North Carolina Outward Bound School's Charlotte Unity Project | SHARE Charlotte

North Carolina Outward Bound School's Charlotte Unity Project

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Year Founded:
1967
Local Leader / Exec. Director:
Melissa Atherton, Director of Charlotte Advancement; Bea Armstrong, Executive Director
Main Address:
2582 Riceville Road
Asheville, NC 28805

What We Do

North Carolina Outward Bound School's mission is to change lives through challenge and discovery. For more than 20 years, NCOBS' Charlotte Unity Project has worked with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to recruit a group of students that represents the diversity of their school. The program begins with an Outward Bound course where students develop the personal qualities they need to become community leaders. They embark on a wilderness expedition designed to assert their common humanity; develop their courage and compassion as leaders; establish a democratic forum within which to discuss challenging issues; and to create a model community within their crew. Students return to their schools to use these skills in their Unity Clubs. Guided by an advisor, Unity Clubs organize community projects that address issues of diversity and social justice. Unity Clubs have addressed issues ranging from cliques at school to gun violence.

In 2019, NCOBS went through an internal audit focused on diversity, equity, and
inclusion facilitated by the Avarna Group. During this time, the Diversity, Equity, and
Inclusion Committee was created. This committee includes instructors and
administrative staff, as well as board members, and meets monthly. We understand that
when we operate in a more inclusive and equitable environment, it is better for our staff
and the students we serve.

North Carolina Outward Bound School’s Charlotte Unity Project focuses on social
justice and racial equity specifically for Charlotte high school students. The Unity
Project has identified the need to unite school communities. The study, “Where is the
Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the U.S.”, ranks
Charlotte last in economic mobility among 50 major U.S. cities. Social capital is a key
ingredient for achieving upward economic mobility. Social walls and bubbles stifle social
capital. Through the process of selecting students from a school that is diverse, we are
promoting the opportunities for students to break down these barriers.

Student participants receive a tuition-free weeklong wilderness expedition. Outward
Bound offers a safe space for students of color to learn from and experience the
wilderness. This is an experience often denied to people of color because the outdoor
industry has been historically white, and at times dismissive towards people of color.
During the day, students trek through the forest tackling personal and team challenges,
including rock climbing and ropes courses. In the evening, they meet around a
campfire. Led by instructors, the group engages in conversations about racial issues,
sexual orientation, bullying, and other topics that high school students rarely broach.

Students return to their schools to create Unity Clubs and implement a school-wide
project that addresses a social justice issue in their school and community. Not only
does the Unity Project bring together a diverse group of students, but it also empowers
them to engage in civic participation within their communities.

Interesting Info

82% of North Carolina Outward Bound School's Charlotte Unity Project Students are children of color.
North Carolina Outward Bound School's Charlotte Unity Project partners with eight CMS schools to develop a diverse group of student leaders.
North Carolina Outward Bound School's Charlotte Unity Project's mission is to empower communities of young people to initiate social change.

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Upcoming Events

Charlotte Unity Project Breakfast March 25, 2022 - 7:30am to 9:00am Read more »

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