Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement Program

In a vibrant city like Charlotte, it’s easy to overlook the fact that many are suffering amid affluence. Our Civic Engagement Program increases awareness of the complex issues facing more than 100,000 neighbors living in poverty.

Even families whose income is twice the Federal Poverty Level struggle to afford safe housing, reliable transportation, child care, utilities, food, and other necessities. An unexpected event such as an illness or job loss can send an accomplished person into a downward financial spiral.

More than 100,000 of our neighbors live in poverty. 

Empowering Advocates

The Civic Engagement Program engages and empowers the community to be advocates for people facing poverty by:

  • Increasing awareness of the complex issues that make it challenging for some neighbors to make ends meet
  • Encouraging community dialogue and participation in removing barriers to financial security
  • Changing attitudes and policies that create barriers to economic mobility

The most powerful advocates are customers themselves. We provide training to highly motivated individuals interested in sharing their story and effecting positive change for others living in poverty.

Poverty Simulations

Since 2008, Crisis Assistance Ministry has been the local lead facilitator of the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS), a two-hour interactive, immersive experience designed to create awareness among participants of life at the bottom rung of the economic ladder.  The simulation presents participants with real-life scenarios and challenges faced by people living in poverty and is immediately followed by a group debrief, during which participants reflect on the experience, discuss insights, and consider next steps.

Can Baby Bonds Ease the Racial Wealth Gap?

The impacts of wealth inequalities are quite evident every day at Crisis Assistance where we see people, through no fault of their own, struggling to pay rent, keep the lights on, and afford clothes for their children. In a community that is majority white, the overwhelming majority of people who seek help with basic needs here are Black and Hispanic. But the reality is that the nonprofit sector can only do so much to address the long-term struggles of the economically disenfranchised. Systemic policies have created and sustained the continued wealth gap, and it will require a systemic approach to reverse that impact.

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Transforming Unjust Systems: MLK Day 2023

Martin Luther King Day, the only federal holiday designated as a day of service, is observed on the third Monday of January, near his birth date of January 15. It is a time to not only reflect on his life and legacy but also to find ways to further his work toward racial and economic justice. Fifty-five years after his death, Dr. King’s dream has yet to come true. Although progress has been made in many areas, there is still much work to be done.

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Guaranteed Basic Income for Charlotteans?

With the winter upon us, families in Charlotte, and across the country, are struggling to make ends meet. Inflation growth has outpaced wage growth, resulting in a three percent decline in real hourly earnings. People are working harder than ever but still falling behind on rent and utilities. The amount of their past due bills is increasing but their paychecks are not. To put it simply, people need more money. But should we use policy to get more money into the hands of those who need it the most?

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A Cozy Coat Can Help Your Neighbors Stay Warm

Steve’s Coats for Kids welcomes new or gently used coats of all sizes, from children’s sizes up to adult sizes, and the coats that are collected in Charlotte-Mecklenburg will be added to the Crisis Assistance Ministry Free Store or distributed to our countywide Partner Agencies to provide to their clients.

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Native American Heritage Month: We Are Still Here

This month is an opportunity to learn more about histories of the Indigenous and Native cultures of America, and where those histories intersect in the present.

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Heat and Inequities in the Urban Environment

The world is hot, but it’s even hotter inside of cities, partly due to the “urban heat island,” which occurs “when cities replace natural land cover with dense concentrations of pavement, buildings, and other surfaces that absorb and retain heat.” It’s an issue of inequity that often directly affects customers who visit Crisis Assistance Ministry.

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On Juneteenth, Equity, Equality, and Freedom

Juneteenth marks a celebration of freedom—at least in the legal sense of the word.  But it also evokes several bitter truths surrounding emancipation and its legacy. We see the ripples of that legacy here every day as we work to help our neighbors whose struggles are made more difficult by the social and systemic legacies of chattel slavery in the United States.
As we reflect on a historic moment in time, we can’t overlook the centuries of disenfranchisement that have followed legal emancipation and consider whether true freedom, equity, and equality have yet to arrive for many of our fellow citizens.

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The Cycle of Poverty and Mental Illness

Defining the connection between poverty and mental illness is a chicken-and-egg scenario: does mental illness create an inability to overcome a state of poverty, or does poverty increase or perpetuate the occurrence of mental illness?

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Deborah: Growing Stronger As An Advocate

When we last looked in on Deborah, she was emerging from a time of crisis with a renewed sense of her purpose. Today, she’s thriving as a Customer Advocate sharing her story. And every time she does, she becomes a little bit stronger.

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Walk with a Family Facing Financial Crisis

Walk with a family facing financial crisis to learn how you help prevent homelessness and preserve dignity for hardworking neighbors right here in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

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International Women’s Day

Observed worldwide as a celebration of “the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women,” International Women’s Day is also a global call to action for accelerating women’s equality. At Crisis Assistance Ministry, we see women’s extraordinary perseverance and potential every day. Hardworking women like Mariagrazia, who was sidelined by an accident but refused to give up, and Shavonna, whose tenacity and grace are a testament to her indomitable spirit.

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