UrbanPromise Charlotte’s mission is to provide Charlotte’s children and youth with the spiritual, academic, and social development necessary to become Christian leaders determined to restore their communities.
OUR THEORY OF CHANGE
Did you know it’s harder for a child to rise out of poverty in Charlotte than in any other major U.S. city ? Education and employment are key levers for transcending poverty, but, while Charlotte’s most affluent high schools boast nearly 100% graduation rates, several of Charlotte’s lowest-income schools graduate less than 60% of their students . Employment opportunities diminish for students who aren’t able to graduate from high school. And, thus, the cycle of poverty often continues.
UrbanPromise’s ultimate goal is to empower a new generation of indigenous Christian leaders that is equipped and determined to make Charlotte a fully integrated city where social, spiritual, and economic capital flow between neighborhoods. We seek this transformation through a three-pronged approach: REACH A CHILD. RAISE A LEADER. RESTORE COMMUNITY.
REACH A CHILD
Through our AfterSchool and Summer Camp programs, UrbanPromise provides opportunities for elementary and middle school students to improve their academic performance, develop necessary life skills, create positive relationships with caring adults, explore the arts, and nurture their faith.
UrbanPromise currently serves around 275 students in three Charlotte neighborhoods.
RAISE A LEADER
Through our unique StreetLeader Program, UrbanPromise employs high school students as counselors, tutors, and mentors for the children who attend our programs. The heart of the StreetLeader Program is challenging teens to use their influence to make positive changes in the lives of children, in their own lives, and throughout their communities. Our StreetLeaders live in the same neighborhoods as the campers they serve.
In addition to employment, StreetLeaders receive extensive job training, tutoring, college preparation, professional counseling, and mentoring to help them succeed in and outside of the program.
Over the last five years, 100% of our 68 senior StreetLeaders have graduated on time and received college acceptance. Almost all are first-generation college students.
UrbanPromise currently employs around 100 StreetLeaders in three Charlotte neighborhoods.
After high school graduation, UrbanPromise utilizes staff and mentors to offer measures of support to students as they continue their academic journeys. Because we know minorities and low-income youth are less likely than their peers to obtain a summer job or find post-grad employment, we are in the process of developing partnerships with businesses and corporations here in Charlotte to encourage StreetLeaders to return to their city and infuse it with their valuable leadership.
how is the urbanpromise model different?
‣ Our Commitment to Youth Leadership: Many organizations strive to enroll students in tutoring programs or summer camps, but no other organization employs, empowers, and challenges high school students to be the leaders of change in their own neighborhoods to the extent we do at UrbanPromise.
‣ Our Commitment to Holistic Development in Children and Youth: UrbanPromise’s combination of high-level academic instruction, life skill development, and faith-based character education provides children and youth with holistic development.
‣ Long-Term Commitment to Children, Youth, and Communities: Children do not just walk through UrbanPromise’s doors for a single summer or single school year. Our connected AfterSchool Programs and Summer Camps provide students with year-round support. As students move into high school, our StreetLeader Program offers a unique opportunity to take a leadership role in UrbanPromise programs.
UrbanPromise Charlotte’s founder, Jimmy McQuilkin, arrived in Charlotte in 2009 as a Teach For America corps member. He spent four years teaching high school Spanish and coaching basketball at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology. During his time at Berry, Jimmy experienced tremendous joys and formed deep relationships with his students. However, he also found himself longing to develop a program where students could discover hope and purpose, experience character development, and come alive through leadership opportunities.
In the summer of 2011, Jimmy worked as a summer camp director with UrbanPromise Honduras. As he worked with the youth in Copan Ruinas and witnessed God’s impact on the community through UrbanPromise, he realized that the UrbanPromise model would be a perfect fit for Charlotte.
After sharing his vision with UrbanPromise founder Bruce Main, Jimmy launched UrbanPromise Charlotte in the fall of 2013 in the South Boulevard Corridor. In the fall of 2016, UrbanPromise Charlotte launched a second site off of Freedom Drive. UrbanPromise started its third site off of Idlewild Road in the fall of 2017.