Charlotte-Based Nonprofit Carolina Youth Coalition Receives Grant From NBA Foundation

August 10, 2022 – The NBA Foundation today announced that Charlotte-based nonprofit Carolina Youth Coalition (CYC) has received a generous grant as part of the Foundation’s sixth grant round. In addition, the Foundation again awarded local nonprofit Road to Hire (R2H) with a grant renewal. Overall, 40 nonprofit organizations that are driving economic empowerment for Black youth across the country received a total of $20 million in grants this cycle. The grants will enhance and build upon the important work of these organizations that aligns with the NBA Foundation’s mission of helping to generate successful transitions from school to meaningful employment in Black communities across the United States and Canada.  

“We are very pleased that the NBA Foundation has recognized the incredible work that Carolina Youth Coalition is doing to help some of our promising, yet vulnerable, local students find a path to successful careers,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield.  “Carolina Youth Coalition is leading the way in helping to remove social, academic and financial barriers to a college education, which has proven to be critical to one’s long-term success. We are proud to have had the opportunity to assist Carolina Youth Coalition in receiving this deserved and needed funding that will help provide even more of our local students with opportunities to prosper, and we are equally excited that Road to Hire has had its grant renewed to continue expanding its important programming as well.”

For nearly seven years, since a Harvard study identified Charlotte as the most unlikely large city in America for someone to make their way out of poverty, economic mobility has been at the forefront of conversation amongst community and business leaders. Carolina Youth Coalition was created in 2018 to help prepare low-income and first-generation college students in the Charlotte area who are high achieving yet often under-resourced to enter, excel in and graduate from college. The grant from the NBA Foundation will support the organization’s Torch Fellows Program, which pairs 9th-12th graders who will be first-generation college students with mentors and provides weekly college and consciousness programming designed to prepare students to be academically, socially and financially prepared to enter their best-fit college. While hundreds of students have taken advantage of CYC’s programming, over 2,000 students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools qualify for their services.

"We are so thankful for the support that the Charlotte Hornets Foundation has shown us, and for the generous donation from the NBA Foundation,” said Carolina Youth Coalition Co-Founder & Executive Director Aaron Randolph. “Each and every day we strive to help our Fellows recognize their full potential and achieve their dreams. This grant will help us reach even more under-resourced students across Charlotte and provide them with the opportunities, mentorship and support to transform their trajectories.”

For the entirety of a school year, CYC Torch Fellows commit to attending two “core programs” each week on topics ranging from self-awareness to ACT prep to college, scholarship and financial aid application support. In 2020-21, there were more than 110 Torch Fellows, marking a 57 percent increase from the year prior. Of those, 100 percent of seniors in the program were accepted to a four-year college and $2.3 million in scholarships were redeemed, meaning 66 percent were able to attend college debt-free. This past school year, there were 162 Fellows, with 87 percent of seniors being first-generation college applicants, who redeemed $3.5 million in scholarships. To date, 96% of Torch Fellows who have entered college remain enrolled and on track to graduate from college. CYC aims to enroll an additional 100 students for their 2022-23 and 2023-24 programming.

Road to Hire works to change the story and abolish career gatekeeping, dismantle systems of privilege and systemic racism, and create real access for under-served young adults. The organization connects under-resourced young adults with onramps to high-earning and in-demand careers in technology through college access, paid training for their first career job and robust life skills support. 

In addition to CYC and R2H, the NBA Foundation awarded grants to the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, Inc., Year Up and Black Girl Ventures, all of which are national organizations with a presence in Charlotte. The NBA Foundation will continue to collaborate with all 30 teams, their affiliated charitable organizations and the NBPA to support national and local organizations and their efforts to increase education and employment access in Black communities.