Wells Fargo announces significant grants focused on advancing economic mobility and racial equity in Charlotte
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) will deliver more than $3.2 million in grants to address a range of critical community needs across Charlotte, including advancing economic mobility, improving racial equity, supporting minority-owned small businesses and advancing entrepreneurship for the next generation of business leaders.
Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf announced the grants earlier today at a special event held in Biddle Hall and Auditorium, on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Johnson C. Smith University and United Way of Central Carolinas will each receive grants for $1 million, while Central Piedmont Community College’s Small Business Resource Center will receive an Open For Business grant from Wells Fargo for $625,000. Other organizations receiving grants include Aspire Community Capital, Charlotte is Creative, City Start-Up Labs, the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, Prospera, and the Women’s Business Center.
“While we are seeing signs of economic improvement, we also realize that not all of our communities are benefiting equally in this recovery,” said Scharf. “That is why Wells Fargo is being intentional about supporting a more inclusive economic recovery, with a focus on racial and social equity, economic mobility and investments in low and moderate income communities. We are pleased to announce these grants for the Charlotte area and will continue to focus on ways we can support positive change.”
The announcements coincide with and help celebrate the return of the Wells Fargo Championship to Charlotte. The PGA TOUR event, which was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, has raised more than $24 million for charitable organizations since 2003. The Wells Fargo Championship provides significant economic impact to the Charlotte-area economy – estimated at more than $50 million annually.
Wells Fargo recently announced equity investments in 11 African American Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) as part of its March 10, 2020, pledge to invest up to $50 million in Black-owned banks. The investments are part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to supporting economic growth in African American communities where MDIs, often community based banks, provide mortgage credit, small business lending, and other banking services. Self Help Credit Union and M&F Bank, two of the MDIs that are receiving funding from Wells Fargo, have branches on Beatties Ford Road.
Making an impact in Charlotte and North Carolina
Wells Fargo has been a longstanding community supporter in Charlotte and across North Carolina. Over the last 10 years, Wells Fargo and the Wells Fargo Foundation have provided nonprofit organizations in North Carolina with more than $190 million in grants. The $3.2 million in grants announced today will support key organizations in their efforts to address critical community needs across Charlotte, including:
- Johnson C. Smith University: Funding will focus on minority student scholarships, experiential learning supporting entrepreneurship and small business ownership, student financial health education and credit score development.
- United Way of Central Carolinas: The grant from the Wells Fargo Community Impact Fund will support economic mobility for low income neighborhoods and advancing racial equity via Unite Charlotte.
- Central Piedmont Community College – Small Business Resource Center: The grant from Wells Fargo’s Open For Business (OFB) fund will be focused on supporting underrepresented small business owners in the Charlotte region. OFB is a roughly $420-million small business recovery effort Wells Fargo created by donating all of the gross processing fees received from participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in 2020. The OFB Fund provides grants to nonprofits serving small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly racially and ethnically diverse and women-owned small businesses.
- Aspire Community Capital: The grant will support entrepreneurs from low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities in Charlotte.
- Charlotte is Creative: The grant will impact creatives as entrepreneurs by supporting them with funding, mentorship, business skills training and social capital connections.
- City Start-Up Labs: The grant will focus on helping bridge the entrepreneurial divide where under-represented populations of African American millennials and returning citizens (previously incarcerated) are not adequately and proportionally able to participate in startup activity and business building.
- Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte: The grant will help fund a business and entrepreneurship hub supporting Hispanic/Latino entrepreneurs and business owners in Charlotte.
- Prospera: The funds will provide bilingual (English/Spanish) assistance to Hispanic small business owners and entrepreneurs in Charlotte.
- Women’s Business Center: The funds will help women-owned businesses in Charlotte start and grow.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets and proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of all middle market companies and small businesses in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth and Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2020 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health and a low-carbon economy. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.
Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com | Twitter: @WellsFargo.
Small Business Center announces the ‘53 Ideas Pitch Competition’
Central Piedmont Community College’s Small Business Center will partner with small business centers in the state’s Southwest region on the 2021 “53 Ideas Pitch Competition.” Sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, this pitch competition is intended to help address income inequality and equity through entrepreneurship. Anyone with an idea has the opportunity to compete for cash awards, plus take advantage of training resources, and find social connections to help remove barriers and to launch a viable business. The top prize winner of the competition will receive $10,000 in seed money for a start-up business.
“Last year, ideas came pouring in across the 10-county region. The community responded, and the response to the ‘53 Ideas’ pitch competition was different. Contestants did not mirror the historical demographics of entrepreneurs,” said Renee Hode, regional director for the NC Small Business Center Network.
