Jonathan Gardner, founder and executive director of Charlotte-based nonprofit GardHouse, has been named as one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” for his impact on education. Since establishing the organization in 2019, Gardner has collaborated with over 180 Charlotte-area small businesses and nonprofits to provide paid internships for underserved college students.
“I’m honored to be included on this list with other young leaders,” Gardner said. “I don’t do this work for the recognition. I speak from personal experience of once being a college student searching for opportunities to help me navigate my career goals.”
Each year, Forbes releases the list highlighting the careers and accomplishments of 600 individuals across several categories. Gardner, an education honoree, is among the elite business and community leaders credited with “bringing access and opportunity to the classroom and beyond.”
Gardner raised $840,000 in start-up funds from donors such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and United Way of Greater Charlotte to launch GardHouse and develop college students of color for employment. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit reported record success, including 100% of its graduating seniors being offered employment or acceptance into graduate education programs in 2021. GardHouse welcomed its largest cohort of college interns into its pipeline last fall – where students earn roughly $20 an hour during internships – and launched a fund to provide student debt relief for its college seniors upon graduation.
“We’re committed to addressing barriers to economic mobility and bridging the gap for these students,” Gardner added. “The biggest takeaway is seeing the benefits of seeds that were planted years ago. It’s motivation to keep working toward something that is bigger than myself.”