‘Huge lifestyle change’: How a Medical District program helped a Memphis mom get her dream job

Anjelica Parker had been wanting to work at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for more than a decade. When her first son, Donovan Coleman, now 16, was born, he had bad allergies and asthma that brought them to Le Bonheur regularly.

Parker’s love of kids and the care the doctors, nurses and other staff showed not only to her son but also to her made Parker sure it was the kind of place she wanted to be.

Memphis Medical District Collaborative helps people obtain jobs through Hire Local initiative

Throughout her career, the positions held by Latasha Harris have come with important benefits: Health insurance. Retirement plans. Professional development opportunities that lead to advancement.

Yet, as she’s acutely aware, not everyone has been so fortunate. In the Memphis Medical District, for example, the median household income is $19,125 — with 43% of residents living below the poverty line, according to an article Harris co-wrote for the Brookings Institute.

How a Memphis medical district is connecting residents to living-wage jobs

Memphis, Tenn.—home of the blues, soul, and rock and roll—is also home to significant economic, social, and cultural assets. One of these assets is the Memphis Medical District, a 2.6-square-mile area in the core of the city’s downtown that is working to ensure a more vibrant, prosperous, and equitable future for all Memphians.

However, there are significant barriers to achieving this future in one of the nation’s poorest metropolitan statistical areas—particularly for residents living in and around the medical district. Of these nearly 11,000 residents, 65% are Black, 43% of households live below the poverty line, and median household income is $19,125.

Hire Local 901 helps Memphians work closer to home

Madison Heights is an emerging Memphis neighborhood with some big advantages — thriving small businesses, throngs of commuters and charming architecture and trolley buses that feel like a step back in time. The neighborhood is also considered a consistent poverty tract according to the U.S. Census, and many of its residents lack personal transportation, are under- or unemployed and in need of jobs nearby.

Fortunately, Madison Heights is at the eastern edge of the Medical District in close proximity to Memphis’ major medical institutions and the employment opportunities they provide.