The OLPC project is alive and well in The Queen City.

Making Digital Literacy a Reality for Everyone

Queens’ Knight School of Communication takes another step toward making Charlotte a model city for digital literacy

WHO:  The James L. Knight School of Communication is launching a digital literacy initiative at Ashley Park Elementary School, a school within the Project L.I.F.T. corridor. Project L.I.F.T. is a non-profit organization that transforms the way students who traditionally perform poorly in school are educated, focusing on nine schools within Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).


WHAT:  The Knight School has partnered with CMS,  One Laptop per Child, Mobile Beacon and EveryoneOn to clear away digital literacy obstacles for Ashley Park Elementary families and assist parents who cannot keep pace with the technological literacy required of their children. The Knight School will assess families’ technology needs; Mobile Beacon is donating 100 modems and is providing free in-home Internet access for the remainder of the school year to participating families; and One Laptop per Child has already provided students with computers. The initiative aligns with the Knight School’s overarching mission—to raise the digital media literacy rate of the city to improve the lives of Charlotteans—and the launch day will be celebrated by a Mayoral Proclamation.


WHY: The focus on Ashley Park Elementary follows the Knight School’s Digital Media Literacy (DML) Index, the first tool of its kind to produce a comprehensive view of DML competency across a municipality—in this case, the city of Charlotte. The community surrounding Ashley Park scored the lowest on the Knight School’s Charlotte area index; a deeper look at the data revealed the neighborhood has the lowest Internet use, contains the highest percentage of adults without a high school degree and has the highest percentage of households with an annual income less than $40,000.


WHERE:  Ashley Park Elementary School (Media Center)

2401 Belfast Drive, Charlotte


WHEN:  The Second Annual Digital Media Literacy Day, an initiative launched in 2013 by the Knight School

Friday, March 21, 2014, 9-10 a.m. and 4-5 p.m


  • Remarks by Dean Eric Freedman of the Knight School on the significance and importance of the initiative
  • Students and parents becoming more digitally literate – receiving lessons on how to use their computers, some who will be using computers for the first time


The mission of the James L. Knight School of Communication is to prepare consumers and creators of communication messages to become engaged citizens, advocates and leaders in the communities they serve. The Knight School offers a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Journalism and Digital Media, a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Communication, and a Master of Arts in Communication. Alumni thrive in such areas as journalism, media industries, advertising, public and community relations, law, human resources, sports enterprise, corporate communication, government and education.


Queens University of Charlotte is a private, co-ed, Presbyterian-affiliated comprehensive university with a commitment to both liberal arts and professional studies. Located in the heart of historic Charlotte, Queens serves approximately 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students through its College of Arts and Sciences, McColl School of Business, Wayland H. Cato, Jr. School of Education, James L. Knight School of Communication and Andrew Blair College of Health which features the Presbyterian School of Nursing.


Mobile Beacon provides fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband services exclusively to educational and nonprofit organizations across the United States. Mobile Beacon was created by a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is one of the largest national educational broadband service (EBS) providers in the country. Through an agreement with Clearwire, Mobile Beacon provides high-speed data services and mobile Internet access on the CLEAR 4G network. For more information, visit


EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit working to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet, computers, and free digital literacy accessible to all unconnected Americans. EveryoneOn aims to leverage the power of the Internet to provide opportunity to all Americans—regardless of age, race, geography, income or education level. For more information, visit



One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression. In partnership with the public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations and supported by comprehensive implementation and pedagogical services, OLPC seeks to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power connected laptop that empowers individual learning and growth. Fore more information, visit

OLPC Trains Local Librarians in Charlotte’s Project L.I.F.T. Zone

Monique F. Pollock, OLPC Facilitator at Ashley Park K-8

On May 29, 2013 several Charlotte Mecklenburg librarians received a first hand experience with the XO laptop. Due to an emerging partnership with Project L.I.F.T and the West Charlotte branch locations, the librarians are eager to assist elementary XO learners who live in this zone. These library locations include the West Boulevard, Beatties Ford Road and the ImaginOn branches, which are frequented by the students.


