Poverty is not a new crisis in the United States. When President Lyndon B. Johnson initially announced his campaign for a "War on Poverty" in 1964, the national poverty rate had risen to an alarming 19%.
Despite millions of dollars and purposeful attempts to address this national crisis, over the last 50 years the poverty rate has not moved significantly. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, in 2014 the national poverty rate was 14.8%, with the rate for those under 18 years of age reaching a shocking 21.1%. Additionally, these statistics showed almost no variation over the four previous years. In Memphis, specifically, poverty rates continue to climb. Now at a 12% higher rate than the national average according to a recent study by the University of Memphis, poverty affects an enormous number of individuals, especially children, in the MidSouth.
However, Dr. Marcella Wilson, President and CEO of Matrix Human Services, would argue that the continuation of this crisis is not due to a lack of effort, but rather to a lack of coordinated care. Her model, Transition to Success, emphasizes the importance of meeting an individual where they are, beginning with basic needs. Then an agency begins collaborating with other agencies in the network to provide the support, education and training an individual needs to reach his or her goals. Initially implemented in Detroit, the model has proven to be enormously effective. The following video details the stories of but a few individuals who are working the Transition to Success model.
Hope House's Director of Social Services, Maria Randall, learned of the model and quickly became interested in bringing it to Memphis. Her enthusiasm combined with the generosity of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis produced a visit to Memphis from Dr. Wilson herself. In the time of just over a year, over 20 organizations have committed to the Transition to Success Model and Network, participating in training and initiating the beginning stages of implementation. It is the hope of the entire network that the Transition to Success model will provide an unprecedented level of collaboration of agencies and care for clients. Hope House is proud to be one of the forerunners of Memphis' Transition to Success, eagerly awaiting the positive impact this model holds for the city of Memphis.