AC Wharton Jr. (File Photo)

Memphis-area colleges are grooming some of the city’s most creative and innovative future leaders in civic responsibility.  Eight have been chosen for the inaugural class of the Civic Fellowship Program, an initiative of The Apex Institute.

The new fellows were presented Wednesday at a “big reveal” celebration in the main lobby of downtown’s Court Square Center.

The Apex Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 2017 by AC Wharton Jr., who has served as mayor for Memphis and Shelby County. The Civic Fellowship Program is the entity’s flagship project, honoring outstanding college juniors who have demonstrated leadership in addressing social issues related to injustice and inequality.

 “I have always held a belief that justice and equity are things that you never really accomplish,” said Wharton. “Our work toward them must always be aspirational.  There is no finish line.”

Wharton said in a brief statement that he pulled together a small team to “bring to fruition a vehicle that would drive revolutionary approaches to solve some of the most persistent forms of injustice” in the city of Memphis.

Fellows were recruited from four local colleges and universities: two from the University of Memphis; three from Christian Brothers University; two from LeMoyne-Owen College, and one from Rhodes College.

“I envision a future where possibilities abound and where opportunities and dreams can be pursued and realized regardless of race, gender, or economic standing,” said Wharton. “We feel these individuals bring an equity-minded approach to examining three Apex impact areas: criminal justice, housing, and healthcare. Our program is just perfect for Memphis.”