About Advance Memphis

Advance Memphis was founded in 1999 to bring about economic revitalization in Memphis, Tennessee. Specifically, we focus on the South Memphis neighbors who live in the 38126 and 38106 zip codes. We began in 38126 and still make it our first priority. We believe that adults can be empowered to change their lives and their community. Advance Memphis provides biblically based programs that bring HOPE, KNOWLEDGE, RESOURCES, and SKILLS to the neighborhood. The residents of the neighborhood then have the tools they need to affect change.

Not in Labor Force*
Household Income Less Than $25,000*
Residents over 25 w/o high school degree*
*Source: American Community Survey 2016. Averages for 38126 and 38106

Our Mission

The mission of Advance Memphis is to empower adults in South Memphis to break cycles of unemployment, establish economic stability, reconcile relationships, and restore dignity through knowledge, resources, and skills by the power of Jesus Christ.

View our Statement of Faith.


Our Vision

To see South Memphis transformed into a revitalized community through the empowerment of local adults.



In 1999, Advance Memphis was formed by Steve Nash to bring resources for economic stability to the population in and around the Cleaborn/Foote Public Housing Developments. The same year, 38126 was listed as the 3rd poorest urban zip code in the nation. For decades, the community has been plagued by generational poverty and its symptoms: crime, unemployment, low graduation rates, and a high infant mortality rate. Conversely, the neighborhood is blessed with residents who unquestioningly share with their neighbors and who take care of one another, even at great cost to themselves.

Steve Nash started the work at Advance Memphis by helping friends from the neighborhood connect with job opportunities. As Steve continued serving and dreaming, staff and programs were added, beginning with financial literacy programs and growing to include job readiness and much more. From the beginning, the vision at Advance Memphis has been to see the neighborhood transformed into a revitalized community through the empowerment of local adults. We work to help our neighbors see their value in the workplace and take their place in the workforce. It is not enough to simply offer a job to an individual raised in an environment of generational poverty. Instead, Advance Memphis offers holistic programs that rely heavily on instilling knowledge and skills in an environment of relational support.

In 2017 we welcomed our South Memphis neighbors in 38106 zip code into our programs.

The Work Life program is at the heart of our services and begins with teachers giving students a vision of their own value as workers with unique skills sets. Volunteer mentors further develop this theme, leading small group discussions with a focus on identifying barriers to employment, setting professional and educational goals, and developing relationships that will provide a support network beyond graduation day. All the while, job readiness basics such as integrity in the workplace, effective communication, resume building, and interview skills are covered. Work Life is published by the Chalmers Center grew out of a multi-year collaboration with the Chalmers Center for Economic Development and Jobs for LifeLearn more here.

Other “stepping stone” programs at Advance Memphis help students move toward economic stability. These include matched savings programs, HSE/GED preparation, an addiction recovery program, and more. In an effort to bring jobs to the community and reduce transportation issues, Advance Memphis purchased a warehouse at 575 Suzette which houses outsourcing work for our neighbors.  In 2018, Advance Memphis purchased a second warehouse at 960 South Bellevue to better serve more neighbors with work near home.  Today, Advance Memphis is a team of about 22 staff members, over 100 regular volunteers, and a neighborhood full of program alumni who are still working toward the vision that was formed over 20 years ago: an empowered and revitalized neighborhood. By the grace of God, the work will continue, and we will all continue to be blessed by the journey.







Associate Staff


Board of Directors

  • Hunter Acosta, ADP
  • Michael Davis, (Chairman) Downtown Church
  • Fred Holmes, Gestalt Community Schools
  • Audrey Hurst, Audrey Hurst Weddings
  • Tina Johnson, WM Barr
  • Vonesha Mitchell, Medical District Collaborative
  • Nick Nunn, Patriot Bank
  • David Ozier, UWT Logistics
  • Lane Patikas, Community Volunteer
  • Leanne Scull, The Avenue Wealth Management, Raymond James
Revised 04/06/2020