The Urban Education Collaborative, UNC Charlotte
Center Director
Chance W. Lewis, Ph.D.
The Urban Education Collaborative at UNC Charlotte will be a national model of excellence for partnering with urban schools, community organizations and the business community to improve economic, educational opportunities and the quality of life for our nation’s urban students.

To advance the intellectual, social, economic and educational conditions of urban students in the state of North Carolina and the nation through knowledge dissemination, innovative programming and strategic partnerships.

Instructor Biography
Brian K. Williams, a Durham native, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Upon graduation, he was recruited by the Teach for America organization and taught 7th grade language arts in Charlotte, North Carolina. In May 2012, he received a Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus in Middle Grades Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Immediately after attaining his master’s degree, he began UNC Charlotte’s Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. program with a concentration in Urban Literacy. As the instructor of the Beyond the Bricks Community Producers program at UNC Charlotte, he plans on guiding young black men to be model citizens and future leaders of this great nation.

Community Producers


William Perkins, Phillip O. Berry High School

William would describe himself as a good student. He loves football and takes a lot of pride in his athletic abilities. Outside of school he enjoys shopping, playing sports, attending church, and spending time with his girlfriend. 

Nathan Jones, Vance High School

Nathan aspires to be a motivational speaker. As a learner, he strives to do everthing to the best of his ability and will try any task presented to him. Outside of school, he enjoys playing basketball, a sport he prides himself in because of his athletic abilities. Nathan sees himself as a leader and feels that he has a lot to offer his community. 

Khalil Thrower, Vance High School

Khalil would describe himself as a strong leader that likes to motivate his team. His career aspiration is to become a successful web-designer. He would like to be a positive model for the youth and teach them through his own experiences. 

Wesley Miles, Cato Middle College High School

Wesley loves to learn, especially about film and sound engineering. He plans on becoming a film director and video production company owner when he completes school. His philosophy is that people should strive for happiness, not money. He believes that everyone should focus their career goals around their passion.

Tevon Powell, Crossroads Charter High School

Tevon wishes to increase his knowledge in media production through the Beyond the Bricks Program. One day he would love to produce beats for various artists and create background music for television commercials. Tevon considers himself a strong leader and would love to continue trying to lead others in a positive direction. 

Week of February 18th

The class is beginning to establish individual long term goals. Each student has to create a plan for achieving their goal. Tevon created a message for the class to emphasize the importance of planning and goal setting.

"If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. If you don't plan for the future, you won't be ready for it either. Of course you have to live life in the present, but that's when you need to put in work so life can be different, or more how you would like it. You can live life like you dream, get what you want, and be independent! You must have goals in life, short-term goals, and long-term goals."

Below are the career aspirations of each community producer: 

Nathan Jones- Counselor

William Perkins- Engineer

Khalil Thrower- Web Designer

Tevon Powell- Music Producer

Wesley Miles- Film Director

The students completed an activity where I gave them four scenarios in which a person handled a given situation completely wrong and they had to figure out:

What was done wrong in the situation?

How did the situation portray the young black male?

How should the situation have been handled?

The students were terrific at identifying the problems and communicating alternative approaches to each situation. However, students expressed that handling many situations in the most appropriate way is easier said than done. We discussed, in those situations, taking a step back and thinking of the possible consequences. A few students added that one bad mistake could potentially ruin one's success in life. Conversations within the class were very authentic and came from a place of honesty.

The week was concluded with the students completing their "Where I'm From" poems.  Videos of the poems will be posted soon.

Week of February 25th

The students presented their "Where I'm From" poems and discussed the major issues within their communities. The students communicated that the following problems plagued their communities. 

1. Breaking and Entering

2. Gangs

3. Drug Usage

4. Drug Dealing

5. Littering

6. Violence

7. Loitering

Students were prompted with the question:

Does "where you're from" define who you are and determine how successful you will be in the future?

All of the students confidently replied, NO! Tevon Powell added, "You are the controller of yourself. Bad is always going to be around you, but it is up to you to make the right decisions. You have to distance yourself from the friends that aren't doing anything positive with their lives."

Students are in the process of working with the iMovie program to construct their "Where I'm From" videos. 

William Perkins constructing the video for his "Where I'm From" poem.

Khalil Thrower creating his "Where I'm From" poem video.

Khalil Thrower reviewing his video to make sure everything is just right for viewers. 


Week of March 4th (SRING BREAK)


Week of March 11th

This week students completed their "Where I'm From" poem videos. This was a great experience for the students because they were able to reflect on their own lives, learn more about media production, and engage in fellowship with their peers. More importantly, students were able to think about where they want to go in life. Although the experiences of each student are very different, everyone shares the common goal of becoming successful productive citizens of our nation.

Khalil Thrower is steady at work. He is focused on creating "his story" for the world to hear and understand. Although not perfect, Khalil will ensure that one day he will be someone that kids of all ages can look up to.

Wesley Miles is constantly thinking of innovative ways to improve his craft. He wants people to enjoy the many aspects of his videos. You don't just view Wesley's videos, you experience them.

Khalil Thrower overlooks the Charlotte skyline. He knows that with focus and determination the possibilities are endless for him and his future.

Week of March 18th


This week the students viewed the Beyond the Bricks movie. Some students were able to connect to the young men in the video and some students found no relationship. However, all students were inspired in some way by the experiences of the young men.

When asked, "Can you connect to any of the boys in the Beyond the Bricks video?" Wesley replied, "Unfortunately, no, but for that reason it is important that I see this video and talk with some of the other guys in this program so I know how lucky I am and not to waste the opportunity I have to succeed, and remember to give back".

The class agreed with the young men that schools should learn how to build better relationships with their students. If you know a student's struggles, you can better help them achieve. In addition, students agreed that teachers should provide incentives so that students can become more engaged and invested in their learning.

The video created great discussion and students were able to enhance their perspective on education given the experiences of their peers.


Week of April 8th


This week students watched the "I am Sean Bell" video. The students were shocked by the actions of law enforcement. They then expressed that this is the reason why gangs form and they can't fault neighborhood residents for membership. Everyone wants to be safe in their neighborhood and gangs provide that security when city authorities can't be trusted.

I posed the question:

How can we change unjust behaviors by superior members of our communities? (Police, Teachers, etc.)

The students responded that it is up to us to change our day to day living so that we are not looked at in a bad light. This change will allow unjust behaviors to decrease because we will not be marked by stereotypes and superior members will not have any reason to believe that we (African American Men)  are doing anything wrong.

The class then watched a clip from the movie Boyz N The Hood in which two young men are being harassed by law enforcement for absolutely no reason. I posed the question:

Is the portrayal of law enforcement in this light a great way to draw awareness to the issue of bad cops in America?

The students responded by saying that this is a terrible way of drawing awareness. Showing these type of scenes in movies just powers the cycle of African Americans hating law enforcement when in all actuality all law enforcement aren't bad. Just like the stereotype that all African American men are bad, not true. 


Week of April 15th


Khalil admires art in the UNCC Center City building. He loves art and wants to use his artistic abilities when he starts his web design business.