In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for increased people-to-people cooperation based on citizen diplomacy initiatives. This led to the creation of Sister Cities partnerships between cities in the United States and cities located around the world. On February 5, 1962, Charlotte formally started its first Sister Cities partnership with Arequipa, Peru. Our city’s network of Sister Cities partnerships has expanded to include Krefeld, Germany (1985), Baoding, China (1987), Voronezh, Russia (1991), Limoges, France (1992), Wrocław, Poland (1993), and Kumasi, Ghana (1995). On July 24, 1978, the Charlotte City Council formally established the Charlotte Sister Cities Committee. Nine years later, the Charlotte Sister Cities Committee was recognized as a registered Non-Profit by the State of North Carolina.
The long list of Sister Cities accomplishments include the creation of a school, called the Charlotte School, in a low-income district of Arequipa, Peru, annual local festivals, the welcoming of special guests, educational initiatives, student exchanges, business cooperation, athletic competitions, visits to sister cities, memorials and street name dedications, and general awareness for the global interconnectedness of Charlotte. Equally important are the many personal experiences and life-long friendships that have been created through citizen engagement with citizens of other cultures through Sister Cities activities.
In 2008, the Charlotte Sister Cities Committee disbanded in an effort to merge with the Mayor’s International Cabinet (now the Charlotte International Cabinet). While sister cities exchanges, service projects, government visits, and community festivals continued, a formal committee providing vision and leadership for Charlotte Sister Cities does not currently exist.
On June 22, 2016, the Charlotte International Cabinet provided $78,286.76 in funding to the City of Charlotte with the specific mandate to provide a matching grant for community initiatives that promote and celebrate Charlotte Sister Cities. Grants were awarded in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Around $45,000 remains in this grant account. In September 2019, it was announced at the Charlotte International Cabinet meeting that the city wished to consider a new approach for how these funds would be housed and dispersed.
On Wednesday, April 6, 2020, a Charlotte Sister Cities' Steering Committee was formed.
Our most cogent diplomats cannot achieve peace without understanding,
and understanding can only be achieved through the hearts of people.