Late 1980's - Early 1990's

Emerald Avenue UMC begins a summer outreach ministry with youth in Knoxville's Oakwood/Lincoln Park community. The ministry grows, focusing on serving youth after-school and during the summer. To impact more urban young people and raise the necessary support, the ministry is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization and becomes known as Emerald Youth Foundation.

Mid 1990's - Late 1990's

Emerald Youth Foundation continues to serve youth in Oakwood/Lincoln Park. Locations in East Knoxville and Beaumont/Western Heights. JustLead, the flagship program of Emerald Youth Foundation, is launched. JustLead is based on Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets.


St. Mary's Medical Center purchases a facility for Emerald Youth Foundation at 1718 North Central Street and leases it to EY for $1 per year.

Emerald Youth Foundation begins testing the replication of JustLead into locations throughout Knoxville. Eventually, the JustLead Network is developed. It is a group of churches and faith-based organizations that offer JustLead to youth in neighborhoods across the city.


Tennova Healthcare (the parent company of what was St. Mary's Medical Center) generously donates, in full, the building at 1718 North Central Street to Emerald Youth.

Emerald Youth Foundation starts a separate, non-sectarian, organization called Emerald Charter Schools. Its purpose is to launch Emerald Academy, Knox County's first public charter school. Emerald Academy is a free, independently-operated K-8 college preparatory school.

Emerald Youth Foundation serves more than 2,000 children, teens and young adults each year through a network of churches and faith-based organizations in the heart of Knoxville. The three main programs are JustLead, Emerald Youth Sports and Emerald Youth Fellows.