For KIPP Charlotte, this is more than a motto. It's a simple yet powerful directive to focus on academics and character in equal measure. It's a reminder that education is a matter of the mind and the heart.
1980’s Charlotte = a building town. Construction workers moved here and built their lives in Charlotte, but no preschool was laying the foundation for Spanish-speaking children to enter Kindergarten. The need for Spanish-speaking families to access early childhood education was nonexistent before 1999 when SHARE Charlotte partner, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool (CltBP), opened their doors.
Just last year, Mecklenburg County rolled out a new program MECK Pre-K which offers free pre-k education and care to eligible four year olds in the Charlotte area in response to a big push for free child care and education across the country and right here in our own city.
Did you know that food insecurity is a major problem in the city of Charlotte?
How big of a problem?
Think 150,000+ individuals in Mecklenburg County big. Additionally, around 80% of those individuals don’t have consistent access to transportation. That means, even if it’s a good week financially, accessing places like grocery stores, farmers markets, or even food banks, is still a challenge. Surprised? I was. In a city where popular grocery store chains seem to pop up like weeds, reading the stats was a shock.
Walking to the grocery store in Detroit in the 1970s, 6-year-old Angela Gray loved math and counting money.
“I remember going to the store with my mom and they had a sign that read, ‘Sale Yogurt - 4 for a $1’. I told my mom, ‘That’s not a sale because the yogurt is usually 22 cents each,’ Gray reminisced.
“‘Most people don’t pick up on that,’ my mom told me. It also bothered me that we could get more groceries in nicer areas than we could in the stores in our neighborhood. Thus, I began at a young age to notice how poorer people often had to pay more for groceries."
This is not a Detroit issue. This is a universal access and price gouging issue. In the Charlotte area, over 87,000 residents lack access to fresh, healthy affordable food.
It's a question no child should have to ask. But for kids who rely on free and reduced meals at school for daily nutrition, it's a question they could face every Friday afternoon. Sixty-five hours of weekend with an empty belly is a long time, especially for a child trying to grow and learn.
Blessings in a Backpack is tackling child hunger by giving backpacks full of food to elementary age students every weekend for the entire school year. The national organization feeds more than 87,300 children in nearly 1,092 schools in 45 states.
A huge hurdle for families embarking on their new lives in Charlotte is simply not knowing how to navigate the ins and outs of daily life. Buying groceries, enrolling children in school or figuring out how to read bills are all monumental tasks. Refugee Support Services was born out of the need to directly help families facing these and other challenges, providing them with support and connection to promote self-sufficiency and ultimately enrich the Charlotte community.
According to Executive Director Rachel Humphries, “We are very centered on bottom-up programming. We tried a top-down approach and it just didn’t resonate with our families.”
Based directly on these needs, Refugee Support Services focuses on five main areas:
We have so much great news to share from our nonprofit partners about their amazing work. But, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know if you have stories you'd like to tell and we'll make you a guest blogger!!