Programs are being developed to support learning with technology at these locations.


During the training, the librarians got the full experience of an XO learner in a one to one classroom. From opening the innovative laptop to creating work samples, exploration filled the fun packed hour. The librarians even got a chance to chat with each other with the laptops’ ad hoc networks. Using the Sugar platform exclusive to the XO laptop, communicating and sharing work is an available option to all XO learners.

The staff was also impressed with accessibility options on the laptop including the free applications, multiple languages and the speak function, allowing students to hear words as they type passages. The session also included an introduction to coding, importing and creating media and downloading books to the XO laptop. The librarians are excited to welcome XO learners in the 2013-2014 school year. Plans are underway for workshops and XO dedicated spaces in the select West Charlotte library locations.

Computers going to low-income campuses – Project LIFT

Published Monday, February 25, 2013 3:18 pm by Herbert L. White – The Charlotte Post

More than 2,000 elementary school students in the Project LIFT zone will take delivery of notebook computers on Feb. 26.

One Laptop per Child Association will provide the laptops for students in the first through fourth grades as part of the organization’s largest U.S. effort to date – with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The machines will be presented at Druid Hills Academy, 2801 Lucena St.
“We are pleased to be working with the Knight Foundation and Project LIFT in this bold endeavor,” said Rodrigo Arboleda, chairman and CEO of One Laptop per Child. “We believe that partnering with foundations, the private sector and the public sector is an excellent model that can be replicated across the country.”

photo (2)
The computers are integral to Project LIFT, a $55 million, community-oriented campaign to improve academic achievement in 11 northwest Charlotte schools. The program’s goal is to have 90 percent of the zone’s elementary students perform on grade level, achieve more than one year of academic growth per grade, and improve the graduation rate at West Charlotte High School. Project LIFT has offered notebook computers at a discount to families and provided free broadband access for a year.
“Our technology pillar has become complete with One Laptop per Child,” said Project LIFT Zone Superintendent Denise Watts. “These strategies will no doubt introduce 21st century technology to our students and help bridge the technology gap,” said Watts.

Continue reading here.

One Laptop per Child Launch Event at Druid Hills Academy

Your presence is requested…
One Laptop per Child Launch Event at Druid Hills Academy

On February 26, more than 2,000 laptops will be distributed to students in the Project L.I.F.T. zone through the One Laptop per Child initiative, which is funded by the Knight Foundation. This initiative seeks to provide students with access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
10:30 a.m.
Druid Hills Academy Cafetorium
2801 Lucena Street Charlotte, NC 28206

Using digital tools, literacy to reshape – Charlotte

Inside a bright sunlit classroom, students hunch over their laptops. They’re laughing and smiling as they create an interactive story with images, sounds and text. One girl happily helps a friend take a digital photo of himself for the multimedia timeline.

Knight active grants portfolio: 12 projects totaling $18,113,00

It’s a typical college scene. But this isn’t a college. It’s a second-grade classroom at Druid Hills Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C. The students are inventing their own digital version of Little Red Riding Hood. They’re seven years old.

The elementary school is one of nine in a West Charlotte initiative called Project L.I.F.T. The five-year, $55 million public-private initiative is designed to speed student progress in some of city’s lowest-performing schools. Knight Foundation announced $4 million in support last fall. Part of the foundation’s funding will provide laptops to all Kindergarten-through-fifth grade students in the Project L.I.F.T schools.

The students making themselves the heroes in Little Red Riding Hood — and the teachers who plan the lessons that turn computers into teaching tools — are the pioneers. Most of the 3,200 laptops will come in late February and “the excitement is contagious,” said One Laptop Per Child project manager David Jessup, who is overseeing their introduction.

Continue reading the original post from the Knight Foundation Blog here.

Related post: Charlotte leaders share path to increasing student achievement

North Carolina teachers and students will now have access to Common Core aligned lesson plans

Charlotte, North Carolina teachers and students will now have access to Common Core aligned lesson plans that emphasize the use of The Sugar Learning Platform.

