SOCIAL WELL-BEING

Oct 26, 2011
Amid the pervasive gloom and depression about the future of American cities I was lucky enough to visit recently two very different American places that hold out some hopes for a sustainable future here in the USA.
Oct 04, 2011
A Comparison of Findings and Recommendations of Two Reports: “Preparing Our Youth for Work: A Community Assessment”, August 2010 UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and “Workforce Development Sector Analysis: Focusing on Workforce Development for Adults with Barriers to Employment in Charlotte...
Sep 22, 2011
Summer officially ends Friday, and the close of a week of cloudy, unseasonably cool weather marks an occasion to look back and remind ourselves of the Carolinas Piedmont in summer 2011. It was a summer of hail storms, high winds and in some parts, even the fringes of tropical storm Irene....
Sep 15, 2011
When you think of an immigrant, what comes to mind: the person who helped build your house, or the physician discussing your treatment plan?  New research finds just as many highly skilled working-age immigrants living in the United States as low-skilled ones, with the growth rate of more educated arrivals now outpacing that of immigrants with little education.
Jul 27, 2011
Just for fun, before watching Monday night’s Charlotte City Council hearing on the newest plan for downtown Charlotte, I hauled out my yellowing copy of the 1966 Odell Plan. (See original drawings from the plan here.)   It’s both fun and humbling to see how stunningly wrong that plan...
Jul 27, 2011
Sketches above are from the 1966 Greater Charlotte Central Area Plan by A.G. Odell Jr. and Associates.  Map is from the 1960 Wilbur Smith Master Highway Transportation Plan.
Jul 27, 2011
Charlotte’s draft 2020 Vision Plan is a disappointing document. Despite the hard work, the glossy graphics are mostly pretty pictures of conventional thinking rather than visions for a different future.  A plan promoted as visionary should acknowledge that urgent environmental and...
Jul 19, 2011
In 2010, a UNC Charlotte research team led by Dr. Elizabeth Racine conducted a Mecklenburg County Community Food Assessment for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Food Policy Council.  The results of Phase 1 of that study (posted on this website in September 2010) looked at the presence or absence of...
Jun 30, 2011
The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute opens a new chapter today in fulfilling its forty-year mission of serving the Charlotte region with the launch of its new on-line Charlotte Regional Indicators website.  The Institute established the Charlotte Regional Indicators Project in 2007 to...
Jun 23, 2011
In June 2010, United Way of Central Carolinas commissioned the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute to conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment for its five-county service area.  The primary purpose of the study was to pinpoint the community’s greatest needs and identify gaps in the current...
Jun 16, 2011
The Larry King Center (LKC) of the Council for Children’s Rights recently released a plan for improving school readiness for the children in Mecklenburg County. “Unlocking the Potential of a Community: The Plan for School Readiness” is based on data, research, and input from six action teams comprised of community leaders, agency directors, and parents of young children.
Jun 08, 2011
In June 2010, United Way of Central Carolinas commissioned the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute to conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment for its five-county service area.  The primary purpose of the study was to pinpoint the community’s greatest needs and identify gaps in the current...
Jun 02, 2011
In 1960, the median age for the United States was 29.5 years, meaning that half the population was older than that, and half was younger.  In the 2010 Census, the median age for the country moved up to 37.2 years, reflecting what many demographers refer to as the “graying of America”.  As...
May 26, 2011
"Frank Lloyd Wright described vernacular architecture as 'folk building growing in response to actual needs, fitted into environment...'  Early settlers to the Piedmont – English, Scots-Irish, and German – arrived with traditional European building styles in mind,...
May 26, 2011
May is National Preservation Month.  The theme this year is “Celebrating America’s Treasures."  If you are new to the Charlotte Region, you may not be aware of the many historic treasures that can be found in this area.  One of those treasures is undoubtedly the...
May 26, 2011
The City of Salisbury has had great success as a community in preserving its past.  These photos highlight some examples of the many treasures in its commercial center and historic neighborhoods.  Read related article on this site. Photographs by Nancy Pierce
Apr 28, 2011
Sow Much Good, a local community organization dedicated to empowering residents to improve their health through better nutrition, has created an outdoor classroom and garden at Ashley Park Elementary in Charlotte.  Supported through local corporate groups including Wells Fargo, Sow Much Good...
Apr 15, 2011
In 2005 and 2006 researchers from the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute partnered with the Latin American Coalition, our region’s largest Latino outreach and advocacy organization, to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of Mecklenburg County’s rapidly growing and transitioning Latino population.
Apr 08, 2011
In 2010, a UNC Charlotte research team led by Dr. Elizabeth Racine conducted a Mecklenburg County Community Food Assessment for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Food Policy Council. The results of Phase 1 of that study (posted on this website in September 2010) looked at the presence or absence of food stores in Mecklenburg’s Census Block Groups and the relationship of that availability to various health indicators.
Feb 17, 2011
Chickens are all the rage these days.  All the fashionable neighborhoods have them.  I recently met a gentleman who’d built a stately coop behind his home in Charlotte’s Myers Park.  In Raleigh, residents flaunt their urban flocks during the annual Hen-side the Beltline Tour de Coop...
