Sitting at the crossroads of two Native American trading paths, Charlotte, N.C., has always been a city of commerce (Bank of America has its headquarters here, as did Wachovia previously).
Skyline of downtown Charlotte. Photo by John Ashley via Flickr.
While Charlotte was growing during the boom times of the last decade, poverty was less visible. Today, it's not only more visible, it's at the heart of two critical issues facing the city: educating our children and providing affordable housing for our residents. Like most of the country, Charlotte has seen unemployment rates rise over the past few years and more than 15.8% of Charlotte's nearly one million residents are currently living in poverty. In May 2009, a study found 2,989 homeless children enrolled in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system.
Susan Patterson, program director for Charlotte, says Knight has begun investing in projects to address these critical issues.
The Urban Ministry Center's Moore Place project will provide permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless men and women. It's one piece of a continuum of services needed to reduce the number of people in over-crowded shelters in the community.
Knight's investment in Citizen Schools is supporting public education by extending the learning day with citizen teachers. The middle school students learn new skills, and the volunteers learn more about the needs and desires of public school students.
Patterson is hopeful that momentum is growing to address these critical issues and credits the city's new mayor, Anthony Foxx, for making them part of his agenda.