North Carolina is ranked 15th in the nation when it comes to charitable giving according to a June 2013 report by the Tax Foundation. In another report by Blackbaud – a top fundraising and donor management software company – Charlotte is ranked 33rd as the most generous online city out of 265 cities across the U.S. with a population of 100,000 or more. Even more staggering is the $298.4 billion in charitable donations that Giving USA says individuals, foundations, and corporations gave in 2012.
These statistics are great news for Charlotte and the more than 6,100 nonprofits that call Mecklenburg County home (source National Center for Charitable Statistics), but it also has implications beyond our borders. On August 2-12, a group of Charlotte businesses will visit Medellin, Colombia and take Charlotte’s message of benevolence and philanthropy with them as they work with pre-schools and disadvantage families.
Charlotte companies, AirTight, Rooster Communications, and Toolwell are sponsoring contemporary artist Edwin Gil – a Colombian native and 13-year Charlotte resident – and his Faces of Diversity social art initiative. These businesses have partnered with two other Medellin based companies, Clamasan and Agro Mais, to benefit the early childhood education program, Buen Comienzo (Healthy Start), funded by the City of Medellin.
Volunteers from each business will assist Gil as he collects 1,000 thumbprints on small pieces of glass from some of Medellin’s most impoverished children. These thumbprints will be incorporated into a large 8’ X 8’ piece of artwork on recycled glass.
Gil and the volunteers plan to demonstrate how art can serve as a refuge. Gil will reveal his own story of growing up poor and the inspiration he drew from art to break the cycle of poverty. This international public-private partnership shows how supporting early childhood education through the arts can positively affect overall development. According to American’s for the Arts, artistic expression has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries.
Connie Crumpton, VP of Business Development for AirTight and one of the volunteers that will make the trip to Colombia says, “Charlotte is chock full of philanthropists and it’s our hope to take a little bit of our community’s corporate citizenship values to the businesses of Medellin. Whether you choose to give at home or abroad, the key is to give your time, talent or treasure to something you’re passionate about.”
Public-private partnerships are nothing new in the U.S. and have been around for 200 years according the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. They are also essential tools during tough economic times. In countries, like Colombia, where 15 million of its residents live at or below the poverty level, private dollars to assist public programs are especially important (source: Colombia Reports).
Rooster Communications’ president, Brian Cockman, created the public-private partnership among the businesses and the Mayor’s Office of Medellin after touring Buen Comienzo pre-schools this past May with Gil and Crumpton. Buen Comienzo works with families and children ages 0-5 years in the areas of education, nutrition, family and community.
by Being Latino Contributor, Brian Cockman. To learn more about him, go to Rooster Communications