Schul Forum to be held in 2021; new 'conversations on opportunity' this spring

Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Staff Reports
Schul Forum panelists in 2019 at UNC Charlotte

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the second annual Marianne M. & Norman W. Schul Forum Series will be delayed a year, to the fall of 2021. Originally scheduled for November 2020, this year’s forum was slated to focus on the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute’s collaborative work around increasing economic mobility.  

Economic mobility will remain the focus of the 2021 forum. In order to create a strong foundation of community understanding and involvement  leading up to the event, we will host a series of online webinars  known as “Schul Conversations on Opportunity,” beginning in the spring of 2021. These conversations will engage local and national leaders to discuss key aspects of the challenge to expand economic mobility in the Charlotte region.

The Schul Conversations will also showcase the research of the institute’s Gambrell Faculty Fellows, the second cohort of which were announced this week. The Gambrell Faculty Fellowship was launched in 2019 with support from The Gambrell Foundation, in collaboration with the Charlotte Opportunity Insights Partnership. The program’s primary goal is to build a cadre of faculty researchers and a body of work to inform and impact the Charlotte area, particularly around issues of economic mobility. 

“In many ways the shared aims of the Charlotte Opportunity Insights Partnership and the Gambrell Faculty Fellowship were to build a groundswell of relevant information the community could rely on to build understanding and support decision-making,” notes Dr. Lori Thomas, the Institute’s Director of Research & Faculty Engagement.  “The Schul Conversations will give us a chance to do just that by putting our Gambrell Faculty Fellows up front to share the findings of their research.”

Both the 2021 Schul Forum and the Schul Conversations webinar series will expand the geographic scope of the opportunity discussion to include communities outside of Mecklenburg.  

“The Schul Forum was established as a regional event, focusing on policy issues that impact the entire Charlotte region,” says Jeff Michael, the institute’s director.  “People often don’t realize that the geographic definition of ‘Charlotte’ that Harvard’s Opportunity Insights team used in their acclaimed 2014 study that ranked Charlotte 50th out of 50 among metro areas in economic mobility was actually a commuting zone that included non-urban counties such as Anson and Gaston.  As we heard at the first annual Schul Forum in 2019, which focused on urban-rural connections, economic opportunity has a geographic dimension, and the decisions we make to expand opportunity in policy areas such as education, housing and transportation are regional in scope.”

More details about the spring Schul Conversations on Opportunity will be available later this fall.

The Marianne M. & Norman W. Schul Urban Institute Forum Series was established in 2018 to serve as an annual event focused on policy issues affecting the Charlotte region, convening local leaders, national experts and researchers from the institute and other parts of UNC Charlotte. The institute’s first director, Dr. Norm Schul, and his wife, Marianne ‘73, enabled the creation of the series with a generous gift