Politics & Government

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts announces new group to boost after-school programs

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts announces Tuesday that formation of a new organization, Charlotte Next, that will help parents find after-school programs for their middle school students.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts announces Tuesday that formation of a new organization, Charlotte Next, that will help parents find after-school programs for their middle school students. Steve Harrison/sharrison@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts announced Tuesday the formation of a new organization, Charlotte Next, that will help parents find the best out-of-school program for middle school students.

Creating that program was one of Roberts’ campaign pledges, and she has been able to launch the organization without any public money so far.

The group will not provide funding for parents to send kids to after-school programs. Instead, it will be a clearinghouse organization that will help parents find the best place to send their child. It also will work to improve after-school programs by recommending best practices.

Charlotte Next will also try to offer small grants to after-school programs that need financial assistance.

“This was one of my central promises,” Roberts said. “In every neighborhood I visited I heard about this problem.”

Charlotte Next will be run in partnership with Meck Ed, a nonprofit advocacy group for children’s education. It will funded by private donations, including grants from Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

The first year’s budget is expected to be about $200,000.

Roberts tied the program’s creation in part to the riots and protests in September following the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Roberts said she started working on Charlotte Next long before the shooting, but she said the program will ensure “all communities are included.”

The idea of an organization to help parents find the best after-school program isn’t new. A Charlotte nonprofit, Child Care Resources, has been doing that since 1982. That group only focuses on programs for elementary school students.

Roberts said Tuesday that Child Care Resources wants to help ensure Charlotte Next is successful, but it wants to focus on working with elementary school programs.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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