CA: Forbes honors 2 Memphis education reformers
In a crowded local education reform landscape, two Memphis twenty-somethings earned the national honor this week of a spot on Forbes’ 30 under 30 in education.
Mendell Grinter, founder and executive director of Campaign for School Equity, and Hardy Farrow, executive director of Let’s Innovate through Education, were named to the list Tuesday. Forbes selected 600 people from 15,000 nominations for the lists in 20 different industries.
Grinter, 25, called the honor humbling and said it validates the work he came to Memphis to do.
Grinter, a Kentucky native, was formerly the executive director of the Memphis chapter of the Black Alliance for Education Opportunities. When the national group restructured last summer, Grinter said he still saw an opportunity for advocacy work on education issues in Memphis. He formed the Campaign for School Equality, which advocates for issues like school vouchers for low-income students but also teaches students about advocacy work. The group is hoping to expand past BAEO’s focus on the state-run Achievement School District and to support students in all the local school districts.
“We really care to focus on all of our children here in Memphis, specifically those of color, but really trying to work amongst all of our districts to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible,” he said.
Farrow, 26, arrived in Memphis four years ago through Teach for America and taught at Power Center Academy for two years.
“I recognized a lot of my students lacked opportunities for scholarships, lacked opportunity to kind of think about where they’re heading in their life,” Farrow said. He was also aware of the need for more minority-owned businesses in the city, particularly ones with more than a single employee. While teaching at Power Center, Farrow created Let’s Innovate through Education, which helps students develop business and entrepreneurship skills. The program now acts as an incubator for students for a full decade, following them through college and providing start-up funds for their businesses when they graduate.
“If you want to grow wealth and you want to empower communities from within, think of how to tailor that to people’s interest and give them the capital that they need,” he said.
In a Memphis education community bustling with third-party organizations and initiatives, Grinter and Farrow said they hope their work is integral to the reform movement.
“I hope that we just find ourselves in the center,” Grinter said.