The Movement School ushers in a new kind of corporate giving

The Movement School ushers in a new kind of corporate giving
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If there’s one thing that Movement Mortgage does well, it’s replicating experiences.

Over the Indian Land-based company’s decade-long history, it’s grown to 4,000 employees across more than 600 offices. Movement has trained loan officers in 47 states on its way to becoming one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies.

Now Movement is taking a similar entrepreneurial approach in its philanthropy.

On Wednesday, students will walk through the doors of an old K-Mart building on Freedom Drive for the first day of classes at the Movement School, a new public charter school.


The school’s development was underwritten by Movement’s philanthropic arm, the Movement Foundation. And it seeks to replicate the success of Sugar Creek Charter, a north Charlotte school with a long history of serving low-income and minority students. The school regularly has a 500-child wait list.

For Movement CEO Casey Crawford, seeing the success of Sugar Creek raised obvious questions in a city where there are still many underperforming schools.

“We raise money very effectively,” he said, referring to Charlotte as a community. “Why is nobody stepping up for this?”

The model is as simple as it is innovative.

Movement laid out $12 million to buy the property and turn it into a colorful and whimsical schoolhouse serving grades K-2. It will grow by a grade level each year until it’s a full elementary school.

They’ve also brought over four teachers from Sugar Creek Charter to be grade-level leaders and an administrator to instill the culture. Cheryl Turner, the revered director at Sugar Creek, sits on the Movement School’s board.

As a public charter, it will receive money from the state for each student enrolled — 305 in its first year. That will be enough to fund the school’s operations, creating a sustainable model that won’t require Movement to kick in major sums of money each year.

There are a lot of big companies in Charlotte that do a lot of good work. The city’s five largest charitable foundations donated a combined $655 million over the course of a year, according to data compiled by the Charlotte Business Journal.

But there’s something compelling about a young company applying the start-up, entrepreneurial ethos to a civic problem. Crawford saw that there was a need for more schools with a model to prepare low-income students to complete college. So the company went out and started one.

Over the years, the business community at large has shifted from stroking checks to strategizing giving to create a deeper impact and investing employee time as well.

The Movement School could provide a model for the Charlotte corporate community to take it one step further. For Movement, the charter school made sense based on the company’s strengths.

“I would love to see more companies think about how they’re particularly gifted and use that to better the community,” Crawford said.

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