15 Jan 2018

How We Got Started

When visionaries collide… With well-known education philanthropist

15 Jan 2018

When visionaries collide…

With well-known education philanthropist Dale Halton as the catalyst, the Aspire Carolinas Foundation team brought their extensive backgrounds in philanthropy, education, and fundraising together to create a new model of “school.”

Dale Halton and Jennifer Nichols began planning for an organization to help establish independent schools in areas where there is a clear need for alternative educational settings for students who learn differently. The organization would assist local communities in creating a framework of collaboration and network of support to establish and maintain each school.

They worked with Marty McCarthy on the start-up phase. Marty had served as Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church when he experienced the call to begin opening schools in the Carolina region based on the Classical Education model. Jennifer Nichols had many years working in both education and non-profit fundraising, with a specific focus and passion for helping challenged learners. Dale Halton is a well-known philanthropist who has supported education in the Charlotte region for decades.

What if they could partner to help children with learning differences and Asperger’s all across the Charlotte region gain access to small schools in their local community? They knew there was a huge need, and there are children currently struggling in their local public and private schools unable to attain success.

By partnering with existing special needs schools looking to expand into new areas, and with local communities already organizing to create schools, a vision to create a non-profit to support the opening and expansion of these schools was born. Slowly an idea took shape and they felt they had been pulled together for a reason. The perfect team, with a wealth of experience to achieve the number one goal of Aspire Carolinas: to give every child the ability to succeed, had been created.

One driver of success will be the curated selection of staff and board members. Combining their many talents, the staff and board has years of experience and expertise in starting new schools, working with key stakeholders, donor management, advancement, non-profit fundraising, business acumen, zoning, government, entrepreneurship, communications, marketing, administration, and special education. Above all, a drive and a passion to help students with learning differences. This established, seasoned team is the best of the best!

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