Social Capital: Charlotte’s New “Buzz Phrase”

Molly Shaw, President

Social Capital is Charlotte’s new buzz phrase. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force named social capital the “secret sauce” for improving economic mobility, and many organizations are talking about how to build it. So what is Social Capital? It’s the idea that relationships and networks have value, and when those networks are shared, they will expose people to new possibility and open doors to opportunity. Think about the people in your life who connected you to a new experience or introduced you to someone who helped you advance. Maybe it was a childhood conversation when you learned you could work as an artist or a banker. Or when you realized you could own your own business. Perhaps it was when someone made a call or sent an email on your behalf. Or maybe it was an internship that someone set-up so you could experience and experiment within the work world. Maybe it was simply seeing that a future existed that you had never thought possible.

Kids can’t be what they can’t see, and all young people need exposure and opportunities to meet a wide range of people and careers, so that they might find a connection, an experience, a person – that could truly be life-changing. And when adults exchange social capital with kids, we benefit, too.

This is why Communities In Schools is so grateful and excited about the recent announcement from Albemarle Corporation and Bank of America that they are jointly donating $20 million to 17 local nonprofits. CIS will receive $2.5 million over the next five years, a truly momentous gift. A significant portion of our funding will go to supporting our city-wide social capital initiative, where our team works to connect students with companies and individuals to give them access to new social, cultural, and work-life experiences.

Social capital is an exchange that benefits everyone involved and will benefit our city’s future. As you’ll read in this newsletter, Albemarle Corporation, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, LPL Financial, Sonic Automotive, and the McColl Center understand this. Please join these and many more companies and individuals who have recently stepped up and made a commitment to our CIS model of surrounding students with a community of support, and more specifically, our social capital movement. You could be changing the trajectory of a student’s life – or your own.