Movement Schools is tackling educational inequality with help from an ex-Carolina Panther

How can we help more families break the cycle of poverty? And how can we do it in a sustainable, accessible and scalable way? 

Those were the questions former NFL tight end and Super Bowl champion Casey Crawford pondered as he retired from football, began building a business, and looked for ways to spark positive change in his adopted hometown of Charlotte, N.C.









Movement School is a groundbreaking cooperative between the Movement Foundation, Sugar Creek Charter School and the state of North Carolina. The result has been a new tuition-free public charter school that opened in 2017 for 300 students in West Charlotte. Crawford’s Movement Foundation invested $12 million in startup costs for the school, the academic program was developed from Sugar Creek Charter’s award-winning example, and a North Carolina public school charter is now assuring a tuition-free, state-sanctioned education.

About 75 percent of Movement’s students are from economically underserved areas, compared to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg average of about 45 percent. Movement Schools is helping to break the generational cycle of poverty by combining rigorous academics with character enrichment, and recruiting and retaining highly qualified faculty and staff as part of a holistic approach to education.

When asked what makes Movement’s approach unique for other education models in Charlotte, Tim Hurley, Executive Director of Movement Foundation, had the following to say: 

  1. Movement builds amazing schools available to all students, emphasizes academics and virtue, and believes in the inherent value and dignity of all children.
  2. Each Movement School will open as part of a larger, holistic investment focused on building neighborhoods and communities where children and families thrive. These broader investments include affordable housing, houses of worship, early-childhood education, faith-based and secular after-school programing, medical clinics and wellness centers, and community co-working spaces.

Hurley said, in their first year, Movement experienced numerous student, parent and teacher successes. Some of the school-wide highlights include:

  • Reading proficiency increased from 12 percent to 59 percent in one academic year.
  • Math proficiency improved from 45 percent to 61 percent in one academic year.
  • Parents rated the school 5.5 on a 6-point scale for overall satisfaction.
  • Teacher retention from the first school year to the second was 100 percent.
  • Teacher satisfaction survey results exceeded local, state and national averages.
  • Movement became the only new charter school in Charlotte to exceed enrollment projections in 2017.
  • Reported an operating budget surplus in its first full year of operation.
  • Received more than 500 student applications for 130 openings in 2018-2019 school year.

Edgility is leading Movement’s search for their first-ever Chief Academic Officer. When asked what Movement is looking for in this leader, Hurley said, “The CAO role is pivotal as we continue to think strategically about our own growth as a network. We want another leader at the table who can truly understand where we are as an organization, and where we want to be academically. This leader will have the opportunity to create and implement what it means to represent the “Movement Way” for our principals. The impact this person will have on our organization will be both immediate and long-lasting.” 

When asked, what else the world should know about Movement Schools? Hurley said, “Movement would love for folks to take a virtual tour of our spaces. You can do so here. We are so proud and want to share that excitement with you.”