Partner Stories: How GardHouse is Creating Opportunity for College Students

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The work of eliminating systemic racial and other barriers to opportunity requires a community of service providers who create access to early care and education, stability for children and families, career pathways, and social capital. Our community partner GardHouse is creating opportunity by developing college students of color into the next generation of workforce leaders and pairing them with Black-owned businesses in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

According to founder, Jonathan Gardner, students of color were twice as likely to be unemployed upon graduation from college. That statistic was the impetus behind his mission to create a work-based program that focused specifically on advancing opportunity for this demographic. What distinguishes his organization is its emphasis on identifying students' strengths, then connecting them to the profession that would be the best fit. From paid internships to professional and personal development workshops, GardHouse has created a community of support in which students can thrive. The organization also shines a light on Black-owned businesses in Charlotte, further the social capital of students and employers.

This summer, Gardner implemented the "Summer at GardHouse" job placement initiative to provide a pipeline for students of color to work with businesses owned by people of color and dispel the myth that both are in short supply. Under this program, students will apply to complete short-term projects for previously vetted business entities in order to boost their resume and income. Follow GardHouse on social media @gardhouseclt or visit their website at