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Memphis Daily News
Setting the Standard: Social Entrepreneurs With Heart
July 20, 2015
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

The greatness of a city does not lie in the size of its budget; rather, it is revealed by the size of the hearts of those who work to make it great for all citizens.

Entrepreneurship has long been a hallmark of that Memphis “can do” spirit. Every city on the move needs that to stimulate the economy, grow the marketplace and get to the next level. But there is more. Those with a heart for improving the quality of life for all citizens, a passion to make things better, to lift up others are the social entrepreneurs whose purpose in life contributes so much to making Memphis a great city.

Setting the Standard ( captures the essence of what Memphis is really all about, and its founders, Jeremy Calhoun and Alton Cyer, are living the social entrepreneurs’ dream of knowing that what they do matters. They are thankful for those in Memphis who believed in them, saw their potential and gave them time and opportunities to build a better life.

Despite their own struggles they graduated from high school and went to the University of Memphis. As juniors they, along with a group of friends, wanted to give back to boys and young men coming from their same experiences, and give them a hand up.

In 2012, they started STS with no funding, no office and no excuses not to succeed. It’s the very message they proclaim. They were full-time students, worked more than 30 hours a week, coached a junior high football team and mentored students in crisis. They used the money they earned to support their efforts.

The mission of STS is straightforward: encourage youth and college students to make excellence the norm.

After graduating from college, and securing good jobs, Jeremy and Alton expanded STS to include mentoring, community outreach, public speaking to schools and groups, and STS Elite, a college mentoring program.

They also met Kanesha Moore, a recent graduate of Spellman College who returned to Memphis to accept a job. She had a vision of strengthening and empowering girls and young ladies living in underserved areas of Memphis to beat the odds and reach their potential. Her program, GEMS (Girls Epitomizing the Means for Success), partnered with STS to expand the group’s outreach to all youth and young adults in Memphis who are in need of that Good Samaritan to help them get on the right track to lead a successful productive life and learn how to give back to the community.

STS also attracts volunteers from other parts of the country, like Olivia Calhoun, a recent college graduate from Florida who moved to Memphis to work and join STS in its mission.

The vision of STS is to inspire and motivate youth and young adults to exceed expectations, defy stereotypes and create a mindset that is transformative. They encourage unity in diversity to ensure strong moral leadership and productive citizens in Memphis for generations to come.

They are social entrepreneurs investing in Memphis.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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