I don’t know where either of you live, but pretty much every metropolitan area in the USA is host to meetups on Meetup.com, including Hackaday and Hackster.io, among others. Also, local makerspaces/hacker spaces are everywhere and may offer free or really cheap classes and communities. Here’s one source to find something near you: https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/List_of_Hacker_Spaces.
That covers the community aspect. For self-study, there are books. Pick one. I recommend the most up-to-date books you can find, with good reviews. I also recommend starting out with Arduino and then going more low-level as you become more comfortable. That’s just based on my personal experience stubbornly trying it the other way around. A lot of things can go wrong between the hardware, software, connections to your computer, IDE configuration, etc. It can be overwhelming. Other people, who know a lot more than I do, say to learn the hard way. I suppose it depends on the person and what resources they have to learn with.
Finally, there are free online courses such as https://www.edx.org/course/embedded-systems-shape-world-utaustinx-ut-6-10x and others. But I personally tried several of them and they were always frustrating for one reason or another. So many tiny things can go wrong, it’s just better to be there in person. I spent a couple of weeks with no results before I realized that my usb hub, while still functional, had become faulty. I’ll never forget that.
Good luck and hey, I’m always looking for more people to learn/build/grow with, so come see me at https://github.com/bnoden or just talk to me here if you wish.