Youth Envision Academy

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Envision Academy provides participants with generous scholarship and 160 hours of interaction with officers while increasing their community knowledge, exploring issues which affect the community, and creating a platform from which to envision a better future for themselves and Charlotte. Up to 30 youth, with 5 CMPD mentors, participate in this 8-week summer program. Each week focuses upon a broad theme that is supported by local businesses and non-profit: Envision Orientation; Envision Government, Politics & Justice; Envision the City; Envision the Environment; Envision the Economy; Envision Health and Human Services; Envision Education; Envision the Future. The following article is from one of this summer’s Ambassadors.

For the past two summers I had the privilege of participating in the CMPD’s Envision Academy, first as a scholar and this year as an Ambassador. The academy taught me many valuable things such as leadership, team building, fellowship, and also how to better present myself. Having the opportunity to take on a leadership role this past summer was definitely the highlight of my entire year. I was able to have a more personal connection to my scholars unlike what the officers or other mentors had with them because I could relate to them. I saw a version of myself in a few of the scholars: very shy, not wanting to participate or speak up. I remembered how the Ambassadors last year helped me in my journey to becoming a more open person through various activities like open discussions, games, and scenario workshops so I thought it would be best to try them with this group as well. In the end, I was fortunate enough to see my scholars grow and virtually become different people in the span of less than 3 months. In all honesty, I look forward to checking in on my scholars every so often to see what are up to and watching them become leaders in their own way.

I believe that every high schooler in Charlotte should have the opportunity to partake in programs like Envision. Internships and programs like Envision expose the youth to parts of their community that they would otherwise never know about and helps them learn important networking skills and the value of leadership in a unique and engaging way. Millennials and Gen Z are the future of the ever growing and expanding city of Charlotte and the only way that we will be willing to help is if the value of service and camaraderie is instilled in us before we come to the age where our voices and votes really matter. Until then, we should continue to support businesses like The Gambrell Foundation who sees the best in Charlotte’s youth and are willing to financially support our ideas for the future.

The Central Piedmont Community College Opportunity Scholars Program

The Central Piedmont Community College Opportunity Scholars Program is a 2-year scholarship that supports students in obtaining the education and skills needed to earn a career-focused, technical degree, and embark on a pathway to a successful career. Scholars receive complete cost of attendance—tuition, books and fees—as well as a notebook computer to help meet their digital needs. Scholars participate in CPCC’s Summer Bridge academic enrichment program prior to their first fall semester to help prepare them for college-level work and receive the support of an academic counselor/career coach to help with course and career path selection, find internships and other workplace learning opportunities, and provide assistance with job placement.


United Neighborhoods Partnership

United Way of Central Carolinas is honored to partner with The Gambrell Foundation on United Neighborhoods, a comprehensive initiative launched by this agency that supports greater economic mobility for residents of Charlotte’s most under-resourced neighborhoods.

The Gambrell Foundation funding – $100,000 per year for five years – serves as a foundation for sustaining United Way’s multi-year commitment to two neighborhoods, Grier Heights and Renaissance West.

With support from The Gambrell Foundation, United Way funds two community quarterback organizations that lead revitalization efforts: CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development in Grier Heights and Renaissance West Community Initiative in Renaissance West. United Way’s funding ensures each organization can attract and retain the talent needed to remain focused on resident engagement and neighborhood revitalization.

United Way also funds a community grants pool. Residents identify desired neighborhood services at community meetings, and we work with the community quarterbacks to identify and invite service providers to submit grants.

United Way convenes residents and stakeholders to serve on grant review panels that make funding recommendations. Through this grant process, neighborhood residents have the opportunity to access vital services that promote the health, education and financial stability of children and families – all offered in their own neighborhoods.

United Way benefits from The Gambrell Foundation’s broad commitment to advancing economic mobility and racial equity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Most notably, United Way led an effort to secure funding to strengthen our community’s capacity to understand whether the work being done by our nonprofit agencies is positively impacting children and families and laying the foundation for greater economic mobility.

With support from The Duke Endowment, Foundation for the Carolinas and Wells Fargo, United Way is funding two graduate fellowships at University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, these two graduate students will work directly with CrossRoads Corporation and a group of the agencies funded by the community grants process.

The graduate students will help develop a strategy for evaluating the holistic impact of the agencies’ shared efforts, particularly the efforts to promote early care and education of children from birth to age eight and their families.

A third UNC-Charlotte student, funded by a grant from The Gambrell Foundation to the Urban Institute, will expand upon the work of these graduate fellows by analyzing data collected by all nonprofit partners working in Grier Heights. The long-term goal is to equip these nonprofits to entrust their data in an integrated database, allowing for robust, long-term evaluation of our efforts to promote economic mobility.

United Way proudly serves as a funder, thought leader, and community convener to advance economic mobility in Charlotte and the surrounding community. We cannot do our work alone and celebrate our partnership with The Gambrell Foundation.

Central Piedmont Gambrell Foundation Opportunity Scholar – Kavyn Cordon

Kavyn Cordon, Gambrell Foundation Opportunity Scholar

Gambrell Foundation Opportunity Scholar Kavyn Cordon has had a passion for creating food and cooking for as long as he can remember. The North Mecklenburg High School graduate took a number of culinary classes in high school, knowing it was a career path he wanted to pursue after graduation.

But as commencement drew closer, and the prospect of attending Johnson & Wales remained out of reach due to its high cost, Kavyn turned his attention to Central Piedmont and its nationally-accredited culinary arts program.

The more he learned about Central Piedmont, the more attractive it became to the Huntersville, N.C., resident. Kavyn especially liked the college’s affordability and accessibility.

So, he decided to discuss his options at Central Piedmont with his high school guidance counselor. They recommended he apply for the college’s Opportunity Scholars program. With this in mind, Kavyn gathered the required letters of recommendation, worked to maintain his GPA, and preserve his school performance. His hard work paid off – he met the program’s requirements and was named a Gambrell Foundation Opportunity Scholar in spring 2019.

The recognition meant there would be no down time for Kavyn after high school graduation. In mid-June he began Central Piedmont’s Summer Bridge Program, an initiative that strives to make high school graduates more aware of what is expected of them in college before the start of the semester; participation in the program is a component of his scholarship.

Walking around Central Campus during Summer Bridge, Kavyn soaked in the close proximity to uptown Charlotte, enjoyed the campus’s vibrant atmosphere, and reveled in spending time with the many friends he was making as a result of being named a Gambrell Foundation Opportunity Scholar.

“I cannot thank The Gambrell Foundation enough for their support of the Opportunity Scholarship program at Central Piedmont,” explains Kavyn. “I am appreciative of the generosity they’ve shown me and my peers, and I hope I make them proud by using my culinary gifts to make a difference both in my personal life and as a professional in the kitchen.”

Kavyn is currently exploring apprenticeship opportunities that are available through the college’s culinary arts program. He aspires to join the workforce after earning his associate degree in culinary arts from Central Piedmont in spring 2021. What the future will look like post-commencement is still unclear – even to Kavyn.

“I would love to work in a restaurant setting, but I haven’t ruled out the food truck industry either,” said Kavyn. “All I know is I want to jump right into the workforce after graduation. I can’t wait to make my mark on Charlotte’s culinary scene and am hopeful about what’s still to come.”