Scholarship launched for Black males
by Steve Lyttle, Charlotte Observer
Spangler, whose two daughters attended West Charlotte, said the Anthony Foxx Scholars Program is aimed at curbing the high dropout rate at the school, where more than half the male African American students quit before graduation.
“We’re not sure if it will work, but we’ll give it a try,” said Spangler, a construction magnate and former president of the UNC system.
The $2 million scholarship fund – to be divided equally among CPCC and the University of North Carolina system – was part of more than $4.5 million awarded by the Spangler Foundation to educational-based programs.
The gifts even included $1,000 for each of the 176 principals in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, for their personal use. Another big benefactor was Teach for America, which received $1.5 million from the fund.
Spangler said he named the scholarship fund for Foxx, a West Charlotte High graduate who was elected Charlotte’s mayor in November – but not personally for him.
“I told the mayor, ‘This is not to honor you personally. This is to help motivate students to follow the lead you set.”
Foxx said he was “moved beyond words” and added that the scholarship fund will show students, “If you reach up, there will be help to get your across the finish line.”
C.D. and Meredith Spangler’s two daughters are West Charlotte graduates, and Spangler said he spent the summer between his freshman and sophomore years in college helping build West Charlotte High.
“The dropout rate at West Charlotte is over 50 percent,” Spangler said during a news conference to announce the gifts. “The dropout is in perpetual poverty for life. And that person also becomes a problem in the community – due to the cost of social support. We’ll try this.”
West Charlotte annually is among the lowest-performing CMS high schools in state end-of-grade tests.
More than 70 percent of its 1,700-plus students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, a measure of poverty.
Spangler also gave West Charlotte High Principal Shelton Jefferies a $50,000 check to pay the college application fees for any student – regardless of race or gender.
Referring to the various donations announced by Spangler on Wednesday, UNC system President Erskine Bowles said, “These 11 gifts will help take people from the cradle to college. The Spanglers have made an investment in Charlotte.”
CPCC President Tony Zeiss said he is excited about the prospect of helping reduce the dropout rate at West Charlotte, calling the scholarship program “an exciting experiment.”
Spangler said he had a longstanding tie to West Charlotte High, noting that between his freshman and sophomore years in college, his summer job in construction had him working on the school’s construction.
“Many years ago, the Spangler family helped build the foundation of West Charlotte High,” CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman said. “Now they are making sure the school grows.”