Who We Are
empowering our youth
one student at a time
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Our Mission & Approach
The mission of UCAN of Memphis is to impact young adolescents through mentoring, workforce readiness, and bullying awareness training which will bring forth a positive growth in the community.
Our goal is to teach social responsibility and conflict resolution, provide soft skills training for job retention, and provide effective training programs that will increase the ability to be successful communicators and citizens. The zip codes in which we service include 38107, 38109, 38115, 38116, 38118, 38125, all of which have a demonstrated need for career readiness and conflict resolution training.
During a school year, we are able to reach 78 teens, operating in 6 schools in the Shelby County School System. Our goal is to mentor teens and build positive self-respect, support efforts of leadership training and provide educational programs that emphasize work-based learning and soft skills development. We help to prepare teens for future employment and become engaged positively in their community. Our efforts have been successful in increasing awareness of the power of a positive self-respect, through mentoring and coaching life skills. Our programs heavily emphasize anti-bullying tactics, with tips and guidance tailored creatively to meet the needs of the teens.
UCAN of Memphis (You Can Achieve Now) Co-Founder and Executive Director Leshundra Robinson made it her mission to return to her former neighborhood in North Memphis to make a difference. She decided the best way to leave a larger imprint would be to form an organization dedicated to serving youth where she grew up.
Her best friend Ms. Kight’s son and Ms. Robinson’s son played basketball together for AAU at the Hollywood Community Center. There was a young man who played on the team who was not showing much sportsmanship. He was a great player but he brought negativity to the team. He was rebellious to the coach and disruptive to the game; however, he had great potential but needed some guidance. Once Ms. Kight sat down and talked to the young man she realized he was feeling isolated because he didn’t have anyone there to support him like the other team players. There was no one there to cheer him on and he felt slighted. He was also having issues at school and at home that he couldn’t tell anyone. They then decided to be his support system and help him find resources that he needed to be successful. At the end of the season, he received MVP and Most Improved. When Ms. Kight and Ms. Robinson went home they said, “If we can make a difference in one child, imagine what we can do with others.”
Kight & Robinson then decided to form an organization that could do just that. Many names were discussed, but the one that stood out was UCAN, which stands for You Can Acheive Now. They believe, with some guideance and support, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. It doesn’t matter the zip code or the economic background you have, we all have a chance to make a difference and it starts now.
What We Do
Blazers & Pearls
The Blazers and Pearls program offers low-income students ages 12-19 the opportunity to expand their horizons by empowering them to build positive self-respect through group mentoring in the Mid-South. Our focus is social emotional learning, conflict resolution and preparation for college and career readiness.
We are an Olweus Bullying Prevention Trainer. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) incorporates what researchers and practitioners have identified as best practices in bullying prevention and intervention.
The Youth in Memphis CANNOT be Ignored!
We cannot afford to ignore the voices of our youth in Memphis, which is why we are leveraging on our experience in bullying prevention and leadership development to get as much youths as we can reach in the Mid-South involving bullying and leadership.
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Dollars Raised (2022)
Our financial goal is to raise $250k, over the next 2 years, in which to add additional staff provide training to teachers and parents regarding bullying awareness, and open a neighborhood location in the North Memphis area.
Our goal is to partner with underserved schools whose desire is to invest change in the culture of student leadership, character development and life skills through quality mentorship.
Avg. Students Per School
Average number of students in the Memphis area that participate in our in-school programs
With the help of funding, we are able to increase our student participation through school partnership, community workshops and events.
Your Donations Make a HUGE Impact
We are currently looking for a location that students may come to for additional help on interviewing techniques, how to deal with conflict resolution and other aspects of young adults’ social and emotional needs, outside of the school environment.
A Letter from the Board
On behalf of the board, the many volunteers, and most importantly, the youth of UCAN, THANK YOU for taking the time to get to know a little more about who we are and what we do. UCAN has been a staple organization in what is considered “underprivileged” areas of Memphis. We believe that all of our youth deserve the proper resources needed in order to advance in school, their community and their lives as a whole. That’s where we come in.
UCAN is an independent 501c that depends solely on volunteers, donations and grants. Without YOU there would be no UCAN. Funds are distributed to our programs for middle and high school students. These funds are used for various reasons, including: purchasing laptops for our high school students and graduating 8th graders, the in-school 7 month program which is at no cost to the school, field trips, snacks for students in the program, incentives for students attendance, purchasing blazers, pearls and t-shirts for the students, graduation, the yearly Dare 2 Dream Conference, and Summer Teen Talk Session.
We firmly believe in being hands-on and having our in-school programs allows us to be just that…right in the center of the lives of our youth.
Now how can you be involved? We are actively looking for volunteers, mentors and professionals in the city to come out and speak to our students, teach them a skill or simply take time to talk to them and listen…
Once again, thank you for taking the time to visit our website and hopefully we will hear from your soon!
Best wishes and many thanks,
LeShundra Robinson – Co-Founder/President