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.”
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.
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