Leading on Opportunity Presents a Day of Opportunity: Connect, Commit, Empower

— Our role at Leading on Opportunity, under the dedicated leadership of our Council and staff, is to boldly influence systems change, igniting and inspiring collective community action. Our Opportunity Movement focuses in five areas: reducing the impact of segregation to foster inclusion and equity, improving early care and education, expanding college and career readiness, enhancing child and family stability, along with increasing social capital. We work alongside the community in four ways: Engage, Amplify, Influence, Change.

Leading on Opportunity was founded for the very purpose of increasing pathways of opportunity for children, youth and families in Charlotte. And in the two years since we launched, the conversations around economic mobility have increased. And gotten MUCH louder. The reason is largely because of the people who have lifted up the voices of those unheard. You have put Charlotte’s economic mobility at the forefront of conversation. And it isn’t just talk. Like so many other concerned Charlotteans, you have begun to walk the walk.

At the 2-year anniversary of the creation of Leading on Opportunity, over 500 people gathered at Founders Hall focused on the theme: Connect, Commit, Empower. Hosted by Bank of America, Foundation For The Carolinas and Leading on Opportunity, our theme was a very intentional choice. We know one person or organization alone can’t solve the issues Charlotte is facing. That would be far too daunting a challenge. It will take all of us connecting—pulling together our collective will—to make a change. It will take a commitment from all of us to take the small steps that will ultimately lead to the big change we all know is in store for this city. And it will take all of us in this room to empower those outside of it—our friends, our families, our neighbors, our colleagues—to join us in moving the needle.

Our role at Leading on Opportunity, under the dedicated leadership of our Council and staff, is to boldly influence systems change, igniting and inspiring collective community action. Our Opportunity Movement focuses in five areas: reducing the impact of segregation to foster inclusion and equity, improving early care and education, expanding college and career readiness, enhancing child and family stability, along with increasing social capital. We work alongside the community in four ways: Engage, Amplify, Influence, Change.

  • Engage: Connect, convene and uplift community, build shared understanding and shared commitment across stakeholders, identify community assets, intersections and gaps, improve collaboration, coordination and alignment among systems.
  • Amplify: Communicate stories and data changing the narrative to create paradigm and mindset shifts, showcase and share community successes.
  • Influence: Champion and advocate for stronger policies, practices and funding to accelerate change, building public will and shared accountability for community-led actions and solutions.
  • Change: Aggregate data and identify relevant metrics co-creating a Community Opportunity Dashboard of shared outcomes to measure impact, success and ignite change.

Our Community's Collective Commitment:

During our Day of Opportunity, Leading on Opportunity Co-Chairs Andrea B. Smith and James E. Ford, Executive Director Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter and Council member Dr. Michael Marsicano shared reflections on the past two years and the work ahead. They were joined by Leading on Opportunity Council members Erin Barbee, Laura Clark, Jesse Cureton, Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Dena Diorio, Miriam Espaillat, Dee O'Dell, Edwin Peacock and Dr. Clayton Wilcox; as well as Leading on Opportunity Community Impact Directors: Kevin Loux, Yuly Rodriguez and Don Thomas.

We also featured 14 Nonprofit Expo Partners who joined us to share their work: Community Building Initiative, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool, Read Charlotte, Common Wealth Charlotte, Year Up Charlotte, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Camino Community Center, Carolina Youth Coalition, Charlotte Works, YWCA Central Carolinas, MECK Pre-K, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Intentional Movement and Race Matters for Juvenile Justice.

More than 250 additional photos with highlights from the day are on on our Facebook page here. Thank you for joining us for our Day of Opportunity!