[CHARLOTTE, NC – NOVEMBER 15, 2017] The YMCA of Greater Charlotte has received $750,000 to fuel the expansion of a program designed to improve the trajectory of teens in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s opportunity gap. At its Better Together Celebration on Wednesday, Y leaders announced donations of $500,000 from The Gambrell Foundation and $250,000 from the Howard R. Levine Foundation to fund an expanded version of Summer of Opportunity, a youth program piloted this summer by the YMCA, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) and 15 nonprofit agencies to reduce crime, build trust between teens and police officers and change the outcome for youth living in areas that have little access to economic mobility.
The pilot of Summer of Opportunity provided youth ages 13 to 18 free access to three YMCAs on Friday and Saturday nights. Trained staff and volunteers engaged teens in structured programming in addition to social time with friends in activities like basketball, swimming, fitness and art. Summer of Opportunity served more than 1000 teens with the support of 333 volunteer mentors. The program is patterned on successful programs in Boston and Los Angeles.
“Summer of Opportunity aligns with recommendations of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force and addresses the need for early interventions in life,” said YMCA of Greater Charlotte CEO Todd Tibbits. “The biggest factor in addressing issues like teen crime is preventing it from happening in the first place. With our partner agencies, we replace idle time with a safe environment, positive role models and transformational experiences that broaden horizons. We are grateful to The Gambrell Foundation and the Howard R. Levine Foundation, both representing local families who believe that access to enrichment and education lead to a better life and a stronger community for all.”
Building on the successful pilot, and thanks to the generosity of The Gambrell Foundation and the Howard R. Levine Foundation, the Y and its partner agencies like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Communities In Schools will expand the initiative to encompass a 12-month strategy. During the school year, teens will have access to programming aimed at connecting them to role models and resources that develop interpersonal skills, promote academic achievement and improve outcomes. Access will include regular teen nights at four Y branches – the Keith Family, McCrorey, Simmons and Stratford Richardson YMCAs - and participation in Y Achievers, the Y’s evidence-based college and career readiness program offered in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at nine Title 1 high schools. Regular participation will also be rewarded with YMCA membership access and scholarship opportunities for summer camp and after-school activities. The program name is being developed by teens.
“The Gambrell Foundation is honored to partner with the YMCA and the Howard R. Levine Foundation to ensure the youth of our community have expanded access to these vital enrichment programs,” said Sally Gambrell, CEO of the Gambrell Foundation.
“This program provides an opportunity for our community to redirect a risky path for our most underserved youth,” said Howard Levine. “I hope this gift inspires more community partners to get behind our teens by providing the resources, encouragement and connections that give hope for a more successful future.”
The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is one of the region’s largest providers of youth programs and served approximately 5,600 unique teens across 19 branches in 2017. An estimated 1,500 students are expected to participate in the year-round opportunity program delivered by the YMCA, CMPD, 15 agencies and 400 volunteers. The Y and its partners are accountable for measuring progress including the graduation rate, increased GPA and post-secondary enrollment of participants. To enroll, students must show a school identification card, schedule or report card and provide parent or guardian permission. Interested community volunteers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704-716-6388.
About the YMCA of Greater Charlotte
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte, comprised of 19 membership locations and two resident camps, engages approximately 274,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Deeply rooted in the community for more than 140 years, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. www.ymcacharlotte.org
About the Gambrell Foundation
The Gambrell Foundation dedicates its resources, efforts and collaborative spirit to ending inequity in our society through strategic investments in smart, effective and innovative change initiatives that drive results. We believe that everyone deserves a seat at the table and that better solutions and ideas are developed in partnership with the communities we serve.