Our Vision

Our Children.
Their Future.
Our Commitment.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a community that cares about all our children - regardless of their income, background, race or zip code - and where all of our children feel they belong, have big dreams and have the opportunities to achieve their dreams.

In 2014, the Chetty Study ranked Charlotte last among the 50 largest US cities and Mecklenburg 99 out of 100 counties in upward mobility. Access to economic opportunity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is far too often aligned with the zip code where one lives.

Our Leading on Opportunity Council led by James E. Ford and Andrea B. Smith, formed in March 2017 to implement the recommendations of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force led by Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown and Dee O'Dell, that convened in 2015 to study economic mobility challenges in our region. Executive Director Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter joined Leading on Opportunity in February 2018.

As charged in the Opportunity Task Force Report, Leading on Opportunity takes a systemic approach to addressing the key determinants of early care and education, college and career readiness, and child and family stability, while simultaneously focusing on the cross-cutting factors of segregation and social capital.

Our Vision

Our
Core Values

Diversity & Inclusion

We honor differences and center on diverse community voices to shape our work where everyone belongs.

Empathy

We recognize our shared humanity and inherent dignity, working towards shared understanding.

Trust

We authentically connect and build relationships across all sectors of our community.

Challenge the Status Quo

We courageously disrupt systems to create new possibilities for opportunity.

Equity

We acknowledge everyone starts in different places and commit to improving outcomes so all children, youth and families rise.

Our Operating Principles

  • We honor the fidelity of the work of the Opportunity Task Force in seeking systemic change to improve outcomes.
  • We acknowledge power dynamics openly and ensure work is intentional in deploying an equity lens.
  • We model respect for diverse opinions and engage in robust and candid discussion with a goal of achieving collective wisdom.
  • We recognize the respect and trust placed in our work by the community and strive to ensure decisions are made with the highest degree of integrity.
  • We openly communicate the decisions of the Council.
  • We work alongside the community to mobilize resources and implement community-driven responses to recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force.
  • We leverage media strategically to amplify awareness of our shared humanity and drive action towards increasing social and economic mobility.
Our Council

Boldly Influencing Systems Change

Inspiring collective action across community.

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Our Council

How We Work

We share a mission to create pathways of opportunity so every child, youth and family in Charlotte-Mecklenburg can rise. Through Leading On Opportunity's community-informed strategies: we ENGAGE diverse voices uplifting community; we AMPLIFY stories and data shifting the narrative and celebrating community success; we INFLUENCE policies and practices building public will and shared community accountability ultimately resulting in transformative CHANGE.

How We Work
Our Opportunity System Strategy

Our Focus

Our community’s greatest leverage for tackling intergenerational poverty and breaking down barriers to economic opportunity will come from focusing on systemic and structural change.

Our Focus
  • Cross-Cutting Factor

    The Impact of Segregation

    The Impact of Segregation

    Data clearly emphasizes Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s profound segregation by both race and income, and how significant a barrier it is to opportunity.

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  • Determinant

    Early Care & Education

    Early Care & Education

    A child’s earliest years have a profound and lasting impact on their school success, their career success, and their lives.

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  • Determinant

    College & Career Readiness

    College & Career Readiness

    Two of every three new jobs now require some level of postsecondary education—training credentials, an associate degree, a four-year degree, or higher.

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  • Determinant

    Child & Family Stability

    Child & Family Stability

    Common sense suggests and research confirms that children and youth do best in stable households where they know what to expect and where they feel safe and secure.

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  • Cross-Cutting Factor

    Social Capital

    Social Capital

    Just as segregation cuts across all the determinants, social capital also carries tremendous power to influence outcomes in each of the areas.

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Our Staff

Agents of Change

Building pathways of opportunities.

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Our Staff
Featured Partners

Working Together

We are grateful to so many organizations that support us in our mission.

All Partners