What’s a 21st century Memphis kid to do?

We are celebrating making it to the final round of the XQ Super School Project with the Twelve Days of XTH! Each day we’ll release portions of our XQ application so you can learn more about the vision for Crosstown High. The content of this work is the foundation on which we will continue to build the high school, but we’ll need your help in the coming months to shape it into the school that Memphis students need and deserve.

The “Discover” phase of the XQ application asked us to uncover the major issues Memphis students deal with: 

What are your top three insights about the challenges facing your prospective students in the 21st century, both globally and in your community?


PERVASIVE POVERTY is killing kids’ futures before they begin. Many students in Memphis live in poverty and are profoundly challenged by the devastating separation and scarcity that it causes. Crosstown High (XTH) will be housed in Crosstown Concourse, a landmark, 1,100,000 square-foot historic adaptive reuse project that sits at the nexus of three socially distinct neighborhoods, where median household incomes range from $15,426 to $60,799. We have a responsibility to use the resources of this school to tackle the causes of poverty that impact so many young people in our vicinity.

STRUCTURAL INEQUITIES prevent true diversity within learning environments. Generations of Memphis youth have been segregated along lines of race and class, and the power of inertia is strong. We believe that Crosstown High can change that. We must create an environment that supports the needs of a wider range of students than is found anywhere else in Memphis. Unless we intentionally address the conditions of separation and scarcity that so many of our young people are experiencing, we will only reinforce them.

Schools are not consistently providing MEANINGFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCES that connect young people with their futures and their communities. Memphis youth need help to develop critical and creative thinking skills and to be fully connected to diverse communities where opportunities for growth exist. Few high schools in Memphis currently have ongoing programs that provide students the time and support to form real relationships with adults, pursue their passions, explore new things in a safe environment, or learn in a way that feels purposeful.

A sampling of the attachments to our XQ application:

Separation and Scarcity: University of Memphis law professor and native Memphian Daniel Kiel explores inequalities in local education (video)

Education Today (video)

Note: Some XQ application elements have been lightly edited for clarity or brevity.

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