Welcome Bluff City Baby!

Whether you're a new parent, or interested in contributing to the program, we can use your feedback to improve and continue the program!

Please take a short (2-minute) survey

About the Program

Welcome Bluff City Baby is a gift for new parents that has been designed to encourage early literacy activities. It will be years before your baby begins to read independently, but engaging in nurturing Touch, Talk Read and Play on a daily basis lays the foundation for your child’s future language skills and healthy social-emotional development.

Learn more about early childhood development

Launched in 2020 by the Urban Child Institute as a pilot program at Methodist South Hospital, “Welcome Bluff City Baby” is an initiative of Read901, Memphis’ community-wide literacy network.

Get Involved

Regardless of how you found us, we need your feedback: parents, volunteers, and everyone else! Completing this survey takes less than 2-minutes and will help us measure the community’s response to “Welcome Bluff City Baby” and improve, sustain and expand the program.

Take the Survey Now!

Multiple funding sources are needed to fully expand and sustain this program to reach the approximately 13,000 babies born in Memphis every year. A $30 donation covers the cost of one early literacy backpack but any amount can be donated. 100% of donated funds will be used to purchase backpacks and early literacy items.

Parent Resources

New Parents! Text4baby is a free service that sends personalized messages directly to you. The texts have information you can trust because they are developed by experts from all over the country. There is also an app that provides additional information about your baby’s development, childcare tips and more.

Learn More: Early Childhood Resources in Shelby County


The 2020 pilot program at Methodist South Hospital is being managed by staff at the Urban Child Institute. As the program grows, volunteers will be needed to fill backpacks with items. Please check back for updates. In the meantime, click here to find other literacy-related volunteer opportunities in Memphis.


Interested in finding out more or becoming a partner to help scale up and sustain Bluff City Baby?

Contact Katherine Bryan at kbryan@tuci.org or 901-385-4225

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Past Projects

Presentations for Community Stakeholders: The Urban Child Institute staff delivers presentations to various community stakeholder audiences to provide information on the critical importance of investing in children in the earliest years of life. Target audiences include professionals, parents and other caregivers, and child care providers. These presentations are delivered at various sites in the community.

Lunch and Learn Presentations: The Urban Child Institute regularly arranges for experts in the field of child development and successful programs and interventions to speak in The Institute’s auditorium. Lunch is provided before the event, and speakers respond to questions following the presentation.

Nurturing Parenting Evaluation Study: The Urban Child Institute is working closely with partners from Early Success Coalition, Porter Leath, Seeding Success, and Shelby County Schools (SCS) to evaluate the incorporation of the Nurturing Parenting curriculum into select SCS pre-kindergarten classrooms and parent meetings. Teachers were trained in the Nurturing Parenting curriculum to infuse positive caregiving practices into classroom interactions with students, while Family Service Workers were trained to deliver the training to parents through monthly meetings. To determine whether an association exists between exposure to the Nurturing Parenting curriculum and changes in parent attitudes, classroom interactions, and/or child behavior or academic achievement, the evaluation will compare child, parent, and teacher outcomes among those exposed to the curriculum to outcomes from a similar cohort of children, parents, and teachers who receive the traditional classroom and parent engagement experience.

Touch Talk Read Play: The Urban Child Institute designed the Touch Talk Read Play (TTRP) initiative to inform and inspire parents and child care providers. Based on what we know from early childhood brain development research, babies and young children need daily doses of nurturing touch, conversational talk, exposure to reading and books, and play time with the most important adults in their lives. TTRP is being implemented in several ways:

  • Distribution of materials -- e.g., t-shirts, brochures.
  • TTRP workshops for child care providers -- conducted at the Memphis Public Library.
  • TTRP workshops and Nurturing Parenting training for parents -- conducted by the Neighborhood Christian Centers.
  • Collaborative community outreach efforts:
    • WLOK 1340AM -- weekly story time visits to childcare centers.
    • LeBonheur Pediatric Specialists clinic -- (1) Funding for the Reach Out And Read program, and (2) TTRP message delivery during well-child visits as part of a Bridging the Word Gap research project.

Books from Birth: The Urban Child Institute has a partnership with Shelby County Books from Birth. The Institute creates monthly tailored messages specifically for participating families, and Books from Birth passes along the information as part of the newsletter it sends to its extensive email list.

First Years

What happens during the first years of a child’s life has a huge impact on his future; from his ability to graduate high school and go to college, to relational happiness, to finding a job he loves. How do you make the most of this time?

Learn More

Baby Small

There’s nothing more inspiring than the idea of big change. Especially when it comes to the future of our city. But what if the most important change Memphis needs is not big, but small? That’s right: baby small.

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