Lee Harris
County Mayor | Shelby County, TN

901 Student Passport – A Local Getaway for Students and Families

Idea Category: Education, Safety Net


The fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 resulted in communities across the country sheltering in place for weeks and months throughout much of 2020. No one felt the impact of this intervention more than small children and the parents left to stimulate them. In Shelby County, TN, most schools were abruptly shuttered after Spring Break. Parks and recreational facilities were closed for several months. Summer camps canceled off-site activities, families halted playdates, and, when school began in the fall, most local school systems kept students at home to learn virtually.

At the same time, local galleries and museums were revamping how visitors could tour their spaces while reducing contamination from COVID-19. Despite their best efforts, tourism was at record-low levels and most non-profit boards reported fears that they might shut down permanently due to reductions in attendance and philanthropic support. 


In Summer 2020, the Shelby County Mayor’s Office created the community’s first-of-its-kind “901 Student Passport.” The program was a collaboration between local government and eight arts, culture, and historical institutions across Shelby County.  Each institution received a $30,000 economic stipend to allow every school-age child and their parents to receive free admission through the end of the first semester of school. Parents could download and print a Student Passport or pick up one from every local library in the County.

Upon visiting a location, the Passport received a special stamp. After earning a stamp at each local destination, families mailed or emailed their completed passports to the Mayor’s Office to receive a congratulatory gift box that included items to exercise their bodies and minds. Each box included a colorful puzzle game, durable jump rope, journal, and a personal note from Mayor Lee Harris.

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