The new Howard Levine Child Development Center will be operated by the YMCA

Renaissance West Community Initiative (RWCI), the agency leading the revitalization of the site of the former Boulevard Homes public housing project, now named The Renaissance, is pleased to announce that it has raised $9.7 million of the $15 million needed for the endeavor, which will include a high-quality child development center (CDC) along with programs and services for residents. The initiative was launched in response to a critical need to improve social mobility and break the cycle of poverty for residents living on West Boulevard. The child development center, a cornerstone of the initiative, will provide high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth to age 5. The CDC will be managed by YMCA of Greater Charlotte.

The $15 million comprehensive campaign will fund construction and operating costs for the Howard Levine Child Development Center, as well as additional programs and services for families at Renaissance and the surrounding community. The $9.7 million raised to date includes a lead $1 million donation from Howard Levine. Other contributors include the Charlotte Housing Authority, the C.D. Spangler Foundation, Jerry and Rosalind Richardson and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Foundation, the grant-making arm of Foundation For The Carolinas. Hugh McColl, Jr. serves as honorary chair of the RWCI’s campaign.

“I am very excited to be part of the child development center of the Renaissance West Community Initiative. After hearing about the initiative and what it means to Charlotte’s ability to help improve social mobility, it was an easy decision to participate in this important effort,” said Howard Levine.

“Charlotte has recently turned its attention to the problem of social mobility and the need to improve opportunities for our neighbors living in poverty,” said Laura Clark, CEO of RWCI. “Mr. Levine’s gift towards the child development center underscores the importance of high-quality early education as a key lever in breaking the cycle of poverty. We are so grateful for this early investment that will help ensure children living at Renaissance can realize their full potential.”

RWCI is focused on multiple critical factors to ensure children and families have the resources they need to be successful in one of the city’s most economically challenged areas. The CDC is the final piece of the Renaissance’s master plan and is supported by research that high-quality early education is associated with positive lifelong outcomes for children. This represents a more comprehensive approach to community development than ones traditionally used in the past and will ensure the area’s youngest students will begin at the new CMS PreK-8 school at the Renaissance without having to fill a learning gap. It will also provide a stable child care environment for parents who are working hard to improve their socioeconomic situations, reducing one less stressor for the family.


YMCA Partnership

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte will operate the CDC, in a groundbreaking partnership with RWCI. The five-star CDC will serve 152 children from age 0-5. All lead teachers at the CDC will have bachelor’s degrees and the center will use an evidence-based curriculum that focuses on healthy child development.

“We know that this is one of the most challenged communities in Charlotte for social mobility and wanted to dig in on the West side,” said Michael DeVaul, senior vice president and chief community impact officer for the YMCA. “YMCA operating a Child Development Center will be a first for North Carolina, and we’re hopeful this will become part of our strategic plan for the organization and could see it being replicated in other parts of the city. It’s a really big deal and we want to do it right.”

“We are excited about partnering with such a highly respected institution in our community that has always had a mission that focuses on child and family well-being,” said Clark. “Their presence on West Boulevard at the Stratford Richardson YMCA made them a natural fit.”

RWCI’s mission is to restore opportunity through comprehensive neighborhood revitalization, which includes a focus on early childhood learning. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is nationally recognized for its effective literacy and early childhood development programs and serves as a model for other YMCAs. Locally, the Y has provided programs that address the achievement gap for more than 15 years. The Y has extensive early childhood education resources and runs CDCs in 17 other states.

“We see that residents at The Renaissance and beyond are now seeing their needs for stable, high-quality housing and job placement being taken care of, and CMS will be providing an innovative PreK-8 school, so this is the last missing piece,” added DeVaul. “The Child Development Center will also serve as a portal to the other programming that the YMCA has to offer for the whole family.”