Jan 13, 2011
Today’s public libraries are expected to deliver traditional services in a rapidly changing technological environment . As libraries struggle to maintain high quality programs that are financially sustainable, the impact of the recent recession and the consequent decline in financial support further challenges libraries to find ways to survive while continuing to deliver essential services.
Jan 06, 2011
City-County consolidation, when a county and the cities within a county merge to form a single government entity, is the most visible and comprehensive change in the local government structure. With an average passage rate of fifteen percent, and only forty total consolidations in the US, city-county consolidation is an extremely rare event. Yet, during this great recession, many communities such as Charlotte, along with Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Cleveland continue to entertain the idea in order to improve their economic competitiveness.
Dec 03, 2010
Mecklenburg County, N.C. is home to the state's largest city, Charlotte. Most people living in Mecklenburg County today were born outside of North Carolina. U.S. Census Bureau data estimates from 2009, released earlier this fall, put that number at just over 58 percent. The new diversity of the county has some interesting twists. For instance, more people living in the county today were born in Mexico than Pennsylvania. More residents were born in El Salvador than in Tennessee. The percent of residents born in New Jersey tops that of either Georgia or Florida.
Oct 28, 2010
Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing a child go without. During tough economic times, more families and children must face their daily struggles with fewer resources. As the unemployment rate increased over the past several years, these struggles became more challenging and affected more people in the community. Last school year was no exception in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System (CMS). More children than ever applied for free and reduced lunch during the 2009-10 school year.
Oct 28, 2010
As a guide to the literary trivia of the Piedmont, Georgann Eubanks’ new book, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont (UNC Press), is a gem. The book will be treasured by those who love literature and the rich tradition of homegrown and imported talent that has not only celebrated this region in words, but at times taken it to task for its prejudices and occasional insularity.
Oct 28, 2010
Four years ago, my sister, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her treatment – six rounds of chemo, two surgeries and 33 sessions of radiation – took a toll on her right shoulder.  Her surgeon suggested some basic exercises for strength and mobility.  She also started swimming...
Sep 30, 2010
Community leaders and urban analysts have long recognized that vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods are critical for successful cities.  During the 1990’s, the City of Charlotte initiated an innovative framework of neighborhood focused renewal and planning.  This approach targets...
Sep 23, 2010
After boasting one of the nation’s most successful mandatory busing plans to desegregate the district’s schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) has once again become increasingly segregated.   This shift has been documented meticulously through numerous recent studies and...
Sep 23, 2010
How do you define good school bus service?  If you ask parents or students, you may hear about pickup times, long rides and time spent waiting at school for class to start or the evening bus to arrive.  With tightening budgets, school officials are more focused than ever on efficiency,...
Sep 17, 2010
High rates of obesity and diabetes have spurred research to understand the causes and to identify prevention strategies. Evaluation of the neighborhood environment as it relates to food access is a growing area of research. Many studies have found that residents in low income and minority...
Sep 17, 2010
Is it possible to build an oasis in the desert?  Not the desert that brings to mind scorched earth and stretches of hot sand miles away from water and civilization.  No. The question speaks to deserts that exist in urban centers across our country. Neighborhoods in the very heart of...
Sep 08, 2010
For both serious and casual observers of Charlotte’s economic and cultural history, a new book released in July provides a fascinating look at the effects of globalization on the city’s recent development. Published by the University of Georgia Press and edited by UNC Charlotte geography professors Bill Graves and Heather Smith, the book Charlotte, NC: The Global Evolution of a New South City is a collection of chapters written by some of the city’s most...
Sep 02, 2010
Efforts to construct subsidized apartment complexes in two South Charlotte neighborhoods were recently abandoned after Ballantyne and Ayresley residents raised concerns that the proposed projects would have a detrimental impact on surrounding property values by overburdening public infrastructure...
Aug 26, 2010
The Transportation Service Indicator Report is released annually by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and compiled at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute in cooperation with the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University. ...
Aug 10, 2010
At United Way, we talk about “creating lasting change for those most in need.”  Fulfilling that mission requires not just measurement of community needs, but a source of data that is sufficiently comprehensive to ensure that changes are far-reaching and can be tracked over time. Yet for...
Aug 10, 2010
Twenty years ago, the downtowns in our region were believed to be destined for oblivion.  Retail was leaving, if not already gone, locating along a major thoroughfare somewhere on the suburban fringe in the vicinity of the latest big box retail store, often Wal-Mart. Professional offices, if...
Jul 23, 2010
Photos by Nancy Pierce
Jul 09, 2010
From health to housing to education, the institute offers articles and research on a variety of issues affecting social well-being in the 14-county Charlotte region.  
Jul 02, 2010
This report was undertaken for the purpose of assessing the community service needs of Mecklenburg County’s Latino residents; and from this perspective, offers recommendations to public and private service providers. Report in English: Download PDF En Espanol: Download...
Mar 30, 2009
  The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute has more than 40 years of experience seeking solutions to the social, economic and environmental challenges facing our communities. Click on the images above to explore how these issues are being addressed in the Charlotte region today.