A Nonprofit Summer at the Harvey B. Gantt Center – Tashawna Wilkins ’26

Categories: Blog

For my nonprofit summer of 2023, I interned at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, formerly known as the Afro-American Cultural Center. The Gantt Center’s main goal is to preserve and promote African-American culture through art and community outreach. For historical context, it is important to note that  the Gantt Center is located on Brooklyn Village Avenue in Uptown Charlotte. Brooklyn Village Avenue is named after the Brooklyn neighborhood, which was a predominantly Black community in Charlotte before urban renewal. The staff at the Gantt Center work incredibly hard to ensure the Gantt Center remains a staple in the Charlotte community through their preservation and education efforts.

Although I only interned at the Gantt Center for a month, I gained many valuable experiences and opportunities. My work focused on public programming, more specifically educational initiatives. The Educational Initiatives Manager, Nicole Beverly, tasked me with planning a program called Family First. This program is held on the first Saturday of the month and aims to provide arts education to Charlotte children and their families for little to no cost. To begin to plan these programs, I researched past Family First events at the Gantt and other family programs at other institutions. Then I compiled a list of possible art projects of all mediums and potential Charlotte artists that could lead the events. After consulting with the team, I began contacting artists and planning out the events in more detail. Through this process, I learned how to navigate the intricacies of planning multiple events and collaborating with others to achieve success. Through interacting with staff and weekly meetings, I was able to learn how all the different parts of a nonprofit organization come together to run a successful business.

During my internship, I was able to sit down with every staff member and ask them any questions I had for them. From these meetings, I received great advice from the staff on how to navigate my career journey. It was inspiring to hear everyone’s stories and to learn more about how they ended up working at the Gantt Center. I learned that there is always an opportunity to further your knowledge and transition into another career path. I also learned the importance of putting yourself out there and being open to new opportunities and challenges. The staff were incredibly helpful and forthcoming about their journeys.

As my summer internship wrapped up, I knew that I wanted to continue to work at the Gantt Center in some capacity. Because the Gantt Center appreciated the work I did for them during my nonprofit internship, they were also open to this idea. As a result, I worked with the Gantt center staff to create a fall 2023 internship position for myself that was curated to my strengths and ideas. With this position, I dive deeper into the work I started during my nonprofit internship and help conduct research with a professor from the University of South Carolina from a grant that the Gantt Center was awarded. Through this research, I get to observe the Gantt Center from a more in-depth lens and get a better understanding of the Gantt Center as an institution. Using ethnography, I take field notes on my position as a public programs intern and different facets of how the Gantt Center functions. The goal of this project is to provide the Gantt with a report and a creative presentation to help the institution advance its organizational well-being.

Overall, I had an amazing experience interning at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. I got to see amazing art, but also plan events that directly touch the Charlotte community. The staff were extremely welcoming and supported me in any way that I needed. After my time at the Gantt, I realized that I love nonprofit work and would love to pursue it as a career in the future. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that the Gantt Center has provided to me.