Project L.I.F.T. (“Leadership and Investment for Transformation”), a community initiative aimed at providing intensive support to help close the achievement gap in the West Charlotte Corridor schools, announced in August it would grant $950,000 of funds raised to date to Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. CIS is the first and only partner in this first year of what is planned to be a five-year pilot initiative. This funding will enable CIS to significantly enhance current programming efforts in the West Charlotte corridor schools beginning with the 2011-12 school year. All eight west corridor schools that are a part of Project L.I.F.T. – including two schools new to CIS – will now have the CIS program and at least one or more CIS site coordinators based at the school.
Denise Watts, Project L.I.F.T.’s Executive Director, said CIS was selected as its first grant recipient and partner because Communities In Schools has a proven track record of keeping students on the graduation pathway. “This partnership is in natural alignment and supports the vision and mission of Project L.I.F.T.,” said Watts. “Our collective efforts, coupled with our focused philanthropic approach, will allow us to strategically line up both the private and public sectors around a plan to address this growing community issue.”
“The Project L.I.F.T. grant is one of the largest that CIS-Charlotte has ever received,” said Molly Shaw, CIS Executive Director. “Not only will it enable us to increase and enhance services to the families we currently serve in the West Charlotte feeder zone schools, but we anticipate an additional 1,000 students and their families will be served through the partnership,” Shaw added. “Our staff and board are honored and excited to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative and believe it will have a significant impact on the students and families our mission calls us to serve. This is an outstanding opportunity for all involved.”
The CMS Investment Study Group, a task force composed of leaders from nine of Charlotte’s largest community and family foundations, Mayor Anthony Foxx, and several other community thought leaders, began meeting nearly a year ago to research and strategize what could be done to address the achievement gap in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The group, being led by the Center for Civic Leadership at the Foundation For The Carolinas, determined that bold action needed to be taken to galvanize the community and collectively help lift up and accelerate CMS’s efforts to improve academic outcomes for all students. Project L.I.F.T. is the result of the group’s study and decision to focus their investments on the West Charlotte Corridor schools.
Shantiqua Neely, a CIS high school site coordinator for the past two years, has been named the CIS program director for Project L.I.F.T. She will be responsible for the management and coordination of the CIS staff and programs at the eight Project L.I.F.T. schools. Specific goals for CIS will be to increase the graduation cohort rate, student achievement, and post-secondary options for students.
“We have been very busy putting a great team in place, strategically placing site coordinators and adding new positions based on specific needs at the schools,” said Neely. “Site coordinators at the Project L.I.F.T. schools will continue to provide the same intensive case management services for selected groups of students [100 per caseload] that is the CIS model, but will also be providing targeted programming and additional enrichment activities that will assist in goal attainment.”
Neely emphasized, however, that CIS is just one piece of the larger [Project L.I.F.T.] picture. “We really need the entire community involved, not just the west side, in order to achieve some ambitious goals,” said Neely. “Our CIS team will be doing our best to get that involvement from every sector of the community. We are committed to collaboration, integrity, teamwork and results, and believe that with these core values, the sky is the limit for this initiative and ultimately our students and the community.”
Project L.I.F.T. Schools
Druid Hills Academy
Statesville Road Elementary
Walter G. Byers School
Ranson Middle School
West Charlotte High School
Video Clips related to Project L.I.F.T.