Building New Partnerships Among Families and Community Resources

The Early Success Coalition at Porter-Leath is gearing up for the second cohort of the Memphis Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) and all parents and caregivers in Shelby County are invited to apply! The Parent Leadership Training Institute is a free 20-week course designed to equip parents with the knowledge and skills to advocate for policies and practices that benefit children and families in Memphis. Parents participate in a retreat, attend a weekly 3 hour workshop, and complete a community project prior to graduation.

In May, Porter-Leath graduated twenty parents from the first ever Memphis cohort of PLTI. One of those parents, Monica Everett, shared that she joined the inaugural class of Memphis PLTI to learn more about advocacy and reinvigorate her voice and leadership skills. Through the support of the initiative, Ms. Everett successfully launched “All Aboard for Autism: Bringing Parents Together and Embracing the Normalcy of Autism in Communities.” All Aboard for Autism provides empowerment, knowledge and support for parents of children on the autism spectrum, particularly focusing on networking and resources for early intervention.

Ms. Everett credits the principles, strategies, support, and community gained from PLTI in helping her follow her passion and make the project a reality. She shared “I wanted to build a coalition for change and awareness in the Memphis community. With the launch of the first two parent support group meetings, I am hopeful for the future.” Since graduating from PLTI, Ms. Everett has launched a blog to document her family’s journey with autism and has joined two additional leadership advocacy programs - the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Partners in Policymaking for the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. She encourages others to consider participating in the PLTI initiative - “It could be the spark you need to empower yourself and empower others to ACT, not fear; to LEAD and not wait for others to do so; to aim for PROGRESS not perfection; to START with what you HAVE instead of what you lack,” she said.

Ms. Everett went on to explain, “Parent leaders have the power to positively influence families, neighborhoods, systems, but most importantly, our greatest impact is right in our own homes. PLTI helps you to take a look right around you to determine where the needs are and then gives you the essential tools to get started.” The Memphis Parent Leadership Training Institute is now accepting applications for the 2022-23 cohort. Caregivers in Shelby County looking to advance their efforts to create community change are encouraged to apply at

To learn more about the Early Success Coalition, contact Kellie Spilman, Program Director, at or visit the Early Success Coalition website!