In its latest effort to improve public schools with private money, Project LIFT has awarded almost $300,000 in grants to teachers in the nine west Charlotte schools that are targeted for change.
The grants range from $1,500 for an elementary school science fair to $30,000 for efforts such as a student trip to Washington, D.C., and a program to help parents understand mental health issues. Eighteen teachers in Project LIFT schools received grants.
Local corporations, foundations and individual donors have pledged $55 million over the next five years to improve the academic prospects of students at West Charlotte High and the eight schools that feed into it. Project LIFT, which stands for Leadership and Investment for Transformation, hopes to boost West Charlotte’s graduation rate from 54 percent in 2012 to 90 percent in 2017, and have 90 percent of students in all the schools earning grade-level scores on state exams.
The schools have long been among the lowest-performing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and most students come from low-income homes. CMS signed a contract with the private donor board to jointly run the schools.
Other efforts in the first year of the project include recruitment bonuses for teachers, summer programs to boost reading, software to help teachers analyze student progress, laptop computers for elementary students and subsidized internet access for families. Next year four LIFT schools will launch year-round calendars, with school starting in July, to reduce the loss of academic skills during the summer.
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