In early 2013, over 2,500 teachers and students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Project L.I.F.T. Zone will receive a connected XO laptop with the latest Sugar Learning Platform software. Nearly 200 exemplar lesson plans and onsite pedagogical support will accompany these laptops.

This collection, available free of charge, includes lesson plan samples for teachers and students from kindergarten to fifth grade. Math and reading lesson plans are aligned with the recently adopted Common Core, a national blueprint for teaching and learning that has now been adopted by 45 states and three territories. The Core aims to ensure that all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Science, social studies and arts plans will be accessible and aligned with North Carolina Essential Standards.

Project L.I.F.T. Zone Superintendent Denise Watts recognizes this collection as “the beginning of a new way of teaching and learning.” Watts, a former educator herself, sees these tools as “the support teachers need to ensure effective implementation of technology into the classroom.”

Continue to visit the site for new, innovative approaches to teaching using The
Sugar Learning Platform. Professional development communities will continue to
work throughout the year to perfect lesson plans and project ideas.

What’s All This Talk About “Reach Extension?”

Public Impact is a national education policy and management-consulting firm based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They have been working with Project L.I.F.T. in Charlotte, North Carolina where OLPC will be providing connected XO laptops and ongoing training and support to 2,500 teachers and students.

The efforts of Public Impact are aimed at extending the reach of excellent teachers using job redesign and technology. Public Impact believes schools can put in place models to ensure that all students have access to an excellent education. One of these models emphasizes the use of online digital instruction. In Project L.I.F.T. for example, school leadership teams are looking at spaces throughout the academic day where technology can be swapped for a period of teaching time. This will of course free up the classroom teacher’s time, allowing the educator to reach an even larger number of students on a daily basis.

XO laptops will be used throughout The Project L.I.F.T. Zone to support much of this work. Quality online digital instruction and the already available Sugar Learning Platform will serve as tools to ensure that every student receives the support he or she needs to be successful both in and out of the classroom. Both Sugar’s Journal and online program functions will store student work and data, allowing for continuous reflection, review and remediation.

For more information about the transformational work Public Impact is doing in our schools, visit

Spotlight on Druid Hills Academy

By: Emily Swartz, Druid Hills facilitator

Druid Hills Academy is a Pre-K through 8th grade school in the Project L.I.F.T. Zone of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina. This year, all first through fourth grade students will be receiving an XO laptop.  The teachers have already received an XO from their summer training, and are working hard to plan for the arrival of the XO’s.  There have already been several events held at Druid Hills to drum up the excitement with students and parents about the opportunities that the laptops will bring to these learners!

Open House

On Thursday, August 23, students and parents from Druid Hills Academy came to kick off the new school year at the Open House Carnival.  Students were able to meet their new teachers, play in bounce houses, eat pizza, and of course get their first look at the XO! OLPC was there with ten XO’s to let students see and explore their new tool.  Parents and students were both excited to hear that all first through fourth grade students would be getting a laptop this year.  There were a lot of questions that were fielded by our project manager, David Jessup, and the site facilitator, Emily Swartz.

Second Grade

Another exciting event at Druid Hills was the opportunity to give a second grade class a sneak peak at the XO’s.  Due to overcrowding, a small class of 11 advanced students was created to challenge these students and enrich the academic services they receive.  Since this class is so small, we were able to provide each of these students with a loaner laptop. After weeks of anticipation, the students were cheering when they got to put their hands on their very own XO for the first time.  The students have been so excited to explore and get to know their XO’s.  Currently students are working on exploring an activity on their own and then explaining the functions of the activity to their classmates.  It is amazing to see the students learning so much on their own and the excitement to share their knowledge with others.

Curriculum Night

North Carolina made a transition this year from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study to The Common Core Standards.  The Common Core Standards are national standards that provide a clear and consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn.  They are rigorous and relevant to the twenty first century.  The Common Core Standards reflect the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. Druid Hills designated a whole night to informing parents about The Common Core Standards and how their student’s education will be different this year.  This provided a perfect opportunity to inform parents about the XO and how it fits in perfectly with the goals of The Common Core Curriculum.  We got to speak to parents in every first through fourth grade class to inform them that their child would be getting a laptop and the benefits that the laptop would bring to their child’s education.  After the information sessions, our OLPC facilitator was able to attend the pasta dinner that was served and talk with students and families in a more personal way to discuss questions and opportunities that came along with the XO. This was another great step forward as we seek to inform our school and the community about our exceptional educational tool.

