Partner Agency Spotlight: Reaching for the Stars Tutoring Program

Dee Camm is the President and co-founder of The Sky Is the Limit Community Development Corporation. Both Camm and her co-founder, Emanju Zinnah, were working for the City of Charlotte when they created The Sky Is the Limit CDC. Since, furthering education is the goal of the corporation, Camm remarked, “We knew that we wanted to provide high quality tutoring services to the at-risk community free of charge.” The Sky Is the Limit CDC has created a mentoring program, a free tutoring program at two locations, as well as a North Carolina AAU divisional football and cheerleading league.


Dee Camm

Camm explains the mission of The Sky Is the Limit below.

“The Next Generation Mentoring Program connects professional men and women with at risk boys and girls. The mentor provides guidance, career advice, support, and encouragement throughout the duration of the mentoring relationship. The children within this program come from neighborhoods that have a high concentration of violence, teen pregnancy, and high school dropouts.

The Reaching for the Stars Tutoring Program takes place at two free tutoring locations here in Charlotte, NC. The locations were strategically placed in neighborhoods that have a significant amount of at-risk youth. The free tutoring services are provided to grades K – 9 throughout the entire academic year.

For the 2016 academic school year, Reaching for the Stars received a laptop based literacy grant through Habitat for Humanity. The literacy software provides each child with a customizable learning experience based on their current literacy level and learning style.”

Study Buddies West Blvd 2

HOC Volunteer with Reaching for the Stars student

In the early days of The Sky Is the Limit, Camm and her team had already gathered educational resources, such as a laptop-based literacy program and EOG prep curriculum, but what they really needed were volunteers. Thankfully, there was another nonprofit waiting to partner with and support Camm’s fledgling organization. Hands On Charlotte specializes in volunteer recruitment and management for other nonprofits. Camm remarked, “We were in desperate need of volunteers who not only had a desire to make a difference in the community but that also cared about the future of children. After meeting with Doug, the Director of Programs, we immediately knew that Hands On Charlotte was the missing piece to our Charlotte mission.”

Camm is pleased with the work her organization and HOC have accomplished together. “The Hands On Charlotte staff (Doug in particular) is very supportive of our goals, mission, and the overall success of the tutoring program. They have invited me to orientation sessions to allow me to directly recruit volunteers and they always keep the lines of communication open. The volunteers for Study Buddies at West Blvd Library are friendly, professional, and helpful.”

The Sky Is the Limit CDC aims to provide volunteers with the opportunity to make a difference in a community that is in desperate need of their assistance while also having fun. When asked what she wants volunteers to take away from the experience, Camm replied “I want the volunteers to walk away knowing that they made a difference in a child’s academic future. I want them to know that their hours of volunteer work have decreased the dropout rate of an at-risk youth.”

Study Buddies - West Blvd

Reaching for the Stars student with HOC tutor

Camm thinks the best part of her job is making a difference in someone’s life daily, such as hearing reports from parents about their child’s increase in academic and behavioral performance. “Helping people is my calling in life. It’s what I was placed on this earth to accomplish. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you are operating from a higher calling. Attending a graduation, watching a child go from failing to honor roll, putting a smile on the face of those in need…there is no greater feeling than that.”

  • Breannon Wills is an aspiring author and creative enthusiast who hopes to one day start a creative children’s non-profit organization.

Emily’s Story – Uplifting Children, Youth Tutoring returns Sept. 12!

Twenty-five year old Emily McGrane, an Email Marketing Specialist at Direct Digital volunteers with Hands On Charlotte because she has always been interested in helping others. She found HOC through a Google search.

Emily has been volunteering for the Homework Hounds project for over the past three years tutoring elementary and middle school students. The project takes place at Beatties Ford Road Library. She has volunteered over 86.5 hours with Homework Hounds and is now a Volunteer Leader for the project.  When I asked her why she choose the project she responded “I love kids and that is the first project I went to after orientation. I loved it so much I just stuck with it.”

