communicating the way I should’ve been with my peers.”

By 2018, she became what the city likes to call an ambassador of the program. The main goal is to help Memphis high schoolers prepare for college and beyond.

As ambassadors they work on projects ranging from public speaking to critical analytical thinking and even social and emotional learning.

“MAP has molded me into the person that I am today. First community service. I did not know that I was going to love community service the way I did. I didn’t know I was going to love helping people.” she said.

“It’s hard to run a youth program because we have to keep students involved,” said MAP Manager Marquis Robinson. “We have to keep being innovative. We have to keep being creative. When you think you have one thing figured out, something else happens.”

That something else was COVID-19. Moving forward program activities will look much different but the city’s Officer of Youth Services has created a new experience to keep the youth engaged this summer by going virtual.

“We must open every positive avenue possible to guide our young people.”

Ike Griffith is the director for Memphis Youth Services. As he thinks about MAP’s 10th anniversary he thinks of how he can help more youth get the opportunity to work in places they can grow and learn.

In order to do that, he needs the city’s businesses to step up.

“I have a small budget that really gives about 2,000 children the opportunity to work over the summer but I have about 10,000 students to apply for summer jobs,” he said.

With jobs and MAP he says the sky for the youth involved is the limit.

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