Afternoon Observer | Charlotte YMCA gets biggest single gift in history + NC pauses J&J vaccine administration

Kristen Kornbluth
·4 min read

Good afternoon, Charlotte. This is Kristen. In case you missed it, my colleague Lauren Lindstrom reported a story last night about the latest in Charlotte affordable housing. In November, voters overwhelmingly approved another $50 million in bonds for building or preserving affordable housing. Now, 15 developments have been recommended for Housing Trust Fund money — including some long-awaited projects. Where could this process go in the future, and how could it shape the fabric of Charlotte? Learn more here with Lindstrom.

Now, let’s talk about today’s headlines:

1. Billionaire gives $18 million to Charlotte YMCA

YMCA of Greater Charlotte (the Dowd branch shown in this file photo) has decided how to spend its largest single donation in the nonprofits history $18 million from billionaire MacKenzie Scott.
YMCA of Greater Charlotte (the Dowd branch shown in this file photo) has decided how to spend its largest single donation in the nonprofits history $18 million from billionaire MacKenzie Scott.

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte received the largest single donation in its history – $18 million — from billionaire philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott. In December, Scott named the Charlotte Y as one of 384 organizations receiving a piece of more than $4.1 billion.

The nearly 150-year-old nonprofit plans to use the large sum to build health equity programs and youth and teen opportunity initiatives. The sum comes at an opportune time for the organization — the Y posted a revenue decline of $40 million during the pandemic, as reported by the Observer’s Catherine Muccigrosso.

“We knew we would need to be a different organization on the other side of the pandemic, with an evolved business model, and focused priorities,” the Y’s president and CEO Todd Tibbits said. “Scott’s gift allows us to put those plans in motion, and in a bigger way than we had originally anticipated.”

2. Today’s COVID need-to-know info

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a hot topic today after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for a temporary halt on administering doses. What does that mean for Charlotte? The Observer’s Hannah Smoot dives into it here.

More about COVID:

  • StarMed and Atrium Health are holding walk-in COVID vaccine clinics. No appointments are needed. Get more information with the Observer’s Anna Douglas.

  • Did you get the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine? Here’s what to do — and what you need to know.

Find all of our coronavirus coverage here.

3. Arts, cultural groups could receive millions under new plan

Brand New Sheriff Productions theater company has built a relationship with Arts and Science Council and worries what will happen to its funding if the city of Charlotte decides to create its own arts and culture advisory group to disperse the money instead of using ASC.
Brand New Sheriff Productions theater company has built a relationship with Arts and Science Council and worries what will happen to its funding if the city of Charlotte decides to create its own arts and culture advisory group to disperse the money instead of using ASC.

Under a new plan unveiled Tuesday, Charlotte’s arts and cultural groups would receive $12 million per year from public and private sectors. That’s a 50% hike from a previous proposal the City Council had been considering, as reported by the Observer’s Joe Marusak.

The breakdown of the plan:

  • It’s recommended that the city take over arts funding from the Arts & Science Council.

  • The city would give $6 million per year to the cause, while the private sector would match that amount.

  • The money would be administered by the Foundation for the Carolinas.

  • The city would hire an arts commissioner and assemble a board of advisers to manage the funds and develop a long-term plan for funding.

“This provides something for everyone,” said City Council member Julie Eiselt, who has been leading a committee studying the issue. “I think it’s great news. We got the private sector to step up with even more funding.”

4. Itching to do some home improvement?

Some great news today for home improvement enthusiasts, pro and amateur alike:

  • No need to drop a ton of money to purchase equipment: Shoppers can now rent lawn mowers and other tools at some Charlotte area Walmart stores, where Sunbelt Rentals is opening equipment rental stations.

  • Lowe’s is adding some amenities at stores to win over the pro customer. According to the Mooresville-based company, the upgrades, such as trailer parking, dedicated staff for pro shoppers and phone charging stations, were designed with convenience in mind.

Read more of our retail coverage here.

5. Hornets may be down 4 starters vs. Lakers tonight

The Hornets have lost their starting center and might not have their leading scorer for tonight’s home game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • Center-forward P.J. Washington was downgraded from probable to play to out. He sprained his right ankle during Sunday’s game against Atlanta.

  • Leading scorer Terry Rozier was listed as doubtful to play. His injury, left knee tendinitis, isn’t too serious — but the team is playing a demanding three games in four nights.

The Hornets are already missing starters LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and key reserve Malik Monk. Learn more about the Hornets’ current situation here with the Observer’s Rick Bonnell.

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