Emily McGraneEmily McGrane

“I love the kids who come to this project in particular because they’re all so sweet and have a genuine curiosity about everything and a desire to learn” Emily replied when asked why she enjoyed volunteering with children. Emily wants to brighten a child’s life and make that child’s self-esteem grow. She is dedicated to this project and enjoys being a part of it. She thinks HOC has done a good job making this project is available at various libraries throughout Charlotte which is convenient for volunteers.

In Emily’s own passionate words about why people should volunteer “The kids at this project are the sweetest kids ever. They genuinely WANT to learn but they have many roadblocks. Some of the children have parents who don’t speak English. Other kids can’t afford school supplies or have dropped out of school and are looking to come back. You definitely see a little bit of everything at this project. Something that I really enjoy is that the majority of kids during the 2015-2016 school year came every week so you really got to build a personal relationship. There’s a girl who has been coming to the project every week for the past three years. This year, she made the honor roll for the first time and her dad was teary he was so proud. The parents who bring their kids to tutoring are really good, involved parents so it’s also a pleasure getting to know them as well.” 

Emily wants the kids that come to her project to learn and grow as individuals. She wants them to take away a sense of comfort from Homework Hounds. She feels good about helping but also feels sad when she thinks about how much more there still is to do. She wants more people to volunteer in order to make a positive difference in the lives of children. Children are the future and by her compassionate volunteer work she is helping the whole community. She would recommend HOC because it has been a great way for her to volunteer. “Doug does a great job training everyone and making sure that everyone feels comfortable. I’ve also met some great friends along the way,” Emily explained. Emily is another example of how volunteering can impact our lives positively. She uplifts the children by helping them learn but in return is uplifted.

  • Breannon Wills an Aspiring Author and Creative Enthusiast, who hopes to one day start a creative children’s non-profit organization



Make a Difference Day & Service Juris Day photos

Last weekend, Hands On Charlotte held service projects for Make a Difference Day (for youth and families) and Service Juris Day (for members of the law community). Click the links to find out more about these projects and check out the photos from the events below.

The first six photos are from Make a Difference Day at Classroom Central and the next six are from Service Juris Day at the Friendship Trays garden at the correctional facility:



Don’t forget to save the date of our next special event, the MLK Week of Service Jan. 14-20. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks on the blog!


Why should you care?

So, you’ve signed up for orientation and your background check has been completed. You are ready to volunteer here at Hands on Charlotte or you’ve been to the Website but haven’t become a regular member just yet.

Volunteering with Hands on Charlotte is more than one or two events or a few activities. Volunteering at Hands on Charlotte is an experience. Not only do you make a difference in your community, but you also meet great people, make lasting friendships, and generally better your world.

For example, I have been to Clothe Your Neighbor at Crises Assistance Ministry. At Clothe Your Neighbor, we simply hung up clothes on racks — but was it just hanging up clothes? No, it was more than that because the free store that we were hanging up clothes for serves low income people in Charlotte who do not have nice clothes otherwise or who may need clothes for job interviews, etc. and cannot necessarily afford to buy them. So, by the simple act of hanging up clothes we are helping scores of low-income people in Charlotte by making an impact and improving their lives.

Also, I recently attended GED/ABE tutoring at Central Piedmont Community College where I helped a student with his English homework. I have taught before and it is great when you see the light bulb go off in someone’s head because they understand what you are teaching. The student I was tutoring was smart, but he just needed confidence and an understanding of study skills. Just from the one session I had with him, I have high hopes that the student will go on to passing his tests, get his GED and be able to be more productive in society.

This is the impact you will have if you join Hands on Charlotte. You can make a difference.

So, if you still haven’t signed up for Make A Difference Day, you still have time. Sign up with friends and family today. If you can’t make it, our regular calendar projects throughout the week are ready for you too.

Hands on Charlotte wants to impact lives and improve the community, not only to help people but also to empower people. At Hands on Charlotte, everyone can do their part and join the Hands on Charlotte experience. I can promise you the Hands on Charlotte experience will change you.

Tarik Kiley