Because families typically connect with M.O.S.T. when their children are eight years old and under, our relationships with the scholars and their parents/caregivers run deep. We quite literally watch them grow up, shepherding them from elementary school through high school.
When the first M.O.S.T. students graduated, we knew we wanted to stay in touch to have a sense of what they achieved with the educational foundation their scholarships provided. This provides important data to quantify the success of our program, but at this point in our relationship with the families, we also wanted to stay in touch with our friends.
At the end of the 2022-23 academic year (the most recent on record), M.O.S.T. had provided scholarships to more than 3,500 students. More than 95% of these students went on to complete a four-year degree program at a college, university, or trade program. This information is presented to our board in regular reporting at our quarterly meetings and to donors and the public in mailings, online messaging, and displayed on our website.
For many, their college diploma was a family first, and so too were the career options that came with it. We don’t have hard data on the number who stay in or return to Memphis after matriculation because it is impossible to track accurately, but the anecdotal evidence we get from our alumni is strong- of the many who stay in touch with us, a vast number intentionally commit to keeping their talent in Memphis and the Mid-South.
The opportunities opened by our scholarships position these graduates to succeed in their careers, but the ripple effect is bigger than that. In the tightest circle around the student, families are lifted up. But as it spreads, small businesses pop up on community streets, new clinics open their doors to serve local patients, sharp young lawmakers and activists start fighting for their neighbors in City Hall.
With almost 4,000 alumni, dozens of careers are represented by our former students, and many have chosen to stay in memphis to contribute to our city’s economy and culture in different ways.
Our partial needs-based scholarships help bridge the financial gap for families looking for educational options outside of their zoned public schools. The scholarships allow children to access schools best suited to meet their unique needs and thus unlock their true potential.
We recently caught up with alumnus Dr. Kyle Summers, a 2013 high school graduate who earned his biology degree at Christian Brothers University and completed his doctoral degree in biomedical sciences (neuroscience) from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center where he served as a post-doctoral fellow conducting neurotransmission research. Today, he teaches science at Memphis University School, a local private high school.
Here's an excerpt from his story, in his words:
“Public schools can be great. I just found it better for me to be in a smaller classroom setting. I'm not super outgoing, so the smaller school was really perfect for that. I also had a science teacher that had a doctorate in science. I think it was these experiences that influenced me to become a high school science teacher.”
“Through M.O.S.T. I was able to go to Catholic school, and afterwards I did not take any of my knowledge away from the city. I opted to go to college here in Memphis, opted to get my Ph.D. in Memphis, and opted to teach others and enrich this city because this is my home. Not to say I couldn't have made worthwhile contributions if I had not gone to private school, but I don't think my skills would have been maximized to do exactly what I’m doing.”
“I’d like M.O.S.T. supporters to know that contributing to this organization is not even only a donation. I would say it's really an investment in Memphis.”