Classroom Central equips impoverished students to effectively learn by providing free school supplies. The Mobile Free Store distributes supplies to teachers, which is particularly helpful in the outer areas of CMS. A $317,000 gift over three years fully funded the Mobile Free Store. A $59,938 grant provided backpacks full of essential school supplies to students in selected high poverty schools through Classroom Central’s Backpacks and Basics program. Our Executive Director, Hannah Rankin, also serves on the Board of Directors.
Here is a glimpse of the amazing opportunity some of our high school students and community leaders experienced together over a three-day trip to Washington, D.C. in August, 2019. As you’ll see in the video, the students are well-equipped and passionate about making a difference in our community and the world ̶ all they need are resources, opportunities for meaningful connection with others, and a chance to share their ideas and vision for the future. In short, students have a strong desire to be “Difference Makers” in this world.
Central Piedmont provides a real-world, affordable, hands-on education that will transform students, change their lives, and impact communities. A $1 million grant over 3 years funds 75 students to participate in the Gambrell Opportunity Scholars Program. The program provides post-secondary education and career-focused training opportunities to first-generation college students. The scholarship covers not only tuition, books and fees for two years to earn an associate degree, in addition, the scholarship provides each recipient with a laptop computer, participation in the Summer Bridge Program, transportation and food vouchers, and academic counselor-career coaching.
An additional $875,000 grant over 5 years provides 13,500 Google Chromebook laptop computers and computer skills training to first-time, full-time students attending Central Piedmont. This revolutionary project was the first in the nation and provides a model for assessing the impact of access to technology for students.
Vision to Learn provides glasses to students to see the board, read a book, study math and participate in class. About one in five children need glasses. A $300,000 grant over 3 years will provide 3,000 eye exams and glasses to students in need in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, free of charge through a mobile clinic.
We believe in continuous learning for all ages, and the Southeast Council of Foundations (SECF) inspires us and other foundations in our region. The Gambrell Foundation was honored to serve as the Legacy Sponsor for the 50th Anniversary of the SECF.
Florence Crittenton Services of North Carolina provides comprehensive health, education and social services for at-risk or pregnant adolescents. A $1MM gift over 3 years will improve and sustain the facilities and provide program services.
Project L.I.F.T. stands for Project Leadership & Investment For Transformation, and they are a unique public-private partnership between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Charlotte’s philanthropic community operating in nine learning communities. The goal is to change the way traditionally under-served students are educated, supported and empowered to realize their full potential. A $1MM gift over 2 years provides the L.I.F.T. schools with support to cement best practices and focus on bolstering student achievements.
The Youth Envision Academy is an 8-week summer program that introduces youth to Charlotte’s government, business and non-profit community. It was launched in 2017 following Chief Kerr Putney’s identification of the need to extend meaningful opportunities to under-served Charlotte area youth. Students are provided with 160 hours of interaction with police officers and diversion staff while increasing community knowledge, exploring issues which affect the community and creating a platform from which to envision a better future for themselves and Charlotte. A $60,000 grant supported an additional 25 students through the program.
Camp Fusion was started in September of 2016 by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department in order to bring more opportunities to Charlotte kids. Athletes are typically seen as leaders in schools and provide the perfect opportunity to build new relationships between the police and youth. The Terrybrook Project connected 16 police officers with 48 student athletes. The two main goals are to forge positive relationships between the officers and athletes, and to form positive relationships among the student athletes. A $10,000 grant allows the summer camp to be free to student athletes.
The YMCA puts Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy minds, bodies and spirits for people of all ages. A $500,000 gift over two years helps provide a path for at-risk teens to receive help in their journey to success and productivity through the YMCA’s Year of Opportunity. Working with CMPD and other partners, a year-round system of support, mentorship and opportunity was created.
The North Carolina Outward Bound School Unity Project is a wilderness-based high school program empowering youth of diverse backgrounds to become compassionate leaders of social change. A $250,000 gift enabled them to expand the Unity Project to additional CMS schools. An additional $38,045 gift was raised during a matching challenge in the fall.
Queens University provides transformative educational experiences that nurture intellectual curiosity, promote global understanding, encourage ethical living and prepare individuals for purposeful and fulfilling lives. A $10MM gift over five years was given for the establishment of the Sarah Belk Gambrell Center for the Arts and Civic Engagement, a renovation project of a 50-year-old building dedicated to arts, creativity and community. The Foundation honored its founder through the naming of this new center.
Camp Blue Skies provides overnight camp for adults with development disabilities including Down syndrome, Autism, Williams syndrome, and other cognitive disabilities. Their focus on health and nutrition, exercise and life skills education is provided with the intention that these participants can return home to live more independently and lead fulfilling and productive lives. A $1MM gift over 5 years will ensure the unique camp experience will continue and grow.
Charlotte Symphony is committed to delivering exceptional music experiences in addition to serving the community. A $500,000 gift over 2 years will support education and community engagement programs including a focus on activities for children with the fewest resources and greatest need. They serve children in three under-served neighborhoods through a free after-school program of ensemble instruction and performance, mentoring, and homework assistance.
Learn More Photo credit: Logan Cyrus
For more than a century, YWCA Central Carolinas has stood at the forefront of social change, justice and economic empowerment in Greater Charlotte. The Gambrell Foundation provided a $225,000 grant over 3 years to fund a Community Engagement Manager. This person works tirelessly on projects that aim to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The YWCA is focused on ensuring they are a beacon of hope for equity and transformation in the face of racism and misogyny.
United Neighborhoods is a comprehensive, multi-year initiative that will lay the foundation for greater economic mobility for residents of Charlotte’s most under-resourced neighborhoods. Through two local community “quarterback” organizations – Crossroads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development are supporting Grier Heights, and Renaissance West Community Initiative supporting Renaissance West. A $500,000 grant over 5 years will ensure stability in funding for years to come.
The Gambrell Foundation is working closely with Foundation For The Carolinas and a research team from Opportunity Insights, under the leadership of Harvard University Professor Raj Chetty. Chetty was the key architect of the 2013 study revealing Charlotte’s 50th out of 50 national ranking in upward mobility for children born in poverty. Opportunity Insights is using its rich research and data to inform policy changes that increase economic mobility. Through a Gates Foundation grant, the Harvard team selected Charlotte as its inaugural city in which to conduct further research.
At the local level, a $1 million grant over 2 years is helping to build capacity of the Institute for Social Capital’s integrated community database and supporting pilot projects that emerge from the Opportunity Insight work in Charlotte. These pilot projects will be identified and pursued in 2020.
The Gambrell Foundation is also supporting the research of twelve faculty fellows at UNC-Charlotte on various aspects of economic opportunity.