Charlotte is deeply divided geographically by income and wealth. The chasm between rich and poor in Charlotte is so wide that Charlotte has been referred to as the “Tale of Two Cities: the City of Poverty, and the City of Prosperity.” Concentrated areas of poverty are a key indicator of low community economic mobility. In the map below, you can clearly see the division in income and wealth. The south Charlotte Wedge, which makes up less than 25% of the geographic area of the city, contains over 75% of the cities wealth.
In the Scriptures, we see God create two institutions as the pillars of society; the church and the family. And the church is made up of… Families. So is it any wonder that these two institutions are under constant spiritual and societal attack. As the family breaks down, it leads to many other societal injustices; such as domestic violence, human trafficking, and foster & adoption needs. The church has a call to build strong and healthy families, and as you can see in the map below, there are a tremendous about of broken families in Charlotte.
There is a direct correlation between quality of education and economic mobility. Students who read on grade level by third grade are 96% more likely to graduate high school, a key economic mobility indicator. Currently, 39% of CMS third graders are reading on grade level. In order to help the city flourish, the church must be involved in the educational system, as 1 in 7 citizens of our city attends a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School. The map below will help you begin the research of different needs of CMS Schools.
As you can see in the map below, Charlotte is clearly divided by race and ethnicity across geographic lines. High levels of racial segregation are directly correlated to low levels of community economic mobility. That said, what this map does not show is what led to the racial divisions. For the church to be the reconcilers our city needs, we must understand both the current state of racial division and the systemic injustice that led to this place.
Social Capital measures the level of trust between people, people groups, or races. It is the glue that holds society together. Both voter participation and crime rates are key indicators of community connectedness and social capital. When communities don’t turn out to vote or feel safe, they have a low level of social capital. Lower social capital is directly associated with lower economic mobility. As you can see in the map below, there is a low level of social capital in the Crescent (West, North, and East Charlotte). As the church, we are called to be trust-builders in the community.