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Life and Religion

Do Greater Charlotte moves to empower underserved areas
Foundation makes technology accessible
Published Friday, March 5, 2021 5:10 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Artist’s rendering of Do Greater Charlotte’s new space at Shiloh Institutional Baptist Church.

William McNeely is nearly two years removed from a bilateral lung transplant that changed his life.

The former Apple executive battled and beat idiopathic lung disease—a fight that included three years on oxygen, over 100 staples in his chest and a different path. He went from corporate to teaching in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to establishing Do Greater Charlotte, a foundation intended to provide technological access and learning opportunities in communities where it would not otherwise be accessible.

McNeely established the ice cream truck of technology in 2020, and came back with a candy store of technology in 2021.

Do Greater Charlotte is a grant recipient of Charlotte Center City Partners’ Small Business Innovation Fund.

McNeely’s most recent addition to the non-profit technology scene is a new creative learning lab that furthers the organization’s mission to expose children to technology and its value in and following school. The CRTV lab will be located in Shiloh Institutional Baptist Church (2400 Greenland Ave.), serving the West Boulevard and Wilkinson Boulevard corridors out of a 4,500-square-foot space. The converted basement will be transformed into a permanent co-working and learning space as well as a local coffee shop.

Do Greater Charlotte will work with LaBella Associates, a multi-discipline design firm, to provide architecture and engineering services.

“I’m extremely excited about our partnership with LaBella Associates to create this innovative space at Shiloh Institutional Baptist Church,” McNeely said in a statement. “Our focus from the beginning was to create spaces that offer quality technology, a creative environment that inspires and a nurturing community of support for underserved youth. This was accomplished in the Mobile CRTV Lab and now we’ll move the concept to a physical space.

“We will also partner with another small business, Enderly Coffee, to provide a coffee shop as a communal space for community interaction. In a gentrifying community, we believe a gathering space can ease initial interactions and introduce new neighbors to each other and our work.  This entire new space allows Do Greater Charlotte to move ahead with the promise to ignite creativity and empower youth in underserved communities so that they turn their ideas into future opportunities for good.”

Said LaBella studio manager Tim O’Brien: “Our partnership with Do Greater is about much more than pledging our team resources. This is about investing in the community by utilizing the existing spaces and conceptually transforming them to serve folks who live in the neighborhood. We are dedicated to making these underutilized spaces available to the people who need them.”

Last year, McNeely introduced the Mobile Creative Learning Lab—think ice cream truck that swaps out ice cream sandwiches and drumsticks for iPads, TVs and wireless internet access in areas that may otherwise lack internet. The repurposed Lance Cookie truck traveled around the city teaching people skills like coding and design.  

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