In an unprecedented report last year on economic mobility in Charlotte, social capital emerged as one of two cross-cutting factors that impact economic opportunity for children and youth who grow up in low-opportunity neighborhoods.
The Leading on Opportunity report defines social capital as “networks, connections, and access to people who produce information, resources, and opportunities” and notes that people with ample social capital are typically paid better, promoted at younger ages, more likely to obtain loans, get capital for starting a business, and build successful businesses and careers.
Social capital, the task force said, “may, indeed, be the ‘secret sauce’ for creating greater access to opportunity for our children and youth” and recommended that all students have access to a “Life Navigator” to help expose, navigate, and connect them to career, educational, and life opportunities.
Acting on the Leading On Opportunity report, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation – a regional affiliate and grantmaking arm of Foundation For The Carolinas — recently offered, for the first time, Social Capital grants that focus on “Life Navigators,” mentors and sponsors who can cultivate social capital and develop pathways to opportunity.
Grants totaling more than $150,000 were awarded to 16 area organizations for 2018:
• $10,000 to QC Family Tree to fund the Youth Leadership Development Team, connecting youth with opportunities inside and outside their neighborhoods, developing leadership skills and building relationships across the community for future advancement.
• $7,500 to YWCA Central Carolinas to support Building Social Capital: Finding Unity In YWCA’s Mission, building social capital through meaningful annual events with a focus on volunteerism, philanthropy and civic engagement around issues pertinent to YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women.
• $9,000 to Fulton Mentoring Initiative, Inc. for the Social Capital Mentoring Collaborative program, supporting mentees through exposure to new opportunities, networking, navigating barriers to success and teaching new life skills.
• $10,000 to The Arts Empowerment Project for Nurturing Social Capital, providing access to the arts for at-risk children and youth with the goal of improving community relations, life skills and literacy.
• $9,650 to Andreas H. Bechtler Arts Foundation for its Creating Social Capital through Inmate Arts Programming. Through different media, inmates are challenged to consider and articulate how their social circumstances and personal choices played a role in their incarceration.
• $10,000 to Behailu Academy to fund its Meals, Minds, and Movement program, convening a diverse group of stakeholders monthly for a meal, dialogue and connecting. In culmination, participants will create a public mural reflecting the project.
• $10,000 to Community School of the Arts to support the Project Harmony program, an intensive orchestra outreach program for at-risk elementary school children in underserved Charlotte communities.
• $10,000 to Generation Nation to support the Youth Leadership Charlotte-Mecklenburg program, connecting youth from different schools and backgrounds to foster awareness of community history, challenges, and opportunities
• $13,860 to North Carolina Outward Bound School to expand its Charlotte Unity Project, which empowers emerging leaders as change agents. A weeklong Outward Bound course builds social capital and leads to projects designed to promote schoolwide social capital.
• $8,000 to Opera Carolina to fund its I DREAM Education & Community Initiative. A new R&B opera, I DREAM, renews Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message and courageous leadership, and explores these themes through an education & community initiative.
• $12,000 to Police Activities League Charlotte to support its ACCESS PAL program, exposing youth to opportunities they may normally not have, and aiming to break the cycle of generational poverty and missed opportunities.
• $5,000 to Que-Os to support BOOM Charlotte 2018, an annual showcase of experimental/ contemporary art presented by local/national artists, creatives, and grassroots organizations.
• $10,000 to Schools for Education Reform NC, organizing efforts to amplify the voices of students and families in shaping public education. Students that are not normally at the table will have the tools to advocate and organize, so decisions reflect the needs and concerns of underrepresented communities.
• $5,000 to Sustain Charlotte to fund A Voice At The Table: Neighborhood-based Equity Partnership program, building a culture in which residents have an active, informed voice in transportation and land use decisions affecting their quality of life.
• $10,000 to Women’s Inter-cultural Exchange for its Mentoring Across Difference program expansion and evaluation. Working with Johnson C. Smith University, Queens University, UNC- Charlotte and other regional colleges, as well as 15 young women from Garinger High School.
• $10,000 to 100 Words Film Festival to support the 100 Words Film Festival Student Mentorship Program. Students are matched with industry professionals to create a 100 Words Film that tells the story of a charitable organization in their community.
For more information, contact the individual grantees.
Read the full Leading on Opportunity report.