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.