Minority owned businesses help guard college grads

The economic downfall of the coronavirus crisis has been felt by millions of college students.

Jonathan Gardner, executive director of GardHouse, said the impact has been a detrimental challenge for students in Charlotte, particularly minority students.

His organization works to increase employment opportunities for undergraduates of color by implementing work-based programs with minority-owned businesses.

“Charlotte college students of color have been at an employment disadvantage for over 50 years, and GardHouse is committed to being a part of the change,” Gardner said.

Glassdoor reported a 52% drop in internship opportunities on its website from March 9 to April 13 -- a percentage that is likely to continue to rise as the job market uncertainty continues to loom.

“We had to delay many internships until the fall, leaving students without a structured summer internship program to be developed in,” Gardner said.

Adhering to social distancing guidelines, GardHouse adjusted its programming operations to meet the needs and safety of its students.

In June, the organization will launch its Summer at GardHouse program that will connect students with short-term paid projects for minority-owned businesses in need of workforce assistance.

The concept of the program is twofold for Gardner.

“While students are receiving work-based experience, businesses receive assistance with regular operations at a reduced cost through each student’s efforts,” Gardner said.

While gaining on-the-job training and personal development experience, students can earn up to $150 per project.

This week, GardHouse received a $10,000 grant from Wells Fargo to assist Charlotte small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic through the summer program.

“We are all in this together,” Gardner said. “And working together is the only way we can move forward during these times.”

I am honored to announce that Wells Fargo has awarded GardHouse a $10,000 grant to assist Charlotte's small businesses...

Posted by GardHouse on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

On May 19 at 7 p.m., the organization will hold its first virtual fundraiser to benefit Charlotte college students of color and minority-owned businesses.

During the family-dinner style fundraiser, attendees will learn more about GardHouse’s programs and initiatives and see a live performance from Charlotte’s DJ Fannie Mae.

Something Classic Catering will also prepare and deliver meals for the event.

For more information about GardHouse’s fundraiser, visit the GardHouse website.

Minority-owned businesses looking to submit short-term projects for the Summer at GardHouse program - can submit requests here.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Sinead Taylor, WSOC-TV community affairs specialist, at Sinead.Taylor@wsoc-tv.com.