What is CHARP?

The Charlotte Action Research Project (CHARP) forges partnerships between the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and marginalized communities in Charlotte. We take our starting point in recognizing a neighborhood’s assets. We consistently and proactively seek to integrate teaching, research, and action to work towards a larger agenda of social justice, enable neighborhoods to advocate for themselves, and create sustainable neighborhood coalitions to implement structural change.

CHARP was founded by Dr. Janni Sorensen of UNC Charlotte’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences in 2008. CHARP began as a community-university partnership where UNC Charlotte graduate and undergraduate students worked with local neighborhood associations.

In 2009, CHARP partnered with the City of Charlotte’s Neighborhood and Business Services division. As a result of this partnership, Dr. Sorensen was able to hire graduate students to work as community liaisons. Since then, the project has expanded and now funds four graduate researchers. CHARP has received more than $165,000 in grants from a variety of sources such as the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Foundation for the Carolinas, and City of Charlotte grants. CHARP has engaged in past and ongoing partnerships with Crossroads Charlotte, Americorps VISTA, the Urban Institute, MAPPR, and a variety of service providers throughout Charlotte.

CHARP is now funded by UNC Charlotte’s Metropolitan Studies & Extended Academic Programs and is currently working with our neighborhood partners around creating service-learning opportunities, engaging in action research, and connecting campus partners to our neighborhood partners.

CHARP is based on the principles of Participatory Action Research, which means, briefly, that neighborhood residents work in partnership with university representatives. Residents identify and prioritize specific tasks to address and, in exchange for access to local knowledge, campus partners work on these projects. Many of the projects we complete at CHARP are highly tangible; examples include community clean-ups, youth outreach events, and National Night Out celebrations.

It is our intention to consistently and proactively seek out ways to integrate teaching, research, and action to work toward a larger agenda of social justice at the neighborhood level.

If you are interested in learning more about the Charlotte Action Research Project and our objectives, please feel free to contact us at uncc.charp@gmail.com.