Urban Institute Schul Forum Series

Brookhill Village, a decrepit housing development near uptown Charlotte, with the city skyline in the background.
​​Photo: Brookhill Village, a low-income housing project originally built for Black residents in the 1950s, sits in a rapidly gentrifying part of Charlotte, just a couple miles from the city's glitzy skyline. By Clayton Hanson. 

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.

The Schul Forum also highlights the work of the Gambrell Faculty FellowsThe Schuls, flanking author and keynote speaker Sarah Smarsh at the 2019 Schul Foruman Urban Institute program which supports scholars researching economic mobility and  related issues, and ensures that our community can access that work. 

The 2021 Schul Forum was held virtually with more than 200 attendees (the 2020 event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic). Videos and more detailed information are below.

The 2022 Schul Forum is scheduled for Nov. 17 at the Dubois Center in uptown Charlotte. Registration information will be released soon.

Dr. Karen Chapple, a nationally known researcher who has studied transit, gentrification and displacement, will be the keynote speaker at the 2022 forum. Chapple is Director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, as well as Professor Emerita of City & Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where she led the Urban Displacement Project. 

The forum will also feature a panel of local experts, policymakers and community members talking about the issues we face around housing, affordability, transit and economic mobility in Charlotte. 

Prior to the 2022 Schul Forum, two virtual conversations are scheduled to discuss gentrification, displacement and transit in Charlotte. Information and registration for the second conversation — "Transportation: Trains vs. Buses vs. Cars in a Growing Charlotte" — is available online. That conversation will take place at noon on Oct. 20. 

2021 Schul Forum: Moving the Needle in Charlotte and beyond

Fiftieth out of 50. Worst large metro region for economic mobility. Housing is too expensive. Homelessness numbers are growing. The racial wealth gap is really a chasm. The gaps between students who have and students who make do without are growing. And the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the divides in our society when it comes to jobs, economic opportunity, prosperity and security more vividly than any crisis in generations. 

We've been talking about economic mobility in Charlotte for a long time, but have we really moved the needle? And what steps can we take that will make a concrete difference for people in our community, enabling better access to jobs, education, health and the opportunity to improve their quality of life?

That was the focus of the 2021 Schul Forum: Moving the Needle in Charlotte and Beyond. We talked about the challenges facing us and the solutions that we can implement to help our community. 



Local panel: Where are we now and how are we moving the needle on economic mobility?

The panel of local experts included: Dr. Sharon Gaber, UNC Charlotte Chancellor; Dr. Byron P. White, UNC Charlotte Office of Urban Research and Community Engagement; Laura Clark, United Way of Central Carolinas; Tonya Jameson, Leading on Opportunity; Kacey Grantham, Road to Hire; W. Teddy McDaniel, III, Urban League of Central Carolinas, Inc.


Keynote Address: Dr. Andre Perry

A nationally known scholar, Andre Perry is a Senior Fellow with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, an author and a scholar-in-residence at American University. Perry recently published a new book, “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.”

From Brookings: "Perry’s recent scholarship at Brookings has analyzed Black-majority cities and institutions in America, focusing on valuable assets worthy of increased investment.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Perry has documented the underlying causes for the outsized number of coronavirus-related deaths in Black communities. Perry’s Brookings research has illuminated how certain forms of social distancing historically accelerated economic and social disparities between Black people and the rest of the country. Perry also mapped racial inequities in housing, income, and health to underscore how policy discrimination makes Black Americans more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Schul Conversations: Setting the table

In preparation for the 2021 Schul Forum, the Urban Institute is hosting a series of virtual panel discussions focused on economic mobility and related issues, such as health, transportation access and the racial wealth gap. 

View previous Schul Conversations

October: Workforce Development

October: The Racial Wealth Gap

August: Health disparities and economic mobility


May: Economic Mobility and Transportation

April: Housing and Economic Mobility in Charlotte

Previous Schul ForumS

You can view the program, keynote address and other materials from the 2019 Schul Forum at the link below: 

View the 2019 Schul Forum: The Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection project

The 2019 Schul Forum. Panelists Audrey Whetton, Brian Collier, Susan DeVenney and Chrystal Joy. Photo: Wade Bruton