Day to Day

Teachers at Druid Hills continue to surpass our expectations each day.  Although at this point there are only a limited amount of laptops at the school, Druid Hills teachers are using creativity and teamwork to ensure that students are getting exposed to the XO laptops.  First grade teachers have combined all of the teacher laptops to create learning centers with the XO’s.  Second grade students have a 15 minute block everyday that they get to explore Activities on the XO. In third grade, teachers are flex grouping their students and giving opportunities to work with the XO and the local newspaper.  And in fourth grade, pairs of students can be found rotating through a computer station where they are playing and creating memorization games.  It is exhilarating to see the XO’s everyday as we travel through classrooms! Check back for more updates on Druid Hills Academy and other schools in the Project L.I.F.T Zone.

OLPC Heads to Charlotte, North Carolina

Thanks to Knight Foundation, OLPC will be providing laptops and training to over 2,500 teachers and students in Charlotte’s Project L.I.F.T. Zone.

Initial Teacher Training: August 14 and 15, 2012

On the morning of August 14, OLPC staff members and support personnel embarked upon three school sites to provide training and development to nearly 150 teachers from seven school sites. OLPC was greeted warmly and the positive energy was contagious; teachers were eager to get their laptops and to begin exploring right away.  It was a thrill to see teachers dive right in opening laptops, exploring new Activities and “friending” one another. The first day, trainers focused on OLPC’s learning principles and project goals. Teachers learned about our work around the world, the theory of Constructionism and the benefits of the SugarLearning Platform. It was a meaningful session of exploration and collaborative learning. By day’s end, teachers were able to present their Portfolios and talk about the various projects they created in Sugar. 

Day two of training was dedicated to curriculum alignment and ways to incorporate XO laptops into daily classroom routines. Teachers were given strategies for implementation and some spent time sharing ways that these machines could transform their classroom cultures. In the afternoon, teachers worked in grade level groups to create aligned lesson plans using Sugar Activities and Common Core State Standards. North Carolina is one of 45 states that has adopted Common Core, a comprehensive K-12 curriculum thatemphasizes 21st century learningskills and real world application of content.  Community leaders, administrators and teachers all believe that these laptops are one tool that will position their students for success in the global economy.

As we closed day two, teachers were given an opportunity to share their lesson plans and discuss the many new options that the XO laptops provide. Student engagement and collaboration will take on a new meaning in the 2012-2013 academic year.

Check back frequently for how OLPC is doing their part to L.I.F.T. up Charlotte’s West Corridor!

OLPC comes to North Carolina! Knight Foundation sponsors XOs for 3,200 students in Charlotte

The Knight Foundation yesterday announced it would join community leaders from Charlotte, North Carolina in contributing to Project L.I.F.T., a 5-year $55M+ project to improve education in West Charlotte schools.  (It began last January with a $40M round of fundraising; and this year raised another $15M.)

Knight’s contribution will fund a community engagement coordinator to keep parents and local communities in touch with the project as it develops, and for an OLPC program (including XOs and training) for all students and teachers in grades K-5 in the L.I.F.T. schools: roughly 3,200 in all.

This builds on our work together earlier this year, to develop a digital literacy program at Holmes Elementary School in Miami.  Our experience so far suggests that giving elementary students access to computers – and letting them take them home and use them with their families – helps promote better informed and engaged communities.

We are delighted to see this new project take off within the framework of the existing L.I.F.T project. And looking forward to working more closely with the Knight Foundation, whose input has already informed some of our practices. Their background is in community engagement rather than education, which complements the viewpoints of our other partners. And the added focus on community engagement is one of those necessary elements that can make all the difference in longevity and impact.

Children receiving XOs in Miami’s Holmes Elementary School