More than half of the participants at last year’s competition were women; more than half of them were minorities, with the majority earning less than $50,000 a year.
Studies show that four out of five entrepreneurs do not access bank loans or venture capital. Instead, their sources of funding are personal network, generational wealth or connections to networks. The “53 Ideas Pitch Competition” exists to help lessen this inequality in entrepreneurship.
“Any successful business starts with an idea,” said Lori Thomas, executive director projects and market resources at Central Piedmont. “Share your idea with us, tell us your plan, and Central Piedmont will provide the resources and training to help you make it happen.”
The “53 Ideas Pitch Competition” is an open call for business ideas from residents across the region. Individuals will have 53 seconds to pitch their idea in the form of a video submission that may be uploaded to 53ideas.com. For open, inclusive access, if someone has an idea but does not have the technology to submit an entry they can visit their local small business center for help and access to enter the competition.
Judges will review the submissions and select the top 53 pitches. Top entrants will each receive a $50 award, as well as the opportunity to advance in the competition. Training and coaching on pitching, financing, forecasting, and general business will be available to every participant, even if they do not make the top 53. These free resources will be offered by Small Business Centers located at community colleges throughout the region, including Central Piedmont, Cleveland, Gaston, Mitchell, Rowan-Cabarrus, South Piedmont and Stanly.
After the training period, the top-53 entrants will participate in a closed virtual pitch event, where the judges will narrow the field down to 10. The top 10 will receive $250 each and go on to compete on a virtual stage for the top awards: first place receives $10,000, second place earns $5,000, and third place receives $2,500 in seed funding to help turn their ideas into a viable business.
To learn more about the “53 Ideas Pitch Competition” or to upload a video submission by the May 31 deadline, visit 53ideas.com.
STRIVE Scholars program is building tomorrow’s Pre-K educators
The Mecklenburg County Pre-K initiative, the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Comprehensive Early Learning Center, and the Central Piedmont Foundation have awarded Central Piedmont’s early childhood education program a $4 million grant to create the STRIVE Scholars program.
The program provides full tuition, fees, books, and materials funding to academically qualified students preparing to become educators of young children in Mecklenburg County.
According to research conducted by Mecklenburg County, Charlotte’s workforce lacks the postsecondary education necessary to assure the quality of its lead and assistant Pre-K teachers in the classroom.
The college’s STRIVE Scholars program seeks to address this workforce need by providing students who are pursuing an Associate in Applied Science or certificate in early childhood education with better access to a higher education and need-based support services, including:
- child care
In addition, the program will provide Scholars with comprehensive support services, such as academic advising, mentoring, and more, to ensure their academic success.
The early childhood education program is grateful and excited to be a part of this important initiative to bring universal pre-kindergarten to Mecklenburg County. Learn more about the STRIVE Scholarship.
Student awarded Walgreens Pharmacy Technician Certification Scholarship
Liliane Kouam Kengne, a pharmacy technology student at Central Piedmont, has been selected as one of only 30 students to receive Phi Theta Kappa’s Fall Walgreens Pharmacy Technician Certification Scholarship.
The Walgreens Pharmacy Technician Certification Scholarship recognizes students who are enrolled in allied health or pharmacy technician programs who intend to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.
As this year’s recipient, Liliane will receive a $130 scholarship award to cover the cost of her exam fees.
To be eligible, students:
- must be currently enrolled in allied health or pharmacy technician programs through December 2021
- must be eligible to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam in the semester following the award
- should know financial need, demonstration of career goals, academic rigor and community service may be considered during the selection process
“Liliane is a perceptive, sharp, and quick individual who possesses a high aptitude for pharmacy-related material,” said Karen Garner, pharmacy technology program chair and instructor at Central Piedmont. “She is an excellent recipient for this scholarship. She’s always learning and growing as a learner, an impressive strength that will continue to serve her well in college and beyond.”
Johnson C. Smith University Announces Direct Admission Program with Central Piedmont Community College
Today, leadership for Johnson C. Smith University and Central Piedmont Community College announced “JCSU Connect”– a new bachelor’s degree pathway that will expand college access to more students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and beyond. This new collaboration is part of JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister’s mission to help address the lack of economic upward mobility in Charlotte by providing local students a guided pathway to earn bachelor’s degrees from JCSU.
“For more than 150 years, JCSU has been a leader in providing educational access,” said Armbrister. “As the University continues to focus on providing opportunities to address economic upward mobility in Charlotte, we look forward to this new partnership with Central Piedmont Community College to assist those seeking bachelor’s degrees and experience Charlotte’s HBCU, the only HBCU in partnership with Central Piedmont.”
