Project LIFT to raise $55M for West Charlotte schools

Credit: Greg Argos

Project LIFT to raise $55M for West Charlotte schools


by NewsChannel 36 Staff

Posted on January 31, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 3:40 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Schools in the West Charlotte corridor will get a huge financial boost from private donors, thanks to a new initiative called Project LIFT.

The nonprofit organization Foundation for the Carolinas made the announcement at West Charlotte High School Monday morning.

LIFT stands for Leadership and Investment for Transformation.

The project hopes to provide $55 million in private funding for schools over the next five years.

More than $40 million has already been pledged by local businesses and foundations.

  • Bank of America - $10 million
  • C.D. Spangler Foundation - $10 million
  • Leon Levine Foundations - $10 million
  • Duke Energy - $5 million
  • Wells Fargo - $2.5 million
  • Foundation for the Carolinas - $2 million
  • Belk Foundation - $1 million

The money will go to schools that feed West Charlotte High School -- Allenbrook, Statesville Road, Bruns Avenue, Byers and Druid Hills, Thomasboro Pre-K and Ranson Middle School.

These schools were chosen because the graduation rate at West Charlotte is only 51 percent, which is the lowest in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district.

"We aimed to impact the most basic measures of student achievement -- the graduation rate and overall performance," Anna Spangler Nelson of the C.D. Spangler Foundation said in a news release.

Mayor Anthony Foxx and CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman attended the announcement event Monday morning.

"The idea is that if we take the hardest corridor and prove a model then no one can dispute it in the future," said Foxx. "So we want to take the toughest problem and try to address it."

About $11 million will be donated each year. Out of that, $2.3 million is aimed at recruiting and retaining talented teachers; $6 million is aimed at extending time in the classroom by lengthening the school day or the school year. The rest is split among technology, community support and school environment enhancements.

Some of the changes, particularly when it comes to lengthening time in the classroom, have to come from legislative decisions in Charlotte.

"We can't start before the 25th of August, and we have to end by June 10? That makes no sense at all," said CMS Superintendent Dr. Peter Gorman, who was referring to the limitations put on the district from Raleigh. "We should be able to design a calendar that meets the needs of students, not the needs of a legislative mandate."

The foundation says they will only donate the money once all $55 million is raised. That's expected by the summer of 2011.