A Brief History of JIFF

JIFF was established March 2003 as an organization in Memphis specifically serving juvenile offenders in an effort to break the repetitive cycle of crime and offer hope for a productive future.

Our Vision – To see youth flourish, free from a life of crime

Our Mission – To break the destructive cycle of juvenile crime, through Christ centered intervention.

JIFF originated as the Memphis branch Youth for Christ, an organization dedicated to Campus Life clubs, Urban Ministry, and Youth Guidance.  Youth Guidance dealt with juveniles who were involved with the justice system.

Rick Carr, with a background in corrections ministry, joined Mid-South Youth for Christ in August 2000. At the time, Memphis had extremely high crime and juvenile recidivism was at an all-time high.

Most local programs were either therapeutic or preventive and little attention was being given to intervention. JIFF began targeting smaller numbers of youth so that more time and energy could be devoted to each child and his/her family.  Carr convinced Juvenile Court to refer young offenders to the program.  With more emphasis on intervention,  the board began to recognize that JIFF did not fit the YFC model.  So with unanimous board support, JIFF was formally launched as a separate entity in March 2003.

Collaborative Program Model — To address and reduce juvenile crime and violence in the Mid-South and increase its impact, JIFF entered into a formal collaborative agreement with Memphis Leadership Foundation and Urban Youth Initiative,  and secondary partners: Christian Psychological Center, Youth Villages, Christ Community Health Services, Church Health Center and Agape Family Services. The goal was and is to work with offenders that are referred by Juvenile Court with the objective of assisting them in reducing recidivism, and facilitating their reentry and planning for the future.

The JIFF Building  on Lauderdale — With JIFF’s new mission — including “Learn to Earn” culinary and GED programs — the vision for a specialized facility took root. JIFF purchased the Abe Scharff building from the YMCA. After a successful building campaign and subsequent renovation, the new JIFF facility opened in 2009. With a commercial kitchen, a dining room, full gymnasium, a workout room, an education department and offices, JIFF is able to work with about 200 youth each year. With increased capacity, JIFF is poised to help up to 300 youth each year.

Going Forward — Following Rick Carr’s resignation, Richard Graham, a 6 year veteran of the JIFF Board of Directors, accepted the call to become the new Executive Director.  Under his leadership JIFF has moved forward with purpose and commitment to answer the call of the lost and forgotten young offenders in Memphis.   With deliberate plans to retire the building debt and reach our capacity of serving 300 youth each year,  Richard leads the staff with compassion and dedication.  


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