What Leon Levine Built in Charlotte

The business founder and philanthropist left his mark, and name, all over our city.
Groundbreaking Of Lci Building Ii Photo 02
Leon and Sandra Levine at the groundbreaking for the Levine Cancer Institute’s outpatient center in 2016.

Leon Levine’s influence on Charlotte does not hide. It comes right out and announces itself. Newcomers and visitors quickly apprehend the name’s importance. It adorns the residence hall at UNC Charlotte, the job training center at Goodwill, the center for cancer research and treatment, and on and on.

Levine and his wife, Sandra, started the Leon Levine Foundation in 1980 with, according to the foundation, “a modest sum of money.” By the time Leon died on April 5 at 85, the foundation had granted more than $450 million, with a concentration on health care, education, and community causes. In 2016, the Levines broadened the foundation’s scope and awarded grants throughout the Carolinas, beginning with Greensboro, Raleigh, and Durham, three other cities swelling with people and worthy causes.

But Charlotte was where he first made his mark, with a Family Dollar on Central Avenue in 1959, and when he made millions, he decided to give a generous portion back. “The self-made man who never finished college,” The Charlotte Observer noted, “started one of North Carolina’s biggest scholarship programs.”

Organizations used his name not to satisfy his ego, Levine once said, but to help them raise more money. The donations, and the causes he donated to, were investments in the future. Leon Levine always did invest wisely. 

Levine Cancer Institute Building 1 Signage

Courtesy, Atrium Health Foundation

Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, 2012

The Cancer Institute, the hub of a multi-site network, was established with a $20 million gift from the Levine Foundation.

Levine Childrens Hospital Exterior

Courtesy, Atrium Foundation

Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital, 2007

The 234-bed facility is ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the Southeast, established as a regional leader in neonatal care and pediatric transplants, dialysis, and heart surgery. Leon and Sandra Levine were the primary donors.

Donations to Central Piedmont Community College, 2002-present

The Levines’ support of CPCC began with a $5 million donation, the largest in school history at the time, to help students pay for tuition, fees, and books.

2002: South Campus in Matthews renamed and dedicated as Levine Campus

2004: Opening of Levine II, the Levine Campus’ second building

2014: Levine Information Technology building dedicated at the Central Campus

2019: Opening of Levine III on the Levine Campus

2021: The Leon Levine Health Sciences Center opened and dedicated at Central Campus

Levine Center For Wellness And Recreation Queens University Of Charlotte

Courtesy, Queens University of Charlotte

The Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation, Queens University, 2013

The center includes a 5,000-square-foot fitness center, 1/8-mile indoor track, and 33-meter NCAA-level competition swimming pool.

Levine Hall, UNC Charlotte, 2017

The residential building houses more than 400 students and seminar rooms, work-study areas, community lounges, and a game room.

Leon Levine Opportunity Center, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, 2016

The hub of the Goodwill Opportunity Campus on Wilkinson Boulevard, the 160,000-square-foot center provides space for Goodwill partners to help clients with financial, health, employment, and other needs, plus computer labs, classrooms, and interview rooms.

The Sandra and Leon Levine Jewish Community Center, 1986

Shalom Park, 5007 Providence Road

The Levines led the creation of Shalom Park, a center for Charlotte’s Jewish community, and donated $1 million to name the community center at its hub. 

Levine Museum of the New South, 2001

The museum opened in 1991 but added Levine’s name after a $1 million donation.

Day Panorama5cropfinal Mitchell Kearney

photo by Mitchell Kearney

Levine Center for the Arts, 2010

The center is the product of years of study and negotiations by local leaders and officials, who pieced together a workable plan for an arts and cultural campus by its groundbreaking in 2007. But it didn’t acquire its name until 2010, when the Levine Foundation made a $15 million contribution to its endowment campaign—which capped an $83 million fundraising effort.

The Center for the Arts has done as much as anything in Charlotte’s history to transform a dull, business-oriented city center into a cultural destination. The member museums and theater host events, performances, and conferences in addition to exhibitions that allow patrons of one museum easy access to others. It’s hard now to imagine uptown without it.

Leon and Sandra Levine’s Legacy Giving in Health Care

A partial list of the couple’s donations over the years

1987: The Levine family’s first contribution to Children’s Miracle Network 

2003: $10 million to name Levine Children’s Hospital (LCH) 

2007: $250,000 to create the Dorothy and Herman Poliakoff Garden at LCH in memory of Sandra’s parents 

2007: $200,000 to support muscular dystrophy research 

2008: $100,000 to support CMC (now Atrium Health) Parkinson’s Disease
and Movement Disorders Center 

2008: $5.5 million challenge grant made to LCH 

2009: $6 million to establish the Levine Endowment for the Future to advance research, programs, and patient outreach at LCH 

2010: $20 million to establish Levine Cancer Institute (LCI) 

2014: $3 million to establish the Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Center ($1 million from the Leon Levine Foundation, with an additional $2 million from Levine family members) 

2015: $3 million to establish the Sandra and Leon Levine Psychiatry Residency Program at Atrium Health

2015: $100,000 challenge grant made at the inaugural Levine Children’s Gala

2016: $25 million committed to Levine Cancer Institute II

2016: $1 million to establish the Sandra Levine Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program

2017: $2 million in support of clinical research at LCI and programs to reduce disparities in cancer care

2017: $4 million personally pledged by Leon Levine in support of LCH and LCI

2017: $1 million challenge grant made at Levine Children’s Gala

2019: Expansion of the Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapies unit at LCH with leading support from the Levine family

2019: $2 million to establish the distinguished chair in Laboratory Cancer Research and the Adolescent and Young Adult Survivorship Clinic

2021: $1 million to support Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute’s new headquarters at Kenilworth Medical Plaza

2023: Sandra Levine commits $500,000 on behalf of her family at Levine Children’s Gala to support pediatric behavioral health

Categories: The Buzz