Over the past decade, Charlotte, North Carolina, has experienced an influx of new business development, declining unemployment and rising consumer and small business confidence.footnote1 While the coronavirus interrupted those positive trends, the long-term outlook for the city and surrounding areas is bright. And yet, the benefits of a thriving economy are not distributed equally. A study by Harvard researchers ranked Charlotte last among the 50 largest U.S. cities for economic mobility, and found that children growing up in low-income households have little chance at escaping poverty.footnote2
To combat this, the nonprofit Road to Hire has been working since 2013 to provide pathways for professional development and career advancement for Charlotte’s young adults. At five area high schools that serve mostly low-income students, seniors can enroll in a year-long Road to Hire course that offers a tangible payoff. Top students earn four-year college scholarships or are placed in six-month, paid apprenticeships. During these six months, students build a range of technical and professional skills, like coding and public speaking, to prepare for permanent jobs in cybersecurity, software engineering and other technology fields. “We are looking at long-term, high-earning stable careers,” says Kacey Grantham, executive director, Road to Hire. “That's really the mission behind everything that we're doing.”
As part of our $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, Bank of America provides ongoing support for Road to Hire and helps fund wages for the apprentices. The bank is also one of several Charlotte-area hiring partners employing graduates of Road to Hire programs. Today, more than 350 students are enrolled in the high school course. To date, Road to Hire has helped more than 400 students through college and has launched more than 200 young people into tech careers.