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Leading on Opportunity – The Opportunity Task Force’s call to action

March 31, 2017

opportunityBy Emily Elliott

Alarmingly, Charlotte and Atlanta ranked 50th out of 50 in economic mobility among the largest U.S. cities in a 2013 Harvard / UC Berkley study. A $400,000 report summarizing 18 months of research by Charlotte’s Opportunity Task Force was released last Monday 3/27/17.

This 97-page document outlines 21 strategies and over 80 recommendations for our community. Here are a few points:

– The report mentions the value of students having “Life Navigators” as early as 7th grade and career awareness as early as 3rd grade. Speakers at Monday’s presentation referenced “an army of volunteers” and emphasized what a positive force social capital is on our community when we proactively build it.

– Public education reform was largely excluded, for purposes stated in the report, aside from encouraging CMS to be bold in its school assignment goals and to ensure the quality of a high-school diploma. According the report, 70% of CMS graduates entering CPCC require remediation in math and/or reading before they can take college-level classes.

– We should be proud of our community’s efforts to double the literacy rate to 80% by 2025 through Read Charlotte, hailed in the report for its systems-level approach and impact. Though little attention in the report was given to math skills, I am confident that the community will also leverage research indicating that early math skills are strong predictors of future success across subjects. (Duncan, Magnuson, Pagani, Romano, Babchishin, with various studies from 2007 – 2010)

– The sections on Segregation and Social Capital bookend the report. Heart tutors work in high-poverty concentration schools and see the impacts of these factors weekly.

Read the report and its recommendations here.

While the report makes it clear Charlotte has a long way to go, I hope as Heart volunteers, supporters, and partners, you know that you are making a tangible, immediate impact on students. Thank you for your work with Heart!


Heart Math Tutoring is a math intervention program supporting 750 weekly volunteer tutors across 12 CMS high-poverty elementary schools. Students build foundational math skills and enthusiasm for academics needed for long-term success.

“Heart volunteers provide invaluable encouragement and positive influence, delivering a message to our students from the broader community: ‘We care about you. Your education is important to us.’” – Regina J. Boyd, Former Principal at Winterfield Elementary (2014)


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