In the field of education, Memphis may just be the new “it” city. Having won recent grants from the Gates Foundation and Race to the Top, many have dubbed it an “overnight success.”
But a proud Barbara Hyde will tell you these opportunities were not so sudden at all. In fact, they were 20 years in-the-making, starting with her husband, Joseph “Pitt” Reeves Hyde III, quietly making the rounds in the Tennessee Statehouse.
The Hyde family’s commitment to Memphis, not only in improving its education, but also in preserving its authentic natural and cultural assets, dates back even further. When Pitt’s grandfather arrived in the early 1890s and co-founded the wholesale grocery business, Malone & Hyde, he also found a city that needed his help. This led to the creation of the J.R. Hyde Sr. Family Foundation.
Two generations later, enter grandson Pitt, who dramatically expanded Malone & Hyde before founding the auto parts distributor, AutoZone. In 1992, when Pitt took the helm of his grandfather’s foundation, he also founded the J.R. Hyde III Family Foundation. Today, Barbara serves as President of both foundations, which continue their focus on Memphis.
Believing that politics stand in the way of change, the Hydes have come at education reform from every angle—relentlessly focusing on the things they can change, patiently pursing quality, and abandoning budget constraints when opportunity knocks.
Leading by example, the Hydes have rallied Memphis’ small pool of philanthropists to come to the city’s aid. A case in point is the Civil Rights Museum, which the Hydes and others helped create in the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. While the museum celebrates the freedom that was at the heart of King’s message, it also stands as a testament to activism, not only of Dr. King but also of the Hydes and of others who are supporting Memphis’ renaissance.More Remarkable Givers
- A great belief in the capacity of the individual: The Hydes share the value that underpins their philanthropy
- Aiming for “dramatic change?” Pitt Hyde says “sweat equity” is worth far more than capital
- Barbara and Pitt Hyde seek to influence education policy in and outside of their philanthropy
- Bike paths to economic growth: Barbara and Pitt Hyde on how the Greening Memphis Initiative will help the city in multiple ways
- Filling gaps: Barbara and Pitt Hyde try to meet needs that others aren’t funding
- From fundraiser to grant maker: Barbara Hyde’s approach to philanthropy has been shaped by this transition
- “From passive investors to taking on leading-edge issues”: The Hydes reflect on why philanthropy has had a major impact on their lives
- Integrated approach: Barbara and Pitt Hyde tackle Memphis education by focusing on schools, leadership and standards
- Investing in tomorrow’s workforce: Pitt Hyde explains why he focuses on education in Memphis
- “Just giving money seldom solves the problem”: Barbara and Pitt Hyde offer tips to new philanthropists
- Legacy and leverage: Pitt Hyde explains his family’s heritage of giving and why he focuses solely on Memphis
- Not a partisan issue: Barbara and Pitt Hyde say philanthropy can help overcome political divisiveness
- Not for the faint hearted: Pitt Hyde discusses the determination it takes to change public policy
- Not so fast: Barbara and Pitt Hyde say recent breakthroughs in TN’s education were years in the making
- “Our secret weapon”: Barbara and Pitt Hyde discuss leadership and praise their executive director
- Out in front: In Memphis, Barbara and Pitt Hyde have taken a lead role – and have garnered some real partners to join them
- Philanthropy accomplishments: Barbara and Pitt Hyde are proud of the progress they’ve seen in Memphis
- Pitt Hyde supported the formation of SCORE to support and sustain Tennessee’s education reform efforts
- Quality, not quantity: Barbara and Pitt Hyde start with a few good schools
- Reaching scale: Barbara and Pitt Hyde says it starts with quality, not quantity
- Removing a roadblock: Barbara and Pitt Hyde won’t let politics stand in the way of education reform
- The Hydes work to seize a “once-in-three-generation” opportunity in education reform
- Tipping point: At a key moment in TN education reform, Barbara and Pitt Hyde double their investment
- Uniquely Memphis: Barbara and Pitt Hyde turn a “tragic site into something positive”
- When it comes to K-12, Barbara and Pitt Hyde look for what they can change
- When to start a nonprofit: Pitt Hyde says to consider it when a problem is not being addressed by existing organizations
- Working partnership: Barbara and Pitt Hyde share philanthropic decisions and learn from each other