Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Promise Academy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Joe Birch

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Promise Academy

In a neighborhood in north Memphis, near Hollywood and Chelsea, a block exists where residents say drug dealers and hookers operate out of abandoned houses.

On a recent photo shoot for Taking Back Our Neighborhoods, while seeking to expose the illicit activity in the neighborhood, we found an oasis of care and learning with incredible promise.

Promise Academy, a charter school, operates in the old Hollywood Elementary.

"We just want to make a difference with these children," Principal Dr. Blakely Wallace said.  "We want these kids to have everything they deserve."

It's public education, from 7:30am to 4:30pm, with two more hours of child care if parents need it.  Students spend three and a half hours each day on language skills, and an hour and a half on math.

Founded by Rev. Colonzo Hubbard of Emmanuel Christian Center, and Memphis businessman Charles Gerber, Promise Academy offers sports banquets, character development and once-a-month field trips. It all happens just across the street from abandoned properties where some say squatting drug dealers have hung curtains.

People living in the neighborhood say drug dealers use the abandoned properties as a den to deal drugs in the wee hours of the morning.  No one was there when we stopped by.

"Once we step inside this building, we don't see the neighborhood around outside. We don't see the abandoned houses or the gangs," Wallace said.

We noticed Promise Academy's motto is "Rise Above."

"To have them 'rise above' and to be successful in any atmosphere or climate, and have exposure to all the elements so they can be successful anywhere," Wallace said.

Overcoming the challenges of its neighborhood, Promise Academy offers hope on a block that could use all the help it can get.

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