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Gantt Center Launches EnVision Me In New Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Collaboration

The EnVision Me School Partnership Program is a longitudinal collaborative community effort created by the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture that will be launched virtually Thursday, February 17 with Marie G. Davis Middle School, a Title I school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The Gantt Center's Initiative for Equity + Innovation leverages the museum's art exhibitions, programs and relationships to help close cultural divides and promote diversity. EnVision Me originates from these efforts, solidifying the Gantt Center’s stance on culturally relevant educational programming and addressing the call for action towards equity in education—a key indicator for economic mobility.

Learn more about the EnVision Me School Partnership Program here.

“Equitable education is paramount for the holistic education of children,” said David Taylor, President & CEO of the Gantt Center. “We are so pleased to initiate this important program with a district and school leaders who are motivated to help their students ignite a passion for learning. Developing creativity through a lens of cultural awareness and understanding is vital for addressing equity disparities using a long term approach.”

An arm of the program includes an artist residency that will cultivate student creativity by encouraging teaching artists to design culturally rich, project-oriented art activities that support learning through visual teaching strategies and specialized curriculums. During the initial six- week program, students will examine, discuss, and create works of art that explore specific topics with hands-on collaborative activities and reflective discussions.

“I would like Marie G. Davis students to understand that art goes beyond academics,” said Phillip Johnson, Principal of Marie G. Davis. “It is important to know that when there is a high level of community support from parental involvement and partnership programs, it has a positive impact on students’ academic, social and emotional needs. By doing so, it influences the school culture and shifts students’ mindsets on ways that they can help support, not only their local community, but also community on a global scale.”

The goals of EnVision Me are to build cultural awareness and understanding of community; provide students with a platform for self-discovery and confidence-building; use the creative process as a foundation for idea formation and articulation; increase students’ awareness of visual literacy and to help students develop critical thinking skills. After the run of each full series of programs, students will visit the Gantt Center for a guided tour of the museum. Visits to the Gantt Center support the residencies, offering new insight and perspective into art while simultaneously challenging students to think critically about their own identity and experiences.

"Teachers at Marie G. Davis are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with the Gantt Center,” said Stephanie Mould, 7-12 grade art teacher at Marie G. Davis. “Charlotte is rich with the arts, so giving students access to programs outside their everyday classes is an eye- opening experience into what this city has to offer. Likewise, after working virtually for so long, with little to no resources, we are thrilled to give students hands on experience with photography. Students and teachers both are eager to connect with our community and explore the arts in a bigger way."

Envision Me is made possible through a major financial contribution from the Oscar & Heide Groomes Family Trust. Financial support is also provided by Rodgers Builders, Porter & Victoria Durham, Bertram Scott and global investment firm, Barings. As funding grows, additional schools will be invited to participate.

"We support The Gantt Center because of our strong sense of social conscience and sense of duty to tackle inequality. Our belief in uplifting Black culture, our personal values and desire to leave a positive legacy is why we give,” said donors Oscar and Heide Groomes.

Student projects that are created throughout the initial six-week pilot program will be on display virtually on the Gantt Center’s website, and more opportunities for students to exhibit will be offered throughout the year. The students will also regularly respond to surveys to gauge interest, effectiveness and growth.

About Marie G. Davis Middle School

Marie G. Davis Middle School aspires to create active, curious citizens who are passionate about making the world a better place, and serving all of its inhabitants. Through working with our community leaders, international organizations, and government education systems, we will design and facilitate learning systems and opportunities that will develop the whole child. These learning systems and opportunities will ultimately help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding. Learn more at schools.cms.k12.nc.us/mariegdavisES.

About The Groomes

D. Oscar Groomes is a Metallurgical Engineer, Physicist and Materials Scientist by trade. He earned BS degrees at both Tougaloo College and Brown University and an MS from Carnegie- Mellon University before joining General Electric (GE) in 1984, then GE Plastics in 1988. Mr. Groomes has held positions as President of GE Plastics South America in Brazil, General Manager of the Polycarbonate Business in Europe, President of GE Specialty Chemicals and President and CEO of GE Rail Services in Chicago, Illinois. In 2004 he left GE to join Almatis, a privately held LBO, as Chief Executive Officer based in Frankfurt, Germany. Oscar retired from Almatis after its successful sale in December 2007. Oscar is currently consulting with Groomes Business Solutions providing growth and transformation strategies, and is a Managing Director at consulting group Arcadia International and is a frequent lecturer.

Heidemarie “Heide” Groomes utilizes her 25-year record of success in leadership to help organizations reach and sustain an innovative market position in a global arena. Proficient in German, Heide has led culturally diverse teams in Europe, China, Japan, Brazil and India. Her industry experience ranges from financial services to pharmaceuticals, plastics and specialty chemicals. From 2005 to 2007 she served as Chief Commercial Officer at Almatis GmbH in Frankfurt Germany, nearly doubling the business during her tenure. Prior to this, Heide spent 11 years at General Electric (GE), where she developed a medical market strategy that launched GE Plastics into new markets. Subsequently, Heide held sales and marketing positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Mobil Plastics and PepsiCo. Heide is currently co-owner of Groomes Business Solutions with her husband Oscar, helping private equity firms from their vantage point as industry experts in the chemical and rail industries and serving as interim CEO and CCO roles for private equity-owned companies in transition.

About Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture is a multi-disciplinary arts institution located in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1974, the Gantt Center’s mission is to present, preserve and celebrate excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent through visual and literary arts, dance music, film, educational programs, theatre productions and community outreach. The Gantt Center features fine art exhibitions from around the world and is home to the nationally celebrated John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art, which was generously donated by Bank of America, and is accessible online.

Named for Charlotte civic leader and former mayor Harvey Bernard Gantt, the Gantt Center is housed in an inspired and distinguished award-winning structure designed by architect Philip Freelon, co-designer of the new Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). For more information about the Gantt Center and the Initiative for Equity + Innovation, visit ganttcenter.org.

Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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