There has been an increase in poverty levels in the Charlotte, NC, area in recent years. In fact, there are close to 160,000 Mecklenburg residents living in poverty and more than 300,000 in the region living below the poverty line. In addition, according to a Harvard study, it will be extremely hard for those in North Carolina to move out of poverty. Last week, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont(Charlotte) announced its vision to change the trajectory of poverty and dependence in the area during its Growing Opportunity celebration.
The celebration included the organization’s public announcement of their vision and the capital campaign to assist with building a new 160,000 square foot campus called the Goodwill Opportunity Campus (GOC). The facility will provide a comprehensive collection of resources and opportunities for job training, job placement and job creation for individuals facing multiple barriers to employment. Construction will start in the beginning of 2015 with occupancy in the new building anticipated to occur in 2016.
Making the GOC a reality will require an investment of $20 million. The Charlotte Goodwill has committed $12 million of its own funds and has embarked on a capital campaign to raise $8 million from the community. In the quiet phase of the campaign, which began at the end of last year, $4.5 million was raised including a $1.2 million grant challenge from the Leon Levine Foundation and a $500,000 investment from Bank of America, the largest corporate donor to date.
“The Goodwill Opportunity Campus is a unique approach to address the issues of poverty and dependence in our community,” said president and CEO, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont Michael Elder. “Through our continued work in the community we know that it takes more than providing disadvantaged job seekers with job skills and training, we have to also provide them with services to help overcome the barriers they face that keep them in the cycle of un and underemployment.”
The GOC will provide a central location for coordinated services. Through the campus, the Goodwill’s strategic partners will be able to meet clients’ basic needs and they will be able to expand the organization’s job resource center and offer increased access to career coaching. The facility will also help the Goodwill to expand its services to provide long-term support for clients to help them continue to develop so they can earn a family-sustaining wage.
“We project that in the first full year of operation, the Goodwill Opportunity Campus will serve more than 10,400 individuals with multiple barriers to employment,” said Elder. “This number represents an increase of 23 percent from the current number served at their career development center on Freedom Drive.”
The Charlotte Goodwill is inviting the public to contribute the remaining dollars needed to achieve the $8 million campaign goal. To assist in raising the remaining funds, the Leon Levine Foundation has pledged to match every dollar donated from April 2014 to April 2015 up to $1.2 million. Individuals can visit www.goodwillopportunitycampus.org to learn more and to donate.