The Memphis metro area was recently ranked 4th in a CNBC report on the most charitable cities in the U.S.; ours is a city crowded with non-profits but also filled to the brim with donors. When our efforts and impact catch the attention of a new donor who chooses to join our growing community of supporters, we take notice and are deeply grateful.
“I saw some literature about M.O.S.T. which led me to do a little research,” said Wiley Richards, who made his first gift to M.O.S.T. in 2023. “I saw that you guys did really good work. I was taken by what you do and what you offer to families and I felt a need to donate. I feel quality education is very important in our society, helping young adults to make the best decisions and have direction and focus, and what I learned about M.O.S.T. seemed like a really good match for what I was interested in supporting.”
Richards and his twin brother, Terrell Richards, are co-presidents of Memphis-based W & T Contracting Corporation, a company founded by their father Willie in 1997, which operates large-scale underground construction projects throughout the Mid-South. Their business relies on staying on the cutting edge of emerging technology and needs a local workforce with the right educational foundation.
“We work in an economic situation that is ever changing, and we need to take advantage of the newest technology,” said Richards. “A quality education is important for the employees in our line of work. It’s important for the decision-making adults in our community to provide the right kinds of opportunities for our young folks, and there are significant challenges affecting education in our area.”
In M.O.S.T., he found a time-tested model creating hundreds of education opportunities for local students every year, helping families across the Mid-South send their children to the schools best suited to meet their unique needs.
“We’re seeing a rapid pace of technological advancement in our industry. Things that were incredibly difficult in the past and would take a lot more man power, there are new technologies available to us now that have tremendously improved productivity and output,” said Richards. “We're working on some projects at the new Blue Oval Ford plant and the technology that we're able to utilize allows a lot of work to take place but it requires people who take have a certain level of education and hands-on experience with technology.”
“When Memphis kids are graduating with those math, science, and technology backgrounds that can only mean good things, not just for businesses like ours, but for the people who benefit from the projects that we do,” he adds. “Education really helps elevate the city for all of us.”
When that piece of M.O.S.T. literature made its way to Richards’ hands, he found an organization addressing his need for a well-trained workforce head-on, with 26 years of success to point to. Impressed by the fact that M.O.S.T. had already helped more than 3,600 students with private school tuition to date, boasting a 95%+ matriculation rate from a four-year college or university among M.O.S.T. alumni, Richards enthusiastically made his first donation in December.
“One of the things we do as a company is mentorship. We try to be active in young folks’ lives and mentor them in the right direction,” he said. “We like shaping the best and the brightest so we can work with the best and the brightest, and I could see that your organization does that, too. It’s important to develop our people in a way that produces the most productive and capable workforce possible, ready to best serve the society and make things better for the next generation.”