Renaissance West Community Initiative

Charlotte, NC

 

THE CHALLENGE

Most students currently attending Renaissance West STEAM Academy were previously assigned to low performing schools. In fact, test scores reveal that 90% of RWSA’s students started the year below proficiency, with the majority being well below proficiency.


THE WORK

With CMS and other community partners, Renaissance West Community Initiative launched a cradle-to-career education continuum within the former Boulevard Homes neighborhood in response to the poverty, unemployment and crime that had plagued the neighborhood.


MORE ABOUT RENAISSANCE WEST COMMUNITY INITIATIVE

Renaissance West STEAM Academy, a pre-K-8 school, is a cornerstone of revitalization of the West Boulevard corridor. The newly-constructed, $32M school opened in August 2017 and will ultimately serve 1,000 students. RWSA is surrounded by 334 units of mixed-income housing and is adjacent to The Howard Levine Child Development Center.

Renaissance West Community Initiative has a holistic neighborhood revitalization plan with affordable housing, a cradle-to-career education continuum, and community wellness, based on the Purpose Built Communities model, with a goal to improve economic mobility. RWSA is modeled after the successful Drew Charter School in Atlanta. In fact, Founding RWSA Principal and Charlotte-native Erin Barksdale completed a year-long planning residency with Drew Charter.

The Belk “Eagle’s Nest” Literacy Center at RWSA will provide targeted literacy intervention services to improve each student’s reading ability.

Cindy Motta, Literacy Facilitator at RWSA, adds, “We analyze data from state and school assessments as well as our program screeners to determine where gaps in our scholars’ foundational skills exist. Our instruction is in small groups and very intentional, and it will be a real factor in the growth we expect. The strategic instruction and vibrant atmosphere makes our scholars feel great about coming to the literacy lab.”

In 2016, The Belk Foundation invested $150,000 in Renaissance West Community Initiative for the Literacy Center at RWSA.