A public-private partnership in North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg County school system is now seeking to improve digital literacy within parts of the city that lack internet access at home.
The school system’s Project L.I.F.T., or Project Leadership & Investment For Transformation, received a $1 million grant last month from the Knight Foundation to advance the project’s Civic Tech Experience, which includes several initiatives geared toward providing students and their families access to mobile devices and basic education around financial planning and community resources. The funding follows a national study that ranked the city of Charlotte one of the most difficult places in the country for people to improve their economic status.
The project has operated for the last seven years as a nonprofit arm of a community of 29 grade schools within Charlotte that ranked low on student attendance, teacher retention, graduation rate and other metrics. Through initiatives like a 1:1 laptop program for students in West Charlotte High School, outfitting classrooms with technology and coaching teachers on how to use classroom technology effectively, the project has helped boost West Charlotte’s graduation rate by 30 percent since 2011, when it sat at just 51 percent.