Project L.I.F.T. Making Strides


Project L.I.F.T. aims to improve educational outcomes in public schools on Charlotte's west side corridor. Click here to read more about this initiative.

In the fall of 2010, Foundation For The Carolinas announced the formation of a group of foundation, corporate and community leaders to explore the ways in which private philanthropy could have a bigger impact on graduation rate in Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools. With the support of the Robinson Center for Civic Leadership, the group met throughout the final months of the year, hearing from national experts and working with school officials, teachers, parents, students and community members.

In January 2011, Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment For Transformation), a $55 million program to address educational issues in the West Charlotte Corridor, was unveiled. The project will focus on enhanced teacher and school leadership quality, more time spent on task (including extended day, out of school time, and pre-kindergarten programs), access to technology, and policy changes that will allow school leadership more freedom. An extensive outreach program is also planned to engage community and business leaders, faith communities and others in ensuring that students get the most out of their educational opportunities.

At the time of the announcement, $40.5 million had been pledged. Since then, other funders have joined the effort. An intensive fundraising effort among Charlotte’s African-American community has also been under way since the spring. As of this writing, more than $43 million in funding has been identified.

In summer of 2011, Project L.I.F.T. announced its new executive director, Denise Watts. Ms. Watts has served as a teacher, principal and administrator in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, with a marked record of success with turning academic performance around at troubled schools. In addition, Project L.I.F.T. representatives were invited to visit the White House to meet with President Obama and corporate leaders to discuss the ways in which private giving can make a difference in public education.

Corporate and Family Foundation Donors to Project L.I.F.T.


Jimmie Johnson Foundation
Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation
Belk Foundation
Foundation For The Carolinas
Wells Fargo Foundation
Duke Energy Foundation
Bank of America Charitable Foundation
C.D. Spangler Foundation
The Leon Levine Foundation
$1 million
$2 million
$2.5 million
$5 million
$10 million
$10 million
$10 million

Denise Watts
Executive Director
Project L.I.F.T.

Project Summary

Click here to download the CMS Investment Study Group Project Summary for Project L.I.F.T.