Advance Memphis Begins Research on Banking and Savings Habits in South Memphis

Memphis, TN – August 23, 2017 – Advance Memphis is very excited about a multi-year research study that was developed and started this summer by Josh Fikkert, an intern from Covenant College. The study will evaluate the long-term impact of Individual Development Accounts (IDA). IDA is one of the programs utilized by Advance Memphis and used around the country to stimulate savings, banking, and asset purchase as a means to financial stability for people who may be working, but remain trapped in poverty.  Most studies currently available on the effectiveness of IDA only follow participants for about six months after purchase, and tend to focus exclusively on asset acquisition. This new study will attempt to follow and compare our participants in Work Life, who receive little financial literacy training; Faith & Finances, who receive very specific training in financial management; and IDA participants, who actually enter into a matched savings and asset purchase program. The study will compare saving and banking habits of the groups for up to two years after they complete the programs. The study specifically asks two questions: (1) “Are Faith & Finances and/or IDA participants more likely to demonstrate long-term savings behavior?” and (2) “Is IDA participation positively correlated with long-term banking habits?”. Saving and banking are factors that contribute to financial stability in peoples’ lives.

Sylvia Turner recently opened an IDA at Independent Bank to save for start her own daycare business.

A presentation that introduces the research study and provides anecdotal information based on recent interviews can be found here: Evaluating the Impact of Individual Development Accounts on Savings Habits and Banking Relationships.

Josh Fikkert, a senior at Covenant College, is a Community Development and Philosophy major. We are thankful for Josh’s work this summer as an intern and for our continued relationship with Covenant College and the Chalmers Center at Covenant College. The Chalmers Center is a non-profit that works to equip churches and organizations to declare and demonstrate to the materially poor that Jesus Christ is making all things new. Advance Memphis has hosted numerous interns from Covenant College’s Community Development major over the years and is grateful for its ongoing relationship with the Chalmers Center as a training partner, a field-test site for curriculum development, and as a co-developer of the Work Life curriculum.

Advance Memphis will be looking for volunteers and interns to help gather and collate data from interviews and surveys of over two hundred program participants in the next several years to ensure study efficacy. If you would like to participate in any of our programs or help facilitate the study please contact Bryce Stout at


2016 Outcomes Report

Pictured: Edwin, Treniece, Kia, Willie. GED graduates

As 2016 ends, the staff members of Advance Memphis are grateful to be serving the Lord by empowering our neighbors in 38126 to move into financial security through the multiplied efforts of almost 300 volunteers and dozens of donors who have joined us in this work.

Below you will see just a few tangible outcomes that only scratch the surface of how God has been transforming lives in our community. The outcomes that are more difficult to quantify are things like: A 40-year-old man who opens his first bank account to start his matched savings account; the woman who has stopped drinking; the man who can now support his children with dignity by working; the woman who earned her GED; and the man who has regained his driver’s license.


  • 82 neighborhood adults have completed the Work Life program with a 72% graduation rate.
  • 15 students have earned a GED/HSE diploma.
  • 121 students participated in GED training in 2016

Give to Advance Memphis


  • $1,036,000 was earned in gross wages by employees of Staffing and Outsourcing programs.
  • 106,000 hours were put in by Staffing and Outsourcing workers to earn those wages.
  • $9.75 is approximately the average hourly wage earned across all jobs and workers
  • 25 local businesses utilized our staffing agency and provided work for outsourcing.
  • 32 adults earned Forklift certifications, opening new doors for employment. This is  more than double the number of certifications from 2015.


  • 33 participants completed Faith & Finances training (a 50% increase), and 22 new IDA’s – matched savings accounts – were opened (an 83% increase).  We now have 25 total open and active IDA accounts. 7 participants purchased an asset through their IDA this year.
  • 18 participants completed LAUNCH entrepreneurship training. 59% of all LAUNCH alumni are still operating businesses.
  • An estimated $204,000+ in gross revenue has been earned by the top 10 LAUNCH entrepreneurs in 2016.
  • We now have 3 leasing tenants in our warehouse space, and are supporting 12 Outsourcing and Customer jobs in the warehouse
  • This year we had 2,710 hours of Outsourcing work, taking place mostly at our Warehouse.


  • We had 299 different volunteers partner with us for 3,834 hours in serving the 38126 community this year, and could not have done this work without you!

Renewal in 38126 takes many forms, and while this outcomes report shows just one year of our work, the transformation of our neighborhood and the empowerment of our neighbors is a process.

HEALING: This year we saw a graduate of our 2014 Jobs-For-Life ( now called Work-Life) program find stability and success in a position after years of battling to find and sustain employment. After two different temporary assignments working through Advance Memphis Staffing in temp-to hire positions, this individual had been let go both times due to failing drug tests. While he was on mandatory suspension he began attending OTC (Overcoming Through Christ) weekly meetings at Advance. After a second suspension, his presence in became OTC mandatory. After that, he never missed a weekly meeting and volunteered his time cleaning the building and helping out with refurbishing our new warehouse at 575 Suzette. He continues to make weekly OTC meetings and is currently participating in a paid apprenticeship program with yet another temporary staffing customer. This individual started his current assignment in June, 2016 and has maintained perfect attendance – winning our $50 reward on two separate occasions. We continue to pray for his success and often recognize him as a role model for others who are struggling with sobriety. He has never given up his desire of being drug free and working to sustain his financial needs.

