My family has always been a big supporter of public education.

When my dad served on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education in the early 1970s, he stood for the right for all Charlotteans to have the opportunity to get a quality education. He walked his talk by putting me and my brother and sisters on a public school bus each morning.

My mom, who served as Charlotte’s first female planning commission chair, also believed in the power that education can create. She was a “first-gen” college grad. She tells the story of when she walked into the bank for a college loan, the bank President commented that she was “too pretty” to go to college. He told her that she should stay in Jackson AL and marry a nice boy!

Last week, I watched as my parents, Peggy and Bob Culbertson, committed $1 million to Central Piedmont Community College for scholarships. The college will use the gift to assist students in the new 49erNext program.

49erNext is a co-admission program and seamless pathway for students who start their degree at CPCC and complete their degree at UNC Charlotte.

As I said at the press conference held by the schools, my family is big on upward mobility and believes education is absolutely the best answer.

A pilot class of 111 students opened the 49erNext program in August. This past year, about 4,000 transfer students enrolled at UNC Charlotte—69 percent came from a North Carolina community college, and 29 percent of those came from Central Piedmont.

We know from experience that the money will be used wisely. Both UNCC and CPCC are proven stewards of public money. I’m familiar with UNCC through my work as a board member for UNCC’s Childress Klein Center for Real Estate. I’ve witnessed first-hand the excellent training and education that the real estate students receive, and I have been fortunate to work with many of them after they finished their schooling.

My family is honored to support these bastions of higher learning, and I hope others will be inspired to see how they, too, can support tomorrow’s leaders.

Visit here to learn more about the 49erNext Program, or learn about the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate to see how you can get involved.