Project Impact, a community initiative to provide additional operating funds to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and address student achievement gaps in the district, has announced that it has raised $22 million toward its $45 million fundraising goal.
The initiative will use the funds to achieve two overarching goals: boost third-grade reading and math proﬁciency among students in the district; and close literacy gaps with other urban school districts in North Carolina. To that end, over the next six years the initiative will fund an expansion of pre-K programs; provide extended learning options; and increase staff development and instructional support, beginning with the 2016-17 school year. Funders of the initiative to date include the Reynolds American Foundation, the Winston-Salem Foundation, BB&T, Flow Companies, Novant Health, and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, as well as many individuals.
According to a Project Impact spokesperson, twelve hundred economically disadvantaged children in Forsyth County are eligible for but not enrolled in public pre-K programs, while only 56 percent of third-graders in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools read at or above grade level.
"Along with various community groups, the school system shares a sense of urgency regarding the critical need to respond to the needs of high-poverty schools and students with a proficiency gap," said Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools superintendent Beverly Emory. "I deeply appreciate the vision of local business leaders and individuals for creating Project Impact as a catalyst for meaningful change, enabling our schools to implement programs and measure their effectiveness in reaching critical educational goals."