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Nonprofits partner to serve Charlotte-area students in college and career readiness

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Under-resourced students can now get support for their education from the team effort of nine Charlotte-Mecklenburg nonprofits that have formed a collaborative organization known as the Crescent Coalition.   

The Crescent Coalition aims to improve students’ college and career readiness outcomes and provide support to students by connecting them to resources, organizations, and information. 

“The general camaraderie and community for leaders of emerging college and career readiness organizations has made this work far less lonely, as we lean into each other’s expertise when we are experiencing challenges,” said Ian Joyce, executive director of GenOne, one of the nonprofits in the coalition.

The support from the coalition begins for students in middle school and follows them to postsecondary education and their eventual careers.

“The Crescent Coalition benefits all students because we can collaborate on programs and services that will help them thrive,” Joyce said.

The participating nonprofits include:

  • Carolina Youth Coalition
  • Friedland Foundation
  • Gardhouse
  • GenOne
  • Greater Steps Scholars
  • Road to Hire
  • UrbanPromise
  • The Academy of Goal Achievers
  • Wayfinders

“We noticed that an unintentional collaboration by multiple organizations helped one of our students overcome challenging circumstances, and we reasoned that a structured network of support could be incredibly powerful for many more students,” Aaron Randolph of Carolina Youth Coalition said.

During October, the Crescent Coalition led an event for around 200 families on approaching financial aid, locating resources for scholarships, and paying for postsecondary opportunities. The event featured representatives from the College Foundation of North Carolina.

“It sends a powerful message to our community, and even the youth we serve, that we can set aside any egos and work together toward the larger goal of increasing opportunities for postsecondary pathways throughout our city,” Randolph said.

The Crescent Coalition has made several efforts during its first year, such as participating in professional development at the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), creating shared goals, and organizing shared college tours that reached over 100 students. 

Equitable, a financial services company, and Leading on Opportunity helped to provide the coalition resources while starting its journey. Equitable also underwrote NCAN registration for Crescent Coalition members and made NCAN membership available for free for its members each year. 

“College access and career readiness are key areas of priority in Equitable’s work to build stronger communities,” said Jarian Kerekes, head of social impact and community engagement at Equitable.