Karen Calder

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Location: Charlotte, NC
Founded: 2002
Industry: Nonprofit

Karen Calder
Executive Director

Classroom Central

Classroom Central provides free school supplies and other resources to students living in poverty. Since opening in 2002, the organization has distributed free materials to students in six school districts. “Studies show that children living in poverty are twice as likely to repeat a grade, to be expelled or suspended or to drop out of school,” says Karen Calder, executive director of Classroom Central. “By equipping students with the tools they need to succeed in school, Classroom Central gives the gift of hope for a brighter future to local at-risk students.”

Since its opening, Classroom Central has provided supplies to more than 100,000 students and has quadrupled the size of its operating budget. “Our greatest accomplishment is the impact that we are making on area students,” says Calder. Based on survey data Classroom Central has collected, 95 percent of teachers report that the nonprofit has a positive influence on student preparation, and 88 percent report a positive impact on the timeliness and completion rates of assignments.

Fun Fact: Classroom Central has provided more than $42 million in free school supplies.

For the past two years, Calder has served as a volunteer mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She has volunteered for a number of other nonprofits, such as Room in the Inn and Habitat for Humanity.