The history of public education in Charlotte is wrought with a legacy of trying to address the need for equity. From desegregation through bussing (Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 1971) to urban enrichment (Project LIFT, 2011), these attempts have struggled to sustain positive impacts on educational outcomes.

In an analysis of income mobility from a Harvard study (2014), Charlotte ranked last among the top 50 of the largest urban centers. In conjunction with research by the Brookings Institute (2014) that 85% of economic position is inherited by the age of 25, 10% of individuals fair worse than their parents/guardians, and only 5% do better. Based on this research, unless born into privilege it is nearly impossible to be financially independent by the age of 25 in Charlotte.

According to the landmark research by the National Center for Educational Statistics (1966), fatherlessness is the most significant contributor to poverty. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2017), less than 1 in 5 young men in Charlotte live with their fathers.

Program Outline

  •   The program outline centers around the development of Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, and Discipline

  •   Each cohort meets once a week, each week being devoted to specific types of engagements

  •   Leadership and Life Skills Development 

        -   Students will do character studies on various leaders, anchored by a year-long study on Martin Luther King, Jr.  

  •   Student presentations and discussion 

        -   Students will explore how the lessons of each meeting apply to their lives  

        -   Students will complete an independent character study on a leader of their choice 

  •   Guest Speakers 


·        Mentoring of younger men at local elementary school

·        Community service partnership with local high school’s
         Exceptional Children department

·        Organizing and distributing gifts during the holidays with local non-profit

·        Preparing and serving meals for members of the community

·        Refurbishing basketball courts at local recreation center

·        Community service with local political support groups

·        Individual community service projects

Field Trips & Speakers:

·    Historical and academic tours to local community       

      colleges, tech schools, and universities

·    Tour of prominent local businesses

·    Teambuilding activities at local recreation center

·    Guest speakers and subject matter experts

      pertaining to each of the core value areas


·    Annual cookout

·    Wilderness experiences

·    Athletic activities

·    Senior Spring Retreat

·    Movie and game nights

    ·    Annual cookout

    ·    Wilderness experiences

    ·    Athletic activities

    ·    Senior Spring Retreat

    ·    Movie and game nights

    Our Success

    Personal Growth

    • Development of interpersonal goals to support family growth
    • Community service with other non-profits
    • Increase in non-academic activities and clubs
    • Increased participation in athletics and fine arts
    • Decrease in disciplinary referrals and criminal behavior

    Career Growth

    • 60% of students have held a job in high school
    • 100% of program graduates are employed
    • 60% of graduates are in post-secondary or trade school
    • All post-graduates are currently employed in a career field of their choice

    Academic Growth

    • 100 % graduation rate
    • 600% increase in enrollment in advanced classes from 9th grade to 11th grade
    • GPA increase from 10th to 12th grade

    Program Growth

    • Development from a school-based program to an independent non-profit organization
    • Retention rates in the program have increased from 50% to 80% in four years
    • Repeated and increasing collaborations between LEAD Charlotte and community partners