JCSU Connect is a “2+2” program, meaning participating students will complete an associate degree at Central Piedmont and a bachelor’s degree at JCSU. During the first two years of study, students in the JCSU Connect Program will take classes at Central Piedmont and engage in intentional career and academic workshops at JCSU. During the third-year, students will enroll at JCSU and be placed in an on-campus paid internship (via federal work study) at JCSU that correlates with their field of study. During the final year of study, participants will complete their academic program at JCSU and engage in experiential learning, including internships and undergraduate research.
“We are excited to partner with Johnson C. Smith University and thrilled to offer this pathway to our students,” said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. “JCSU Connect will be a wonderful program for our students who want to earn a four-year degree. We know they will flourish at JCSU. At the same time, this transfer program is another great example of the higher education community in Charlotte working together to build more avenues to opportunity and enhance our community’s economic mobility.”
Students succeed at NY National Model UN Conference
Eleven Central Piedmont students joined thousands of university students, more than half of which matriculated from outside the United States, in the National Model United Nations (MUN) New York 2021 Conference.
Participating in this year’s conference were Central Piedmont students Aakriti Lakshmanan, Aiden Keith, Anthony Kabala, Ashley Braswell, Barbara Batista, Christelle Valentin, Davidson Valmyr, Gwen Thompson, Otisia Bryan, Richard Dougherty and Skyler McNeely.
The MUN Club represented the delegation of The Republic of El Salvador and discussed current global issues in a real-world context. The team performed well, receiving the “Distinguished Delegation” Award for its great committee participation, remaining in character, and proper use of rules of procedure. In addition to receiving team honors, Aakriti Lakshmanan received the “Outstanding Position Paper in a Committee” award, as well as the “Outstanding Delegate in a Committee” award.
Central Piedmont’s Model UN Club is overseen by faculty advisors Teresa Hall and Camelia Taheri.
Central Piedmont, Bank of America virtual event seeks to support racial equity in higher education, strengthen local workforce and community
Central Piedmont Community College and Bank of America today hosted a virtual event featuring Dr. Tim Renick, executive director of Georgia State University’s National Institute for Student Success, who presented, “Georgia State’s Journey to Eliminating the Racial Equity Gap.” Attendees included Central Piedmont employees, board members and student leaders; Bank of America executives, and Charlotte city and county government officials. Also participating were local higher education partners and community nonprofit leaders in education, workforce development and college and career readiness.
For more than a decade, Dr. Renick has used Georgia State’s data to drive sustainable change and eliminate the racial equity gap at his institution. As a result of his work, Georgia State - which is also home to Perimeter College, a major provider of associate degrees and student transfer opportunities in Georgia - annually graduates more African-American students than any other public or nonprofit higher education institution in the country and ranks ninth in the nation for advancing social mobility. Dr. Renick has emerged as a national expert on how colleges and universities can decrease disparities in their graduation rates and achievements based on race, ethnicity, and income.
“At Georgia State, we’re motivated by a desire to make an impact, not only in the lives of our own students, but also in the lives of students across the country,” said Dr. Renick. “That's why our team at Georgia State University has made such a conscious and significant commitment to dedicating our time and resources to sharing with others the important lessons we have learned.”
Dr. Renick’s accomplishments at Georgia State complement the equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) goals established and continuously reviewed and enhanced at both Central Piedmont and Bank of America.
Over the past year, Central Piedmont has accelerated its EDI work, hosting a number of events and training sessions for employees and students to attend that support EDI awareness, drive culture change, and reinforce EDI initiatives at all six of its campuses. In addition, the college has looked closely at its talent acquisition and hiring processes to ensure equity and diversity is embedded across all of its areas and departments.
“All of the EDI work Central Piedmont is doing is supported by the college’s shared values and strategic goals,” explained Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. “In 2019, the college adopted a new set of guiding values and strategic goals; the desire to reach a greater level of equity throughout the college is found in both.
“Dr. Renick’s presentation and the experience of Georgia State provide a path and a set of best practices Central Piedmont can work to incorporate. We want to do all we can to ensure our students achieve success and our faculty and staff feel valued and appreciated.”
Similarly, Bank of America has turned its attention toward advancing EDI initiatives within the communities it serves. Last summer, it announced a $1 billion, four-year commitment of support to address economic and racial inequalities that had been accelerated by the global pandemic. As part of that commitment, it pledged $25 million to support career reskilling programs through partnerships with higher education institutions, including community colleges like Central Piedmont.
