7 minute read

Xcelerate NC

Charlotte Nonprofit Teaches Children Around the World

By William Carter, Jr.

Nonprofits that help people and give back to communities represent the best of our country. They give people a way to work together for the good of all, putting their shared aspirations and ideologies into practice. They shape our biggest dreams, highest ideals and most important causes.

There are 1.3 million charitable nonprofits in the U.S. that help feed, heal, house, teach, inspire, enlighten and care for people of all ages and background throughout the world. They help people get involved in their communities and become leaders. They also help the economy grow and improve our communities every day.

One of these groups is Xcelerate NC, a Charlotte-based 501(c)(3), nonprofit group that works to help young minds develop and do better in academics. Xcelerate NC offers online math and public speaking classes and raises money for other charities.

Aditi Sengupta,18, and her brother Anirudh Sengupta,13, founded the organization in the summer of 2020. These two siblings coordinate all the organization’s activities and events, and they both teach students through online sessions. They work primarily with elementary school students, but they also provide resources for kids as they progress through middle school and high school. Some of their online students overseas are in their late teens.

Aditi, a graduating senior at Ardrey Kell High School, has demonstrated excellence and leadership in diverse disciplines, such as math and debate. She serves as captain of the debate team and president of mock trials. “[It’s] humbling to be part of other people’s journeys and give back to the community,” she said. “I get plenty of satisfaction from helping others.”

Anirudh currently attends Community House Middle School and is passionate about math, science and the arts, and has won multiple trophies and medals in competitive academics and accolades at math and science Olympiads. He said, “I’ve had great experiences with my mentors and want to give others the same opportunity by mentoring them.”

The siblings started Xcelerate NC in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. When several schools opted for virtual learning rather than in-person classes, Aditi understood that students, especially the younger ones, could become easily disconnected from lessons taught virtually. She identified the need to support younger kids in transition to distant learning and recognized public speaking as a skill that children will eventually need.

The public speaking courses Aditi teaches help young children develop selfconfidence. “It’s something that we do a lot [in life], so start kids at a young age…telling stories and fun things to get kids speaking publicly,” Aditi said. “We’re helping kids become more comfortable with math in one-on-one courses for typical math classes and competitions,” Anirudh explained.

Anirudh leads an annual math competition hosted by Xcelerate NC called Xpress Math during the winter season. The program creates classes and assessments that help test children’s math knowledge.

Founders of Xcelerate NC Aditi Sengupta (right) and her brother Anirudh Sengupta

International educators participate in a panel discussion on the impact of the pandemic on the education of children globally.

Anirudh and Aditi guide students during the Xcelerate NC annual Xpress Math Competition.

The curriculum, established by Aditi and Anirudh, has helped school-aged kids in Charlotte, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, Tennessee and even countries such as Tanzania and India.

One of the hurdles the Sengupta siblings have had to overcome with their educational programs is ensuring that their students have the proper equipment to receive and work on lessons. “One student [in Tanzania] was using a cellphone and [public] wi-fi to login,” Aditi said. To help raise educational funds for students in need overseas, Xcelerate NC partners with other nonprofits like help2kids, which works to improve children’s quality of life and opportunities in Tanzania and Malawi. They also work with Develop Africa, which aims to help meaningful and long-term development in Africa by giving school supplies, scholarships, computer/vocational training and other resources to young students.

Xcelerate NC also receives donations from its one-on-one course and summer camps to help raise educational funding. Outside of their organization, Aditi and Anirudh participate in fundraisers for other nonprofit groups like Breast Cancer Hub, Second Harvest Food and the Exceptional Children Program at CharlotteMecklenburg Schools. Aditi said she plans to continue raising funds to provide proper learning equipment for children overseas when she starts college.

Working together as a sister/brother team is a challenging yet rewarding dynamic, they said. “There are productive disagreements,” Aditi said. “Debates can help both ways … different ideas help piece things together. I may have a class idea for one student while Anirudh may have a different idea for a class that still helps the same student.” Anirudh manages the Xcelerate NC website, and Aditi handles the content; both work together to create lesson plans and curricula.

Executing a successful 501(c)(3) organization isn’t always easy, but Aditi and Anirudh Sengupta have Xcelerate NC operating quite seamlessly. Their parents assist with organizational duties, such as tax filings and other federal/state regulations, while the siblings remain focused on Xcelerate NC’s educational mission and goals.

Parents of students the siblings have taught and others praise Aditi and Anirudh’s work at Xcelerate. “Harshil and Rishan love your camp,” one parent wrote. “I like the way you keep the kids engaged and focused. They are never bored and look forward to your camp.” P

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For the first time since 2019, Blumenthal Performing Arts, Queen City Comedy, and The Comedy Zone will host The Queen City Comedy Experience, Charlotte’s premier comedy festival highlighting several dozen local and national acts from a wide variety of genres. The festival returns to multiple venues in Uptown Charlotte August 11-August 28. Tickets at blumenthalarts. org/queen-city-comedy-experience.

Iconic comedy musician Weird Al Yankovic, IFC’s podcast Comedy Bang Bang, stand up comedian Bill Bellamy and legendary sketch & improv comedy troupe The Second City will headline the 2022 festival.

This year’s festival will be held over three weekends, expanding beyond past festivals one weekend schedule. Venues include The Comedy Zone, Belk Theater, Knight Theater, Booth Playhouse, Stage Door Theater and QC Social.

Local Charlotte area stand-up comedians and improv troupes including Tara Brown, Don Garrett, Johnny Millwater, Jason Allen King, Now Are The Foxes, Improv Charlotte, Robot Johnson, Screw Up TV and more will also perform throughout the festival. The full local lineup and schedule will be revealed at a later date.

The QUEEN CITY COMEDY EXPERIENCE is Charlotte’s principal comedy festival fit for anyone who loves to laugh. Pop up spaces around the city will be transformed into comedy clubs for the large variety of offerings from comedy acts, stand-up shows, improv teams, dance and music groups, films, live podcast tapings and more. Plus, veteran and budding performers of all ages will have the opportunity to get some hands-on comedy experience with workshops by Second City for teens and adults.

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ABOUT BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS

Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. For more information, call (704) 372-1000 or visit BlumenthalArts.org. Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the North Carolina Arts Council.

Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported by PNC Bank, sponsor of the PNC Broadway Lights.

ABOUT QUEEN CITY COMEDY

Queen City Comedy is a non-profit artist collective dedicated to growing the comedy scene in Charlotte and around the globe by building community, fostering collaboration, showcasing our great talent, celebrating quality work and generally being awesome.

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