#SpotlightOnCLT: The CMS Foundation | SHARE Charlotte

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#SpotlightOnCLT: The CMS Foundation

February 18, 2021    in
Presented by AvidXchange Foundation, Written by Amy Andrews

The CMS Foundation is the official fundraising non-profit partner for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Their mission is to raise funds and strategically invest them within CMS to make a district-wide impact. 

According to Foundation Manager Ashelyn James, “we work directly with district leaders to understand their strategy, seeding innovation or expanding and accelerating things within the district.” She added, “we work in lock step with CMS on strategic needs and to help where public dollars might not be able to do so at the same speed and scale.”

When schools closed in March due to COVID, the need to close the connectivity gap for students became the CMS Foundation’s most urgent priority. Thanks to a very generous group of donors, the CMS Foundation was able to quickly raise $1 million dollars to purchase 6,000 mobile hotspots with 6 months of internet service for students without home internet. 

However, the pandemic continued, and by the start of the 2020-21 school year an estimated 16,000 households with CMS students lacked adequate home connectivity. In response, the CMS Foundation launched their “Connect for Tech” campaign with the goal of raising $3.2 million to cover the costs of internet services for students in need of support during the COVID crisis.

According to James, “the community came out in an incredible way.” Through a combination of public and private support, the CMS Foundation saw thousands of individual donors, community organizations and the City of Charlotte join together. She added, “we were thrilled to exceed our goal and to be able to so rapidly address the connectivity needs of our students.” 

The current strategic fundraising focus for the CMS Foundation is on teacher recruitment and retention. The CMS Foundation is supporting the CMS Teaching Residency, a district-operated program that provides an accelerated, affordable pathway for passionate professionals to become licensed teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system. 

Since its inception in 2018, the CMS Teaching Residency has placed over 260 residents in classrooms and impacted 99 CMS schools. James shared, “a variety of factors have resulted in a rising teacher shortage over the years, and we anticipate that COVID may lead to an increase in teacher vacancies. We continue to work in strategic ways to support new and existing teachers.”

The foundation would like readers who might be working in different sectors and considering a career change to know about this unique opportunity. 

The CMS Foundation exists to support public education and serve as a trusted bridge between CMS and the donor community. “It is important to us to provide transparency and accountability so that donors understand how their efforts impact our school system in strategic ways,” emphasized James. For more information on the CMS Foundation and how you can support its work, visit their website

This month's #SpotlightOnCLT: Bridging the Digital Divide is presented by our friends at AvidXchange Foundation