March 20, 2020


Support will provide mobile hotspots for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students  


Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, the John M. Belk Endowment, and the David Belk Cannon Foundation announced a $1 million gift to the CMS Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.  The gift will be used to purchase six thousand mobile hotspots with six months of prepaid internet services for students without access to home connectivity. 

The David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation made a gift of $650,000. The John M. Belk Endowment contributed $250,000 and the David Belk Cannon Foundation contributed $100,000. 

The CMS Foundation launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund on Monday to meet the critical needs of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ students and families while schools are closed due to the coronavirus. Ensuring students had internet connectivity to access online learning opportunities was identified as an immediate need. The CMS Foundation partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and local nonprofit Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D) to secure a deal for the mobile hotspots and prepaid service.

“Today’s gift is an inspiring example of what can happen when groups come together. We know that this gift and every single donation from our community will help us address critical needs in our school district at this unprecedented time,” said CMS Foundation Executive Director Sonja Gantt.

Charlotte-Mecklenurg Schools serves more than 148,000 students and is the second largest district in North Carolina. The district allowed students in fourth through twelfth grade to take home the laptops they use in school.

“We all understand that internet access is no longer a luxury. It is essential. This gift addresses an equity issue in our community, and I am truly grateful to these three organizations for leading the way in this time of crisis and helping us meet this need. Their generosity will have a meaningful impact on our students,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will manage distribution of hotspots to families. The first shipment is expected next week. The district plans to prioritize delivery of devices to students without stable housing. The district will share additional information on distribution with families next week.

The CMS Foundation is the nonprofit partner for CMS. In this role, the foundation raises money to support the district’s highest strategic priorities and increase opportunities for its students and educators.

Additional contributions to the foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund will help meet other critical needs for CMS students and families as response tactics are developed. Information about the fund is available on the foundation’s website at cms-foundation.org/relief.  Donations can be made online through the website with “Relief” in the notes section of the donation page. Contributions can also be sent by mail to

CMS Foundation | 4421 Stuart Andrew Boulevard, Suite 100 | Charlotte, NC 28217

 Donors may contact the CMS Foundation for additional information at 980-343-0399 or email info@cms-foundation.org.