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Help us crack the code on economic mobility

Charlotte-Mecklenburg faces a daunting economic opportunity challenge, and as co-chairs of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force, we invite everyone in the community to participate with us in finding solutions.

Last year, our community learned a hard truth when a study from Harvard University and UC-Berkeley placed the Charlotte area last in a list of 50 communities ranked by economic mobility. This means that a child born to a lower income family in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is less likely to move up the economic ladder than in most other cities.

This reality is hard to accept. After all, our community is known as a place where people can make the most of their potential if they strive to achieve. But we also know that there are very real barriers for too many. For the sake of future generations, we must significantly lower or remove those barriers to upward mobility. Doing so will create a more robust and vibrant city and county, one that can compete on a global stage and can be proud of the access to opportunity for all of its residents.

With leadership and support from Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, the Knight Foundation, the John M. Belk Endowment and Foundation for the Carolinas, our community is responding. The members of the volunteer Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force will work hard over the coming months to gain knowledge and perspective and then develop actionable recommendations.

Our goal is to deliver these recommendations in late 2016. While the Task Force is committed to doing the heavy lifting to develop actionable recommendations, the most effective solutions will be the ones we find together. Here’s how we’ll do it:

First, we will educate ourselves and get clear understanding of the complex forces underlying the challenge. We will use credible data and we will learn from the real stories of people in our community.

Second, we will explore options. We know we cannot successfully address all of the issues, so we will prioritize.

Finally, we will develop recommendations. We have a bias for action and will create recommendations that will guide near term action with a goal of long-term, sustainable change.

Let’s get started. The Task Force is creating a variety of options for participation along the way for people and organizations across Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Throughout the process, the Task Force will share what we’re learning at key milestones and update the community through local traditional media, social media, neighborhood and community-wide events. We are listening, and we want everyone’s voice to be heard.

We know that our economic opportunity challenges won’t be easy to address. Measurable change might not be seen for some time. But together, we can find solutions that will ensure that opportunity is unlocked for everyone in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

To find out more and join the effort, go to opportunitycharmeck.org or call 704-973-4542.

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