Queens Receives $2.5M Investment from Lowe's for New Talent Initiative
First of Several Partnerships to Boost Upward Mobility for Charlotte High School Students
by Keith Pierce
Queens University President Dan Lugo welcomed senior executives from Lowe's Companies Inc. to announce details of the Charlotte Talent Initiative (CTI), a newly established partnership between organizations in Mecklenburg County and Queens to expand Charlotte's talent pipeline while also impacting the lives of low-income graduates of local high schools.
"Higher education should serve to create a level playing field for driven individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic background. That’s what economic mobility is all about," President Lugo said in his remarks. "Queens University of Charlotte might be the best in the city and in the county and in the entire state in creating upward mobility, but our role in this community means we must continue to create more opportunities for the people of Charlotte."
Lowe's representatives, including Marvin Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer; Janice Dupré, executive vice president of human resources; Margi Vagell, senior vice president and general merchandising manager; and Joel Cogdell, division president, South Division; as well as Sherri Chisholm, executive director, Leading on Opportunity; joined President Lugo at the Belk Chapel for a press conference and check presentation to formalize Lowe's $2.5 million investment.
"We are beyond honored to have Lowe's as our first corporate partner in this bold effort that begins to level the playing field for talented young people, while also fueling Charlotte's engine of economic mobility," President Lugo said. "We at Queens, are honored to build upon the legacy of creating opportunity with today's announcement. Today, we are changing the lives of Charlotteans on our way to transforming Charlotte."
CTI will create pipelines of socioeconomically diverse and talented university graduates to contribute to the most pressing organizational needs of partner organizations. The annual Lowe's investment over four years will provide full-tuition scholarships for students in the Lowe's cohort. Through the partnership, Queens will create a cohesive set of business management opportunities to educate students in modern leadership within the context of a liberal arts curriculum.
"We're committed to opening more doors for talented and hard-working students because we know that creating pathways to economic and social mobility is critical for building the workforce of the future," Ellison said. "By welcoming students of all backgrounds to explore retail management careers, this partnership is right in keeping with Lowe's history of investing in communities and our focus on initiatives that break down barriers to opportunity. And it aligns perfectly with our commitment to make a meaningful impact on our hometown Charlotte community."
The Lowe's partnership will enable Queens to infuse curricular and co-curricular management experiences throughout the student experience. The program will provide students with an authentic application of learning while providing Lowe's with a pipeline of valuable interns and graduates.
"Collaborative college and career readiness efforts like the Charlotte Talent Initiative are putting low-income students on the path toward achieving economic mobility,” said Sherri Chisholm, executive director for Leading on Opportunity. "Queens' and Lowe's commitment to these students' success through education combined with mentorship and internship opportunities will help them be successful in the classroom and life. These types of partnerships will help us close the economic mobility gap – one family at a time."
The first Lowe's student cohort will begin in the 2022 Fall semester. Students will take a suite of management, business and leadership courses designed and developed in partnership with Lowe's while pursuing a major in their chosen field of interest.
"The success of the Lowe's and Queens partnership will expand our applicant pool, increase retention and graduation rates, and enable the university to change the trajectory of the lives of traditionally under-resourced students who are poised to make meaningful contributions to our community," President Lugo said. "This is the beginning of an extraordinary journey for Queens and Lowe’s as we partner to recruit, educate, support, and propel students to incredible business careers and lives of purpose, meaning and impact."