The newly opened Charlotte Empowerment Zone in the Pressley Ridge Apartments, which started Jan. 26 with just 11 kids, represents Charlotte’s first attempt at re-creating New York City’s successful Harlem Children’s Zone, an educational initiative serving 17,000 children in a 100-city block area of Harlem.

On Tuesday nights, kids jostle to be the first in the door.

“They’re helping us with our homework,” says 11-year-old Moesha Brown.

“So we can go to college,” adds her 9-year-old sister, Sabrina.

At its core, empowerment zones are about keeping at-risk kids in school all the way through college.

But the effort goes well beyond tutoring, into the realm of transforming entire at-risk neighborhoods through education, social services and community-building programs.