Opportunity Task Force Report

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Letter from the Task Force

March 2017

Dear Community Members,

In the last two years, our community has learned–and relearned–a hard truth that has been difficult for some to accept: access to economic opportunity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is far too often aligned with the zip code where one lives. For every young person with a bright spark of hope and a pathway for his or her future, there is another, not so far away, living day to day without the necessities to light his or her own path.

Our community is not unique. We live in a country that faces the inheritance of inequity daily, but has very little sense of how to address it together. A fear of unfamiliar people and ideas has crept into our politics and policies, leading us to focus ever inward. Our communities are divided by race and income. Our true neighbors are fewer. The circumstances of our daily lives and the way in which our community has physically evolved over time often inhibit us from crossing paths and knowing people whose lives are different from ours. Some of us are fearful of the differences and changes occurring around us; many of us are naturally inclined to stay close to the worlds we know; and others of us are not as aware as we would hope.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg stands at a crossroads. We must decide whether to remain distant from one another, or to join hands to build a better future for our city and county. This choice will determine the potential of generations to come.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force includes twenty people charged with the responsibility of devising a path forward. Task Force members believe we must seize the moment we have inherited. All residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, regardless of position or particular interest, must come together with lasting resolve and common purpose to make a pledge to the future of our community. At the heart of this pledge must be a firm commitment to the most vulnerable, and yet the most promising members of our population—our children and youth.

The work begins today to ensure Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a place that honors the spark in young people and ensures they have the tools and opportunities to thrive. Our vision is ambitious but attainable. We need only the courage to confront what may hurt, embrace that which will help, and sustain collective action in the spirit of truth, trust, and compromise.

We ask that you join us on this journey for our future.


  • Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, Co-Chair, Senior Vice President, Community Wellness and Education, Novant Health
  • Mr. Dee O’Dell, Co-Chair, Senior Vice President
  • Ms. Crandall Bowles, Retired CEO, Springs Global
  • Dr. David Chadwick, Pastor, Forest Hill Church
  • Mr. Jeffrey A. Conway, Franchise Owner, Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Mr. Esteban Echeverria, Attorney at Law
  • Dr. Michael Friedland, Founder, Friedland Foundation, Physician, Carolinas HealthCare System
  • Mr. Dale Gillmore, Founder/Chair – Make An Impact Foundation, Partner – Viking Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Dr. Tisha Greene, Principal, Oakhurst STEAM Academy
  • Mr. Alvaro Gurdián Jr., Vice President of Operations, La Noticia
  • Ms. Grazell Howard, Strategic Business Consultant, King & Kairos
  • Mr. Ron Leeper, President & Owner, R.J. Leeper Construction
  • Ms. Marianne Lyall-Knusel, Associate Dean, College and Career Readiness, Central Piedmont Community College
  • Mr. Matt Martin, Regional Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond – Charlotte Branch
  • Rev. Clifford Matthews, Pastor, St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church
  • Ms. Felicia McAdoo, Retired, Chief Deputy, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ms. Symone McGee, Manager of High School Initiatives, YMCA of Greater Charlotte
  • Mr. Barry Sherman, Social Worker, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • Mr. Andrew Plepler, Environmental, Social and Governance Executive, Bank of America
  • Dr. Ricky Woods, Minister, First Baptist Church West

Sponsor Acknowledgement

We are grateful to our sponsors for their support of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force work and report:

  • Foundation For The Carolinas
  • Mecklenburg County
  • City of Charlotte
  • John M. Belk Endowment
  • Knight Foundation
  • Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
  • Charlotte Will