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Alignment SW Charlotte Strives to Help Area Students Reach their Potential

ASWC(August 25, 2013) Steele Creek area businesses, churches, and community organizations are partnering with area schools to bring their resources into alignment so that their coordinated support of Charlotte’s youth will have a positive impact on public school success, children’s health, and the success of our community as a whole. 

The effort, called Alignment SW Charlotte, was initiated by the Olympic Community of Schools, the Arrowood Business Association, and the City of Charlotte, but over 50 business and community organizations are participating. Participants represent a deep cross section of the significant stakeholder groups in the Steele Creek community. Click HERE to see lists of Alignment Schools and Founding Partners.

Alignment SW Charlotte is a transformational program that promises to redefine the relationship between education and the community it serves.

ASWC GoalAlthough the name refers to southwest Charlotte, the focus is on the five high schools in the Olympic Community of Schools plus the five elementary and two middle schools in Steele Creek, which roughly corresponds to the Olympic attendance area.

The objective is to find where the interests of the schools and community "align" and overlap so they can collaborate and create partnerships that reinvent how education and the Steele Creek community will work together for the sake of its children.

The community has the opportunity to do something special with this alignment effort by leveraging the successes and trust already gained over the years through joint ventures with the business, faith, nonprofit, college, and government communities. 

“We embrace a “cradle to career” focus in finding ways to act together and align interests so more children reach their human potential, which will allow communities, neighborhoods and business reach their potential as well,” says Charles Wilkerson, president of the Arrowood Business Association, one of the movement’s key sponsors.

“We intend to leverage and expand upon the great success that our organization and so many others have had in making a difference at the Olympic Community of Schools -- a phenomenal success story since it started seriously collaborating with the Charlotte community through public-private partnerships. We all need to get out of our silos and find ways to work together with public education.”

ASWC SummitOn August 14, 85 people representing over 50 organizations participated in an Alignment SW Charlotte work session, which connected K-12 principals with community stakeholders so they could determine how they can work more effectively together in transitioning children successfully from "cradle to career."

Participants were encouraged by the level of cooperation and the intensity of discussion at each work table. Reports from each table identified several collaborative projects that participants have decided to move forward with. Many of those projects and partnerships have already begun.

The Alignment SW Charlotte web site (www.alignmentswcharlotte.org) will be updated soon with outlines of these projects. The web site will go through continual development, so it is advisable to bookmark it and check back often.

Additional partners are needed to help more of Steele Creek's children become successful in school, work, and life. 

Anyone interested in helping area  students can support and join Alignment SW Charlotte. The effort hopes to mobilize any and all stakeholders who benefit from children reaching their human potential so their full talent is contributed to this community.


About The Olympic Community of Schools

The Olympic Community of Schools consists of five autonomous theme-based high schools housed within Olympic High School campus, and it is part of the Bill and Melinda Gates small school movement.  The five schools are: School of Global Studies and Economics; Renaissance School; Biotechnology, Health and Public Administration; School of International Business and Communications Studies; and the School of Math, Engineering, Technology and Science. The Olympic small schools are committed to providing students a high school learning experience that is relevant and engaging.  Since converting to a small school operational model seven years ago, EOC test scores have increased by over 65% at Olympic, and the small school campus has been recognized nationally by corporate leaders like Microsoft for their innovation and 21st century focus in better preparing students with vital skills needed for success in school, work, and life.

If you are interested in participating in Alignment SW Charlotte or have questions, please see the Alignment SW Charlotte Contact page.

To comment on this story, please visit the Steele Creek Forum.

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The Essential Question -- Can we better align community organizations and resources so that their coordinated support of SW Charlotte’s youth has a positive impact on public school success and the success of our community as a whole?  Let's help more of our children become successful in school, work, and life so they reach their human potential.

Since 2006, Olympic has partnered with hundreds of organizations in finding ways to improve education by increasing proficiency test scores by 65% on state exams and graduation rates by about 20%. These organizations who partner with Olympic (Siemens Energy, Duke Energy, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Time Warner, Piedmont Natural Gas, etc.)  understand how communities across America are being negatively impacted because of serious conditions like these:

  • There are 4 M unfilled high paying-high skilled jobs in America, and local employers can't find qualified employees to hire
  • A significant number of Americans both nationally and locally are either underemployed or unemployed because we don't train and educate our people to do the jobs of the 21st century
  • American K-12 education is significantly  underfunded to meet the needs of a global, 21st century society
  • America is #17 in the world in Science and #25 in Math (the 2 key disciplines)
  • America remains #1 in the world in the percentage of incarcerated citizens
  • 40,000 children sit in CMS classrooms every day that have no chance in becoming successful, contributing adults if we don't change the equation and reduce the dropout rate
  • 66% of our economy is dependent on discretionary income and what we spend at the cash register, but 1) U.S. median wages have not increased since 1972, 2) we don't prepare our citizens for high paying 21st century jobs,  and 3) too many citizens become "takers" not "makers"
  • The greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world is presently underway (T. Boone Pickens)
  • "The #1 threat to the United States is the lack of a competent 21st century workforce."-- says Alan Greenspan
  • There is a silent international jobs war being undertaken that will determine the future prosperity of our children -- Gallup

A local business executive recently wrote this op-ed for the Observer  ...
Jobs are out there – for graduates who have the right skills
Other communities across the nation have acted by coming together to address these issues under the umbrella of what is known as the Ford Next Generational Learning model.  15 entire school districts across the nation have undertaken city-wide efforts to "align their interests" and reinvent the foundation of the social compact. 
One of the most successful ones is "Alignment Nashville" which has increased graduation rates from 62%-84% in just 8 years through a new leading Board of CEO's that represent the interests of the city's vital industries (if we had this type of outcome in CMS, it would be like saving the lives of 1,000 children a year by keeping them in school).  We will be replicating some best practices from the  "Alignment Nashville" model. 
Actually, Olympic and its community partners are already engaged with many of these best practices, so we are really just broadening and deepening what has been working here in SW Charlotte and helping more students, schools, teachers, and the community in general.

Mike Realon
Olympic Community of Schools