The Project L.I.F.T. Story

Project LIFT Story

In 2012-13, Project L.I.F.T. was launched -- a five-year turnaround initiative in nine schools in West Charlotte. 7,500 CMS students attend Project L.I.F.T. schools. The $55 million L.I.F.T. budget comes with bold “90-90-90” goals:

  • 90% of West Charlotte High School students to graduate
  • 90% of L.I.F.T. students to achieve proficiency in reading and math
  • 90% of students in the West Charlotte corridor will achieve more than one year’s academic growth in one year.

Public Impact’s The Project L.I.F.T. Story reports on the early successes and lessons learned, as the district works towards 90-90-90 by 2018. Project L.I.F.T. has four pillars of intervention: talent, time, technology and parent and community engagement.

The business of turning around low-performing schools is hard and thoughtful work that takes time. At this point, some of the clearest lessons from L.I.F.T. are about implementation and collaboration.

—Juli Kim and Shonaka Ellison, Public Impact

With few other models to emulate, funders of Project L.I.F.T., in partnership with CMS, intended for other school districts in North Carolina and across the country to learn from L.I.F.T.’s achievements and shortfalls. Successes thus far include increased teacher retention rates, extended learning time calendars, and an infusion of technology within L.I.F.T. schools. Now midway through implementation, among the lessons learned, the leadership team at L.I.F.T. now knows that five years is an ambitious timeline, strategic communications are critical, and the full leadership team should have been hired for a planning year to improve implementation.

The Project L.I.F.T. Story: Early Lessons from a Public-Private Education Turnaround Initiative
November 2015
Authored by: Public Impact

Learning from Project L.I.F.T. Story: Legacy of a Public-Private Education Turnaround Initiative
Authored by: Public Impact

Between 2011-2019, The Belk Foundation invested $1.2 million in Project L.I.F.T.