We are agents for change.

Who We Are

Leading on Opportunity, an entity of the Foundation For The Carolinas, is here to support Charlotte on its generations-long journey to improve economic mobility for all. Using strategy, policy and data, we help partners across Charlotte-Mecklenburg solve complex social challenges that no single person or organization can tackle on their own.

A Message From Our Executive Director

In 2020, LOO entered its execution phase. Executive director Sherri Chisholm started her tenure and rebuilt the team with subject matter experts, expanded the Council and established College and Career Readiness as the determinant of focus. LOO also focused on creating the Opportunity Compass which is now available on the website for everyone to use. The Compass is a data visualization tool to measure Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s collective progress and guide strategy toward improving economic mobility.

“This is a community that cares about all its children – regardless of their income, background, race, or zip code – where ALL children should feel like they belong, are supported in dreaming big and provided opportunities to achieve those dreams.”

We engage diverse voices uplifting community and stakeholders.

We analyze data to inform the narrative and create a common metric to determine both the gaps and the progress.

We influence policies and practices to create transformative and long-lasting change.

Our stakeholders are committed individuals, grassroots community leaders, activists, politicians, businesses, government institutions, communities of faith, and nonprofits dedicated to lifting families out of poverty. Our community’s greatest leverage for tackling intergenerational poverty and breaking down barriers to economic opportunity will come from focusing on systemic and structural change. Decreasing intergenerational poverty requires focusing on advancing systemic and structural change.

Together, we can create new pathways of opportunity so every child, youth, and family in Charlotte-Mecklenburg can rise.

Our History

In 2014, the Chetty Study ranked Charlotte last among the 50 largest US cities and Mecklenburg 99 out of 100 counties in upward mobility. It was a wake-up call for some, and an overdue acknowledgement for others. Charlotte responded with urgency and determination to improve upward mobility for residents who have not benefited from the region’s prosperity. In response, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force led by Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown and Dee O’Dell, released the Opportunity Task Force Report intended to be a living document offering 21 strategies, multiple recommendations and tactics to improve upward mobility.

Leading on Opportunity was created in 2017. It is led by an advisory board of external community and corporate leaders known as the Leading On Opportunity Council. Retired Bank of America executive Andrea Smith and former Teacher of the Year James Ford were the inaugural co-chairs.

Between 2018 –2019 Leading on Opportunity was in its pioneering phase. The team planted seeds for economic mobility work through relationships.

Beginning in 2020, LOO entered its execution phase. Executive Director Sherri Chisholm started her tenure and focused on rebuilding a team of subject matter experts, expanding the Council and establishing College and Career Readiness as the determinant of focus. We also focused on creating a measuring tool called the Opportunity Compass which is now available for everyone to use. The Opportunity Compass is a data visualization tool for measuring and aligning Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s collective efforts towards improving economic mobility.

Our Areas of Focus

Leading on Opportunity has five areas of focus. We take a systemic approach to addressing the key determinants of early care and education, child and family stability and college and career readiness while simultaneously focusing on the cross-cutting factors of the impact of segregation and social capital. When addressed together, we believe these can have the greatest impacts on the opportunity trajectory of an individual.

Early Care & Education

Child & Family Stability

College & Career Readiness

The Impact of Segregation

Social Capital