$23 million from Marianne Cheek Mebane’s family to UNC Charlotte College of Education

The UNC Charlotte College of Education has landed a five-year grant of up to $23 million to support literacy education.

The Mebane Foundation is based in Mocksville and aims to promote collaborations and partnerships to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their highest potential. It has chosen UNCC’s Cato College to help continue its legacy of supporting innovation in literacy education in North Carolina and beyond.

The funds, part of one of the largest gifts in school history, will support PreK-5 literacy education through the Mebane Early Literacy Center.

UNCC says the decision follows a competitive statewide search to identify a partner to continue to carry on founder Allen Mebane’s commitment as the foundation winds down operations over the next decade.

“We are grateful the Mebane Foundation selected UNC Charlotte as its long-standing partner,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber, who announced the gift in a message to campus.

“This transformational investment will take Charlotte’s highly rated literacy programming and clinical experiences and move our teacher candidates to the next level. The Mebane name will continue as a gold standard for teacher readiness, assuring Mr. Mebane’s vision is realized. Together, we will create a better future for North Carolina.”

Over the past 25 years, the foundation has granted more than $25 million to educational program partners across the state. In 2019, it invested in UNCC’s research-based summer reading camps.

Through the free summer camps, elementary school students from across the Charlotte region have access to a place where they can learn to read. They are also a setting for teachers-in-training to apply new educational techniques and skills learned at the university.

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More recently, the foundation provided additional support to develop Project Enrich, which provides evidence-based tutoring year round to elementary school students who underperform in reading.

The foundation will increase its funding to Cato College over the next five years in support of teacher development, community partnerships, and research and innovation. It is expected the gift will then culminate in the Allen Mebane: Leaving a Legacy for Future Generations endowment to create and fund the Mebane Early Literacy Center into perpetuity.

Marianne Cheek Mebane, Chairperson, Mebane Foundation Board of Directors is a trustee with The North Carolina Museum of Art, and she is a member of the NYU Medical Center Chairman’s Circle Advisory Board and is on the board of the Animal Medical Center. Mrs. Mebane is a member of Christ Church, New York. She is a graduate of Averett University. She describes the mission of family’s foundation as: “Our Foundation has had the goal of improving the education of children since its beginning, and I feel that we are successfully engaged in accomplishing this.”


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