COLLABORATING: We also have seen relationships blossom with our volunteers and graduates working together, forming lifelong friendships, and even business partnerships. Two volunteers worked together to find particularly creative ways to contribute to the development of a LAUNCH business. Not only did they contribute significant time to mentor a LAUNCH graduate; they decided that they could most effectively support his business by using their own vocational resources. Namely, these volunteers used their skills and connections to train this graduate to write bids for commercial properties, and then contracted his business to work on properties they manage, becoming his first major customer. This creative, relational engagement is worth so much more than a monetary gift; it is more difficult and complex, but it truly changes the game for one of our neighbors.

Want to join us? Here are a few ways to partner in this work:

  • The Advance Memphis Warehouse is providing job coaching and employment right here in the neighborhood, through outsourcing work and our leasing tenants. Support this work through prayer and business referrals.
  • Relationships are the key to the work we do. Mentors in most of our core programs provide relational support that changes lives. Support this work by volunteering as a Champion (day, Work Life), Ally (evening, Faith & Finances), or entrepreneurial mentor (evening, LAUNCH). Support this work by volunteering. Email:




2016 Involvement Guide: Join Us!

2016 Involvement Guide ImageAs you plan and dream for ways to learn, grow, and serve in 2016, please consider using our 2016 Involvement Guide as a resource. Those who pray, give, and serve at Advance Memphis are the lifeblood of this work. The Guide contains class schedules, contact information, and volunteer roles–everything you need to make a plan to share your gifts in a way that blesses others and fits your life. We created this guide because we need roughly 240 volunteers every year, many of them in the highly relational roles that are essential to our programs. These volunteers are truly the body of Christ at work in Memphis. We thank you for considering ways you can get involved this year. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 2016 ADVANCE MEMPHIS INVOLVEMENT GUIDE.


2015 Advance Memphis Outcomes


Advance Memphis program grads and employees of the Staffing Program are seen here completing an Outsourcing project in the new Advance Memphis Warehouse, just blocks from our offices and classrooms on Vance.

In 2015, Advance Memphis, powered by 240 volunteers, 15 staff members, dozens of donors, and an incredible community of participants, operated programs that empowered the people of 38126 to move into financial security.

Below, you’ll see just a few of the tangible outcomes of the work this community did this year. There are many more life changes that are less easily measured: the 40 year old who opens his first bank account, the woman who stopped drinking, the man who proudly supports his children, the woman who earned her GED, the man with a drivers license and a new job.

THIS is how our Lord will “undo the straps of the yoke to let the oppressed go free.”


  • 80 participants will complete job readiness training through Work Life.
  • 61 participants received 12+ hours of GED/HSE instruction and 6 participants received their GED/HSE. The new, more difficult test is causing a nationwide decrease in pass rates. More info about this change:
  • 18 students received higher-ed counseling. 10 enrolled in courses or training.


  • 165 counseling sessions were held, with 17 clients attending 3 or more sessions.
  • 15 crisis counseling sessions were provided.
  • 72 graduates attended 3 or more addiction recovery meetings this year.
  • 40 participants will complete Anger Management training.


  • 73 graduates have been hired into temporary positions. 25 graduates have been hired into temp-to-hire positions. The average starting wage was $9.01, almost 25% above Tennessee’s minimum wage and 20 cents above our 2014 average starting wage.
  • YTD, graduate employees of our Staffing Program have earned gross wages of $1,236,000.
  • 199 graduates have been rehired after a period of unemployment.
  • 13 graduates have received fork lift certification


  • 18 participants completed Faith & Finances training and 10 new matched saving accounts (IDAs) were opened. 12 people have been saving in their IDAs consistently for 6+ months. 3 participants purchased an asset using their IDAs.
  • 12 participants completed LAUNCH entrepreneurial training. 64% of LAUNCH alumni are still operating businesses; 2 new businesses were registered  in ‘15.


  • The new Advance Memphis Warehouse (pictured above) is already providing job coaching and employment right here in the neighborhood. There is much more to come next year. Support this work through prayer and business referrals.
  • Relationships are the key to the work we do. Mentors in most of our core programs provide relational support that changes lives. Support this work by volunteering as a Champion (day, Work Life), Ally (evening, Faith & Finances), or entrepreneurial mentor (evening, LAUNCH). Support this work by volunteering. Email:

 Volunteer hours, donations, and prayers are essential.  Get involved using the information below.

GIVE: Mail to  PO Box 2201, Memphis, 38101 or go to



Supply Drive 2015

2015 Val Supply Drive with background

 It is time again to share the LOVE and participate in the Advance Memphis Supply Drive! Last year, generous supporters helped us raise almost $5,000 in supplies and testing fees.

 Each year 100+ Advance Memphis participants make choices and take steps to move forward with their educational and professional goals, such as:

  • Completing the Jobs for Life soft-skills job training class and going to work.
  • Learning important personal finance tools and opening a matched savings account to purchase a car.
  • Persevering to earn their high school equivalency, gaining access to better jobs and further education via college. 
While supplies may not seem like that big of deal, they are a necessity to our programs, and the cost of them can add up quickly. The Supply Drive is an easy way to contribute in a meaningful, tangible way! We are looking for Team Leads to help make the Drive happen. This can be done by emailing friends and gathering supplies, putting some flyers (which we will provide) on the wall in a break room or a Sunday school room, or in any way that your creativity may lead you. The supplies we’re looking for are: Kleenex, Sticky notes, Ballpoint pens, Reams of copy paper, White board markers and erasers, and Checks to cover GED/HSE testing fees. If you would like to be a Team Lead for the Drive or want more information, contact Kate.