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Cooper-Lewter Will Leave Charlotte's Economic Opportunity Group

Leading on Opportunity

Stephanie Cooper-Lewter, who was tapped in 2018 to lead Charlotte's quest to shed it's "50th of 50" label for lack of economic opportunity, will leave to lead another group promoting financial stability.

Leading on Opportunity, a group created by the Opportunity Task Force in 2017, announced this week that Cooper-Lewter will leave in January. She's moving to Financial Security CLT, a coalition of agencies focused on improving economic mobility for Charlotte-area families. It's based at Crisis Assistance Ministry.

Leaders of both groups said the shift will keep Cooper-Lewter working on the same essential issues: Helping families and children escape poverty. 

Credit James Ford
James Ford, co-chair of Leading on Opportunity

"At the core of Stephanie's leadership is her unwavering commitment to racial equality and centering diverse community voices to inform our work," Leading on Opportunity co-chair James Ford said in a statement. "This commitment will be important in her new role, and in shaping the continued work of Leading on Opportunity."

Carol Hardison, CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry, said Cooper-Lewter's "deep knowledge of the financial barriers our local families often face" makes her perfect for the new role.

The city's focus on mobility and opportunity was sparked by a 2014 academic study known as the Chetty report that ranked Charlotte last among 50 large cities for children of poverty growing up to become affluent. The Opportunity Task Force and Leading on Opportunity worked to define the barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty and rally efforts for change.

Leading on Opportunity identified early childhood education, family stability, college and career readiness as key opportunities for improvement, with segregation and lack of social capital as factors that hold people back.

Brian Collier, executive vice president at Foundation For The Carolinas, will temporarily step in at Leading on Opportunity when Cooper-Lewter leaves in mid-January.

Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.