Results from Economic Opportunity Task Force revealed

Updated: Mar. 27, 2017 at 5:32 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force Report was released Monday. Task Force members looked into what can be done to prevent Charlotte from being 50th out of 50 when it comes to children being born into, and staying in, poverty.

The Shetty Report, conducted by Harvard University and University of UC/Berkeley, ranks Charlotte dead last when it comes to economic mobility. Twenty community members spent about 18 months looking at data and trying to come up with solutions.

At the press conference, leaders said Charlotte is known for positive titles such as "one of the best places to start a company" and "fastest growing economies," but is embarrassed by the economic mobility study.

"We respond as a community when we feel like we have not shown ourselves as well as we know we could," Task Force Co-Chair Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown said. "Because it didn't sit well with us, we were able to move forward and say we've got to do something about it."

The Task Force says three things must happen first to address poverty: Early Care and Education, College and Career Readiness, and Child and Family Stability.

"Now we have a lens to look through," Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller said. "We have the framework to work from now. It's up to us to make sure we keep pushing and keep exhorting ourselves to do better."

Leaders admit nothing new was revealed in the report, but they claim having the information will help make things better for all.

"We have more research that shows about data in terms of generational poverty," Garmon-Brown said. "Single family homes and what that means in terms of moving in and out of that situation."

The task force came up with more than 90 recommendations and 21 priority strategies. Recommendations include having students take more college prep courses, creating more mixed-income developments, and having companies review their hiring practices.

"It is a complex situation, and it will take all of us coming together in a positive sense - not pointing fingers, not blaming - but trying to understand what we all can do together," Garmon-Brown said.

Garmon-Brown also suggested that all in Charlotte should take a Dismantling Racism course to better understand each other.

No cost associated with these recommendations was revealed. Organizers say that will come at a later date.

Andrea Smith and James Ford were announced as the new co-chairs of the Leading on Opportunity task force. They will decide short and long-term goals. Leaders say change must happen so people aren't forced to stay in poverty while living in Charlotte.

Click here to read the full report.

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