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Dottie Rose Foundation set to open new Charlotte HQ, providing … – The Business Journals

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For these Charlotte-native leaders, it was meant to be. Dunbar Street, which was formerly known as the “Street of Roses,” seemed like fate for the Dottie Rose Foundation’s official home.
Sharon Jones, founder of the organization, and Jillian Klingberg, executive director, said the foundation’s new Charlotte headquarters will open this spring at 217 W. Dunbar St. as a creative hub to prepare girls for tech fields.
The Dottie Rose Foundation, founded in 2018, is a nonprofit created to provide technology and computer science education for middle- and high school-aged girls. Dottie Rose’s new headquarters, the “Dunbar House,” will serve as a place for tech workshops, creating binary bling, gaming education and more innovative resources to inspire the next female generation.
“Our goal is to change that conversation and open the opportunities and doors for young women in the field of technology,” Jones said. “As we have grown and been able to serve more girls, we really decided we needed a space to call our own.”
When Jones first discovered the property on Dunbar Street in 2021, she didn’t know the correlating history behind it. The house was built in 1917 and its original owners were both educators. Jones herself spent more than two decades as a computer science teacher. The property also housed one of the first Black-owned convenience stores in Charlotte, Garrett’s Community Store. It was one of several houses built in the 1900s in what was formerly a predominantly Black community.
“I stumbled across this house, and it had been on the market for a long time,” she said. “There was just something about it. I was like, Oh, that’s it. That’s us.”
The Dottie Rose Foundation bought the home in May 2021 and officially started renovations in January 2022. The organization is at the finish line of completely restoring the home and opening it to the public in the spring. The project was funded through corporate and individual sponsors, donations and substantial community outreach.
Since 2018, the Dottie Rose Foundation has served about 759 girls, Klingberg said. The organization aims to triple the number of participants in their summer camps this year to expand its impact, she added. Dottie Rose’s camps are a blend of robotics, game and web development, coding, art and all things technology taught by education experts.
“The one thing that’s really, really amazing about what has happened during the past five years, is that when the girls come to one of our camps or workshops or programs, they come back,” Jones said. “And that impact is huge because that is where you see the mindset starting to change.”
The foundation also implemented its first year-long high school program for girls. Once they finish the program, participants have the opportunity to come back and intern with the foundation. Dottie Rose additionally provides recommendations for college internships, other resources for young women to explore the tech field and further networking.
Jones said in the fall, the organization will also assist girls with applying to the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is a series of conferences to bring the research and career interests of women to the forefront.
In addition to Dottie Rose’s new headquarters, the foundation will continue to go out and engage with the community through workshops and camps within other businesses. The Dunbar House will also host meetings, community events and global virtual events as well as provide rental opportunities to other local businesses and organizations.
Klingberg, who helps organize projects and activities for the girls, said down the line, the foundation is looking to make Greenville, South Carolina, its second tech hub. In the summer, she said the foundation will expand to Cabarrus County to work in schools in that area and offer summer camps there as well.
Jones said the Dunbar House was the foundation’s next step in setting roots for its ongoing mission.
“It is a space where they feel safe, and they can come and learn and be challenged and grow and fail. And it has that feeling,” she said. “I want it to feel that emotional joy that comes with learning and being successful and growing in your academic ability, but then also finding others that love to do what you do.”
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