“Acquiring an education and jobs skills not only improves an employed individual’s quality of life but also contributes to the health of our local economy and community. Access to quality, affordable education and job skills training is key to removing economic barriers facing minority individuals and communities,” said Charles Bowman, Bank of America’s Charlotte Market president. “Central Piedmont has a proven track record of offering courses and training for roles in the fields most in demand within our community. Bank of America supports the college’s focus on helping students of color complete the education and training necessary for entering the workforce and earning a sustainable living wage.”
Following his formal presentation to Central Piedmont, Bank of America, and city and county representatives, Dr. Renick individually met with:
- Central Piedmont’s leadership team to discuss how the college could best advance racial equality, and
- Bank of America’s market presidents, located across the country, to discuss what other partnership possibilities may exist to help colleges nationwide create sustainable change on their campuses.
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Student named a 2021 New Century Workforce Scholar
John “Dylan” Whitley, a turfgrass management student at Central Piedmont Community College, has been named a 2021 New Century Workforce Scholar. The Salisbury, N.C., native will receive a $1,250 scholarship in recognition of this accomplishment. More than 2,000 students were nominated for the scholarship from more than 1,200 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Workforce Scholar is selected from each state; and Whitley was chosen as the North Carolina recipient.
New Century Workforce Scholars are selected based on their academic accomplishments, leadership, activities and how they extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. Whitley matched the award’s criteria well. As a Central Piedmont student, he is involved in the college’s Student Life activities as a member of the Turfgrass Club and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, while excelling inside the classroom with a 3.8 grade point average.
“Dylan is an exemplary student, and he is motivated to reach his academic goals by his desire to provide a good life for his family, and as a new dad,” said Jen Conway, a Phi Theta Kappa All-USA nominator and Student Life coordinator at Central Piedmont.
“Phi Theta Kappa recognizes leadership as one of our hallmarks, so Dylan’s application stood out as he discussed his approach to leadership and the care that should be given to employees. Leadership can come from anywhere, no matter your title, and Dylan reflected on that sentiment as he detailed the importance of being a leader, not just a boss. We were excited to nominate him, and thrilled he represents Central Piedmont and our chapter, as the winner from North Carolina,” Conway added.
The New Century Workforce scholarship, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, is the first of its kind to support students at associate degree-granting institutions on a national scale as they plan to enter the workforce upon the completion of a degree or certificate. Whitley is currently finishing up his associate degree in turfgrass management at Central Piedmont, and plans to secure employment in the industry after graduating in December 2021.
“We congratulate Dylan for receiving this prestigious scholarship, and we are honored to partner with The Coca Cola Foundation to recognize his outstanding achievements,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “Scholarship programs like this are integral for creating opportunities for students to succeed as they prepare to enter the workforce and for putting college completion within reach.”
Whitley, and his fellow New Century Workforce Scholars, will be recognized in the fall.
Message to College on Coronavirus: Governor Cooper Eases Pandemic Restrictions
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced today he will ease several statewide COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, including increasing the size of gatherings and capacity limits in retail stores and restaurants. The Executive Order will take effect March 26 at 5 p.m. and is set to expire April 30 at 5 p.m.
“We can move forward with easing restrictions if we do it safely,” Cooper said.
The changes include:
- The gathering-size limit will increase to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. (Previous limits have been 25 indoors and 50 people outdoors).
- Retail stores, salons, museums, and aquariums will be allowed to open at 100-percent capacity (up from 50 percent).
- Restaurants, breweries, and gyms can be open at 75-percent capacity indoors (up from 50 percent) and 100 percent outdoors.
- Bars, conference centers, music venues, and sports arenas will be allowed to open at 50-percent capacity (up from 30 percent).
- The statewide alcohol-sales curfew is being removed. (The curfew has been 11 p.m. since Feb. 26).
The state’s mask/face covering mandate remains in effect. All businesses still must maintain social distancing measures, which could limit the capacity of some establishments.
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic for Central Piedmont employees will take place in the Worrell Building, on Central Campus, Tuesday, April 6, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Time slots are available. Register for an appointment today.
The vaccine adds one more layer of protection and can further help protect your family, co-workers, and our students. Let’s gain control of the spread and get back to the places and people we miss.
In the meantime, the college urges you to continue to do your part and practice the 3W’s (wearing masks, washing hands, and waiting — keeping a distance — at least 6-feet apart) until the vaccine becomes available to all. Learn more about the state’s vaccination distribution plan.