Duke Energy Foundation president Richard “Stick” Williams has been named one of this year’s “Heroes of the Fortune 500” for good works by employees of the nation’s largest companies.
Fortune magazine recognized Williams for helping create Project L.I.F.T., a $55 million private-public partnership aimed at improving the performance of public schools in Charlotte.
The initiative aims to help students who traditionally perform poorly in west Charlotte schools with support and innovative teaching.
Williams, who grew up in public housing in Greensboro, told Fortune that low graduation rates at some schools were unacceptable.
Project L.I.F.T. has already increased the graduation rate at West Charlotte High from just over 50 percent in 2012 to 78 percent in 2014, the magazine reported.
“When I go to these schools, I look at these students, and I’m looking at Stick Williams,” he told Fortune. “I was very fortunate that a lot of folks had their fingerprints on me. If we don’t have people putting their fingerprints on these students, they might not have the opportunities I had.”