Charlotte is still a city led by its major corporate executives. That group took two public steps on Thursday toward working on issues around inequality in the city.
The separate actions were announced in press conferences Uptown. They came just weeks after protests in the center of Charlotte.
The demonstrations were a reaction to the officer-involved shooting death of an African-American man in north Charlotte. But they exposed deeper rifts between perception and reality in Charlotte, and between the haves and have nots in the current local economy.
The first is a movement called One Charlotte.
It’s unclear immediately what specific actions they will take, but the plan is to figure out how to invest in the community’s critical needs.
These include investing in neighborhoods in need, supporting other efforts like the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force, expanding job opportunities and investing in the criminal justice system.
The effort is being spearheaded by Jesse Cureton, the chief consumer officer of Novant Health. Other leaders include:
- Vicki Foster, deputy chief, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
- Bishop Wade Ferguson, pastor, 15th Street Church of God
- Debra Plousha Moore, chief of staff, Carolinas HealthCare System
- Marcus Plescia, health director, Mecklenburg County Health Department
- Brett Carter, COO of global technology and operations, Bank of America
The first event will be a march on November 6 from Trade and Tryon to Romare Bearden Park.
The second is around the county’s efforts to expand early childhood education.
The effort is linked to the Opportunity Task Force, which has identified opportunities before kindergarten as a key way to close achievement gaps down the line.
“We cannot assume all children arrive at kindergarten with similar skills and experiences,” co-chairman Dee O’Dell said at a press conference Thursday.
Mecklenburg County commissioners chairman Trevor Fuller announced that they’ve received a $500,000 commitment from Charlotte corporate leaders to fund a study of how the county could create universal pre-Kindergarten — something cities like Denver and Seattle have implemented.
“The question is, why can’t we?” Fuller said.
The study would include community engagement and coming up with ways to fund universal pre-K, lobby for it at the state capital and how to phase it in.
Mecklenburg County has selected the Early Learning Policy Group out of D.C. to carry out the study.