How Children Are Succeeding in Charlotte’s Grier Heights Neighborhood
Childhood success starts with the neighborhood we grow up in.
Grier Heights, a historically middle-income black community located just three miles south of uptown Charlotte, has seen its share of challenges over the decades. Drugs pervaded the area in the 1980s and 1990s, coupled with low rates of educational attainment and homeownership, and high rates of poverty, unemployment and crime.
In 2015, the number of violent crimes in Grier Heights was over four times Mecklenburg County’s average. And just a few years ago only 17 percent of the community’s elementary students were achieving end-of-grade proficiency.
These conditions are changing as United Way, local nonprofits, residents and other stakeholders work together to improve the quality of life in Grier Heights through access to quality education, health, financial stability and community resources. This work is bolstered by the support of our United Neighborhoods initiative, which works with community quarterbacks to fund and guide efforts toward building thriving neighborhoods where families want to live, while generating outcomes that can impact multiple generations.
From tutoring and literacy resources to high-quality preschool programs, here are some of our United Neighborhoods partners helping children succeed in Grier Heights:
The Augustine Literacy Project tutors students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and are reading below grade level. The literacy project partners with Title I elementary schools including Billingsville Leadership Academy in Grier Heights. Results show students who’ve attended at least 30 tutoring sessions have boosted their reading fluency and improved spelling scores by an entire grade level.
Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center knows that for the children to learn at their fullest potential, they need to be empowered to voice their ideas and listen to lessons. The nonprofit offers services like language and literacy programs, preschool screenings, hearing evaluations and more. The nonprofit has also provided nearly 250 digital hearing aids for children in need.
Freedom School Partners provides quality summer programming for students in grades K-8 at 17 locations across Charlotte, including Alexander Graham Middle School in Grier Heights. Through a partnership with the school and CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development Inc., the nonprofit provides a six-week program for 70 students (grades two-eight) in Grier Heights. The program focuses on school and character skills that lead to positive academic and life outcomes.
Heart Math Tutoring is focused on increasing the number of students proficient in math at Billingsville Leadership Academy in Grier Heights. The tutoring service provides activity-based instruction to at school, including during after-school hours. With the help of volunteer tutors, 78 percent of students served during the 2018-19 school year showed improvement in four or more concept areas.
The Learning Collaborative is a comprehensive preschool program in Grier Heights with hands-on involvement between teachers, students, families, patrons and the community. The program provides daily transportation, hot meals and speech language and literacy development for young students, and partners with other community organizations to create a holistic curriculum. Results show children who participate in the program have increased language scores to the 75th percentile ahead of starting kindergarten.
Thompson Child & Family Focus pays special attention to children’s mental wellness. The Thompson Child Development Center provides the building blocks for success by offering the highest quality of care, personal attention and proven learning environment for every child. Additionally, the nonprofit’s Early Childhood Outreach Service mentors more than 100 early childhood programs to promote school readiness and assist centers in creating and sustaining high-quality learning environments.
YWCA Central Carolinas provides high-quality after-school and summer programs for more than 300 children in grades K-5 in Mecklenburg and Union counties. Through partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at Billingsville Leadership Academy in Grier Heights, students are transported home after programming ends. Children who attend the after-school and summer programs benefit from a literacy-rich instruction, enhanced by fun and enriching activities.
Support United Way and our United Neighborhoods partners as we ensure the continued success of Grier Heights’ youngest generation.