By Caylin Haldeman
Last Friday at noon, dozens of leaders from the local social good community gathered together virtually to celebrate the graduates of the 2020 CULTIVATE cohort. One of our favorite events every year, the annual CULTIVATE graduation is an opportunity to honor and celebrate the six organizations who have completed our intensive year-long incubator for emerging nonprofits.
This year, CULTIVATE graduates include:
- Ed Price – Chief Operating Officer, Charlotte Rescue Mission (Community Matters Cafe)
- Mendy Godman – Co-Founder & Executive Director, Feeding Charlotte
- Becky Santoro – Co-Founder & Executive Director, Foster Village Charlotte
- Emmanuel & Adrienne Threatt – Co-Founders, Hope Vibes
- Katie Phillips – Executive Director, Soccer Foundation of Charlotte
- Charis Blackmon – Executive Director, West Side Community Land Trust
Friday’s event was as different from our 2019 Cohort Graduation as the year that preceded it. 2020 was both a challenge and a call to action for our participants — as Managing Director Josh Jacobson said in his opening words, “last year was a unique opportunity to demonstrate the power of community-embedded nonprofits, at a time when nimbleness and trust built with people experiencing crisis were the building blocks of Charlotte’s pandemic response.”
Leadership in the Face of Change
While the graduation is an opportunity to learn about each organization’s pathway forward, we also reflected on the many ways the 2020 Cohort rose to the challenges of the past year.
We saw Community Matters Cafe, shut down during the stay at home order, build new partnerships to keep students engaged and programming active. Hope Vibes launched not one but two new services — the Hope Tank and Solar Sinks — to increase access to important hygiene items and facilities for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Foster Village leveraged its community to advocate — successfully — for the needs of foster children and families. Soccer Foundation of Charlotte created an entirely new program for children struggling with virtual learning. The West Side Community Land Trust made deep investments in permanent housing affordability. Feeding Charlotte developed dynamic new partnerships that helped keep catering companies afloat while providing meals to food access organizations.
What’s Next for the 2020 Cohort
What each graduate accomplished during the unprecedented events of 2020 is an inspiring reminder of the deep capacity of early-stage nonprofits, and many attendees resonated with the idea that “emerging” (as we call CULTIVATE cohort organizations) does not mean small impact.
As one attendee shared in the Zoom chat, “CULTIVATE — and each of these remarkable social innovators — is an antidote to anyone worried about our ability to creatively address and solve our toughest challenges.” We echo this sentiment, and encourage the Charlotte community to learn about what is next for the 2020 Cohort and get involved with our innovative graduates by clicking on the links below.
Community Matters Cafe
Foster Village Charlotte
Soccer Foundation of Charlotte
West Side Community Land Trust