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Project Uplift has introduced the college experience to, literally, thousands of high school students over its 50-year history. Now, past recipients of that experience are sharing their appreciation during a series of multi-city events celebrating Project Uplift, the centerpiece Summer Enrichment Institute program offered by the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

The regional events currently occurring and the 50th anniversary celebration planned for June 14-16, 2019 in Chapel Hill recognize the importance of the program and serve to introduce a new endowment being created for Project Uplift. These events bring together those who have participated in the program either as a student or as a counselor, making the events into mini-reunions.

The most recent gathering attracted nearly 70 people to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (formerly Charlotte Chamber building) in the Center City of Uptown Charlotte on February 20. The event was hosted by members of the UNC Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (ACRED), Lucrecia Moore (ACRED Chair), Matt Bradley, Rashonda Burkett and Vicki Gardin.

“It’s important that we support the endowment so that we can ensure that Project Uplift is around forever,” said ACRED Chair Lucrecia Moore. “We want to ensure the sustainability of the program, which serves as the introduction to the University for so many [underrepresented] students. And that’s important.”

Although Project Uplift began as a program focusing on Black students, it has expanded over the years to become inclusive of all outstanding students, from all racial, religious, cultural and socioeconomic levels. At the Charlotte event, several attendees offered testimonials about how the Project Uplift experience made Carolina a more intimate place for them, in which they participated in educational, social and cultural activities while experiencing on-campus life. With discussions that covered topics ranging from life as a student leader to paying for college to being open to new experiences, participants also broadened their worldviews.

(L-R: Rumay, Alexander, Rashonda Burkett, Vicki Gardin, Trey Mangum, Tesarah Boyd, Lucrecia Moore)


Trey Mangum, who came to Carolina from Roxboro, NC, said he felt a sense of comfort when he went to work as a Digital Content Producer for Spectrum News after college, because one of the first people he saw was his Project Uplift Counselor, Kirstin Garriss, a former reporter for Spectrum now reporting in Memphis, TN. “Project Uplift is such an influential program in the college experience of its participants,” Mangum said. “It allowed me to recognize things about UNC that I otherwise would not have been aware of or privy to otherwise. I was able to connect with communities of people, organizations and other influences that were vital to my Carolina experience.”

Mangum and one of the students he advised as a PU counselor, Tesarah Boyd, also shared their experiences with the audience. “It made higher education seem available for me,” said Tesarah (’18), who attended PU as a high school student from Charlotte, then worked as a PU counselor. “If you’re thinking about going to college, [Project Uplift is] a good opportunity to see what it’s like.”

The inaugural PU reception took place in Atlanta in late 2018. The Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity has additional events planned for Chapel Hill, Raleigh, New York and Washington, D.C. leading up to the June celebration in Chapel Hill, which will coincide with the last week of Project Uplift 2019.

To learn more about supporting the Project Uplift Endowment or to find out how to participate in a regional event or the PU reunion on June 14-16 in Chapel Hill, please visit the following links:

Written by Linda Brown Douglas

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