Women & Wisdom: Land of Opportunity??? What’s Next for Charlotte?

by C.T. Anderson

It is harder to escape poverty in Charlotte than in any other big city in the country. This statistic and the 2014 Harvard and UC Berkeley study behind it have been integral to the work of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force (OTF). On March 27, 2017, twenty diverse and committed members of the OTF will issue a much-anticipated 100+ page report with recommendations to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty in our community.

Brian Collier, EVP of Foundation For The Carolinas, presented on the OTF’s findings to nearly 200 WIF members and guests on March 14. While Collier was unable to share specific recommendations prior to the March 27 report release, he gave insights on the OTF’s process and key determinants of economic mobility.

Research was paramount. Having learned from foremost experts and by listening to Mecklenburg County citizens, the OTF determined that economic mobility is a highly complex challenge for our community. To break the cycle of poverty, there must be a focus on key determinants from cradle to career.

Click picture to view more images from the event

The OTF identified six determinants:
– early childhood development and education
– family stability
– impacts of segregation
– college and career readiness
– social capital
– family formation and structure

These determinants anchor the forthcoming OTF recommendations and touch on priorities of parenting, housing, criminal justice, healthcare, education and literacy, role models, employment and more.

Once the report is made public later this month, the OTF will conclude its work. At that point, implementation is critical, not only in the short-term, but — in order to interrupt a generational pattern — over the next 20-30 years.

How can WIF participate? The OTF hopes for a shift in mindset throughout our entire community. A panel of government and non-profit leaders spoke after Collier’s report and called on members of WIF to have courageous conversations within our networks to raise awareness of the economic mobility issue. Collier suggested that WIF continue to give strategically with a lens of opportunity and to give careful consideration to funding in the early childhood area.