Issue 2, UCITY Family Zone Newsletter

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UCITY Family Zone A collaborative, place-based initiative empowering communities to increase opportunity and improve the quality of life.


MAY 2021 • ISSUE 2

EDUCATION The Learning Lab was started in October of 2020 to help McKinney-Vento students in kindergarten through 8th grade with academic enrichment, physical fitness activities, and provided a hot breakfast, a hot lunch and snack daily. The McKinney-Vento Act provides rights and services to children and youth experiencing homelessness, which includes those who are: sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; staying in motels, in shelters or transitional housing; or sleeping in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, or substandard housing. Northside Baptist Church partnered with the Prodigal Son Foundation, Atrium Health, Embrace Your Truth, Harvesting Humanity, Men of Destiny, Just for You Barber/Styling Academy, Read Charlotte, CMPD and CMS to ensure students were getting much needed support in remote learning. Funding from the Steve Smith Foundation for K through 6th grade students allowed the Learning Lab to focus on middle and high school students that often go without resources and programs. The partners hold a call once a week to talk about goals, objectives and collaborate on ways to increase success metrics. Just for Your Barber provides free haircuts to any student that wants one. Since Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is now fully open for students, the Learning Lab will reopen in the summer thanks to funding from the United Way and Safe Charlotte to continue their work of giving academic support, mentoring and increased access to social capital to the students they serve. When asked if they had any surprises, Leroy Wray, founder and Executive Director of the Prodigal Son Foundation and lead for the UCITY Family Zone education community of practice, shared the staff was surprised by the how some of the high school students did not want to return to ‘traditional” school.

He is working with Erik Turner, the principal of Vance High, Rob Rogers, owner of a University City Chick-fil-A and council member of University City Connect and other local leaders to create an intentional dropout prevention approach to help students that are struggling with both in-person and remote learning. Leroy and the Learning Lab team hopes UCITY Family Zone member organizations will continue to volunteer, mentor and share more funding opportunities and resources. He also hopes the Charlotte, Mecklenburg community will advocate and stay informed of the needs of McKinney Vento students. His wish is for $1 million dollars to serve more students, increase access to social capital and to accomplish the Prodigal Son Foundation’s mission to help empower, educate and engage students and families. . If you would like to know more about the Learning Lab, Prodigal Son, or the UCITY Family Zone Education Community of Practice, please contact Dr. Wray at

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COMMUNITY COLLABORATORS E2D has worked successfully with 140 schools within the Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) system. E2D is working to bridge the digital divide by providing laptops to students and providing computer training. E2D is committed to working with community partners to reach students and one of those community partners is the UCITY Family Zone a place-based initiative serving the needs of the University City area.

FOOD PANTRY Hope Street Food Pantry Open Thursdays from 4-7 PM 4100 Johnston Oehler Rd Charlotte, NC 28269 (704) 584-9073

In March, E2D had a laptop distribution for Hidden Valley Elementary students. Visit their website at for information about the next distribution date and location.

DATES TO REMEMBER May 4th 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM | Lunch with Charlotte Knights & Chick-fil-A | Baymont Inn, 5415 Equipment Drive 5th 9 AM - 2 PM | COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic | Faith CME Church 6th & 7th 10 AM - 12 PM | Ethics and LantixX Mental Health Summit | Zoom 14th Deadline to pick Medicaid doctors 18th 8 AM - 9 AM | Food Security CoP | Virtual 25th 12 PM - 1:30 PM | Health & Wellness CoP Meeting | Virtual The complete calendar is on website


STRATEGIC PLANNING Brent Jones Director of Service and Outreach at StoneBridge Church Community Fun Fact Brent lived in Taiwan for three years, and he and his wife, Mary, is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Wendy Mateo-Pascual President, Consultant at Crossways Consulting Fun Fact Wendy and her family own and operate a family farm in Charlotte "Pascual Farms".


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COMMUNITY COLLABORATORS Over 60 organizations collaborate. In this edition, we are introducing the following. Click on the organization's name to learn more about the impactful work they are doing.

ARCHES Atrium Health - Kids Eat Free

Our libraries are the jewels in Charlotte’s crown. Thanks to the efforts of the UCITY Family Zone collaborators, the University City Library was able to find a new location. The library is the largest provider of free WiFi in the county. If you are thinking about starting a podcast, but don’t have the capital to invest in the equipment, the CharMeck Library has equipment to checkout. Yes, just like a book. Nonprofits will continue to have remote access to the Foundation Directory until December 31, 2021. They have 100s of resources that from accounting, taxes and banking to the World Encyclopedia.

Atrium Health B.Y.E. LLC Camino Center Charlotte Resilience Project Christ Covenant Church CMPD CMS Community Hub E2D Energy & Environment Innovation Foundation Grace Church Heal Charlotte Leadership in the Clouds™

Call for submissions Help us keep up with the great work and community activism going on in the University City area. Send us your photos with a description of time, place and organization info. Are you an organization serving the University City area? Let us know and join the UCITY Family Zone. Email us today at

Men of Destiny Muslim Community Center The Prodigal Son Stonebridge Church Community UNC Charlotte University City Connect University City Partners Ucity Women's Center Keith Family YMCA Zolingo's Spice for Life


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