Spring break had become synonymous with service-learning trips as City Leadership's Executive Director and Founder, John Carroll participated in several as a college student. He later coordinated trips as he worked at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. In fact, he'd meet his wife as they co-led a Habitat for Humanity trip together.

After John moved his family to Memphis in 2004, John realized that 2005 would be the first time in many years that he wasn't going to have a spring break with some aspect of service tied to it. John literally talked his new boss into allowing him to be "off work" for a week to host two groups from out of state to volunteer around the city.

Year after year John continued to host groups to the city to serve in Memphis and Zion Cemetery became a recipient of many volunteer hours to the groups who came from Texas, South Carolina, and all over the country. What was once an overgrown lot that wasn't doing its job of honoring the dead was now restored with dignity.

Not only did the Zion Cemetery experience a rebirth, but the city of Memphis was beginning to enter a renaissance era around the turn of the decade.

John launched City Leadership (CL) in 2010 to provide consulting to Memphis nonprofits. Several of these nonprofits had a need for recruiting talented and compassionate people to their internship and graduate programs. John was already bringing this caliber of individuals through the service-learning trips with some help from CL interns.

As CL’s recruiting goals increased and other CL initiatives grew, John saw the potential and necessity for making this hobby and passion of his expand through hiring a full time person. Jeff Riddle joined the CL team in August 2014 to lead what would be named Serve901.

Our long game is recruiting individuals to the city by facilitating service-learning trips. We believe Memphis to be the premier destination for millennials to enjoy and invest their lives. This is because of the tight-knit community that is working to close the achievement gap, care for refugees, fight for criminal justice reform, and so many other noble causes. Memphis needs the kind of leaders who are sacrificial and seek to serve others over themselves. That’s the type of students that Serve901 hosts in Memphis.

Serve901 hopes its participants begin to view Memphis as a city whose people are caring for others and place amidst differences and obstacles.