“Do greater” is a powerful phrase by itself, but William McNeely (aka “Coach Mac”) brings a whole new energy to the two words. He’s the founder of Do Greater Charlotte, a nonprofit that educates underrepresented youth with technology skills and creative outlets. He’s also a former Market Development Executive at Apple, co-founder of a design and media studio, and former coach of his son’s high school football team (hence the “Coach Mac” nickname).
William is one of the several nonprofit leaders that can be found in hygge’s coworking spaces. The Do Greater team is based out of our west charlotte location, but you can find them all over town via their mobile CRTV Lab, a truck outfitted with technology programming that can pull right up to schools and events. William has big plans for his organization and for Charlotte, the city that raised him. We had the chance to ask him some questions, and his answers left us feeling inspired. Read his answers below.
Where did the idea for Do Greater come from? When did you original start the nonprofit?
Do Greater Charlotte came out of my determination to find purpose for my life. Back in 2016, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is scarring of the lungs. I found inspiration in my faith and while studying the Bible verse I wrote this sentence “Commit to doing something greater that will keep giving when you are longer able to give.” And the Do Greater Foundation, Inc was born and incorporated in late 2017. We didn’t actually start any programming until after my double lung transplant in 2019. We use that date as an unofficial start date.
What is Do Greater and the CRTV Lab?
Do Greater Charlotte, as we call it now, is an EdTech nonprofit focused on building creative confidence in youth from underserved communities. We do this through the creative problem-solving process of design thinking along with training in creative disciplines such as graphic design, user experience design, architecture, music/video production, and technology. Our CRTV Lab platform is the way we distribute our programming. It’s consists of the mobile CRTV Lab, a technology truck, CRTV Plus, an online creative community, and now the CRTV Lab at Shiloh, an 8000-square-foot creative space in the basement of Shiloh Baptist Church in Camp Greene.
What makes you passionate about this work?
When I do this work in the community I see myself: a young African-American male trying to understand life and what it would take for me to succeed. Because of opportunities I experienced outside my immediate community, I was exposed to new creative disciplines and careers. So, I know if underserved kids in under resourced communities have the same opportunity, they will flourish as well.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting Do Greater?
This is not for the faint at heart. This is hard work! Waking up everyday with the weight of expectation and impact. It’s not about what I accomplished today, but what impact did I make? Whose life is better because of Do Greater Charlotte’s programming, people and spaces? You may be passionate about something, but that will only take you so far. Purpose fuels the impossible and will move your ideas toward impact.
Do you have any advice for younger folks hoping to get into the nonprofit world?
Make sure you understand what you’re getting into and doing it for the right reasons. Nonprofits are businesses and take a lot of work. Treat it that way. Develop a business plan and a theory of change that lays out a strategy of success. Don’t do it alone. Get a mentor and establish a collaborative network to help you. Be clear about the vision and be able to communicate it well.
Do you have any goals for this year for your nonprofit?
We are on schedule to open the CRTV Lab at Shiloh in June and start programming in July. We will hire our first staff and continue to build support in the creative community. Our first revenue generating business will open in our space as well – the CRTV Lab Coffee Shop in partnership with Enderly Coffee.
What’s your favorite thing about Charlotte?
Charlotte is a community of doers willing to help great ideas come to fruition. People are willing to help and collaborate on impactful projects and they genuinely care. Its has a history of challenges, but is willing to acknowledge them and continue to try and make it right.