MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In our special series "Memphis: On a Mission," local leaders said this city is on the brink. The New Memphis Institute is a new program in the city looking to energize the next generation of leaders by focusing on the possibilities rather than the problems.
"When I came back as a 22-year-old, things were different, my perspectives had changed," Courtney Robertson said.
He was raised in Memphis, but says he sees the city in a new light after going away for school.
He studied education, poverty and transportation engineering -- issues the city of Memphis is struggling with. Robertson came home to try and help.
Robbye Good runs the Embark program through the New Memphis Institute.
She said, "We know that retaining young professionals is a driver of city's success."
It's a program for 20-something professionals looking to help change Memphis for the better.
"Memphis doesn't always celebrate our successes. New Memphis does that, and wants to do that on a regular basis," Good said.
Embark is free, but you have to apply to get in.
Good says they are investing in the next generation, putting go-getters and problem solvers in the same space to spark change.
The demographic breakdown of the group is also very important. They make sure there is a equal representation of men and women, as well as people from different races and economic standings. It's a melting pot of the best and brightest of Memphis.
Robertson said, "This gave me a chance to connect with people who were like-minded and also wanted to do something to change the city."
Robertson added Embark is definitely a time commitment, but he's taking the leadership skills he learned here and using them everyday at his job with the non-profit Knowledge Quest.
At the end of each session, the group comes up with an idea of how they could make Memphis better. Now that idea is going to leave the classroom and take it to the streets to create real change in Memphis.