A Harvard University/UC-Berkeley study revealed that Charlotte ranked 50th out of 50 on a list titled “Intergenerational Mobility in the 50 Largest Commuting Zones.”
“Education equals opportunity,” said Neal Emmons, founder of Project One. “It’s crucial to breaking generational cycles of poverty.”
Emmons started POSF in 2009 to “pay it forward.” A family friend paid for his college education, and he wanted to help do the same for other kids in single-parent homes. “It’s extremely tough for kids from low-income, single-parent families to escape poverty,” he said. “What we’re doing for this demographic is crucial – and it happens to align with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force recommendations.”
POSF offers scholarships to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students planning to attend a N.C. state-supported college or university. Recipients must have a GPA of 3.0 or above, demonstrate initiative, come from a single-parent home whose income is at or below 200 percent of poverty rate. The student is required to apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
One Task Force strategy is to “broaden the range of and access to high-quality college and career pathways … ensuring all students have access to and support for the full range of opportunities.”
“Access and support – not every parent is equipped to offer those things to a child,” Emmons said. “If you’re struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck, paying for college may not even be on your radar. And given that some CMS guidance counselors are responsible for between 200 and 300 kids, you can see how easy it is for some kids to fall through the cracks.”