Following a study ranking Charlotte 50 out of 50 cities nationwide, the city has joined forces, creating the Opportunity Task Force to address the community’s lack of economic mobility. According to research, for those in Charlotte’s lower economic levels, the odds of moving up are slim, creating an inequitable societal divide. Along with that, historic findings show women to be particularly economically disadvantaged and with little opportunity, especially single women with children and older women.
Working to bridge that opportunity gap are the talented minds at UNC Charlotte’s Women + Girls Research Alliance. To positively impact the quality of life for Charlotte females and inform public policy, they’re harnessing the power of their research resources. Through monthly community forums, book club discussions and publications, UNC Charlotte shines a light on issues affecting the lives of Charlotte’s girls and their families.
“During the past year, University faculty, staff and students have been working across disciplines conducting research on topics related to ‘The Story of the Charlotte Girl.’ This year-long initiate, provides a means to explore research not only with community partners, but also program and policy leaders, finding ways to mitigate the challenges of poverty,” says Heather Brown, director of the Women + Girls Research Alliance.
On Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m., the initiative discusses its book club selection: Renee Watson’s “Piecing Me Together.” The story focuses on Jade, a high school junior who believes that in order to succeed, she must escape her poor neighborhood. Free and open to the community, registration is recommended.
On Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., “The Story of the Charlotte Girl” hosts a community presentation with Lateefah Simon. A “genius grant” recipient, Simon has executive experience advancing opportunities for low-income and communities of color in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than two decades. She’s president of Akonadi Foundation, which supports and nurtures the racial justice movement to eliminate structural racism, specifically focused on the City of Oakland. Open to the public at no cost in Barnhardt Student Activity Center; register here.October focuses on how violence affects girls; November deals with teen pregnancy and parenting; and December explores the stressors of growing up in poverty.
2018 Women + Girls Research Summit
These monthly focuses are all gearing up for April’s Women + Girls Research Alliance Summit, held every two years. “The 2018 summit will bring researchers, community leaders and policy makers together to discuss how research can lessen barriers to success for Charlotte’s girls,” said Brown. “We’ll also engage the community in discussions about issues such as social capital, research and evaluation collaboration, and why it is important to engage girls in research on girls.”