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Charlotte schools’ effort lands Gates grant

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An initiative to boost student performance by African-American students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s four lowest-performing high schools has received a $487,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The effort, led by The Lee Institute and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg African American Agenda, or CM3A, aims to mobilize community support and volunteers to work with students and parents at the four schools, and to equip community members to advocate for public-policy changes to better prepare students.

African-American students in the Mecklenburg County have lower passing rates and higher dropout rates than white students, the Lee Institute says, and a lower percentage of African-American students in the school system pursue educational opportunities beyond high school.

The four schools are located in an “achievement zone” that is home to the school system’s lowest-performing schools.

Schools in the zone have high populations of African-American students, ranging from 88 percent at West Charlotte High School, to 51 percent at Wilson Middle School.

The schools also have a growing Hispanic population.

Formed in January 2007 to create an agenda to address disparities facing African Americans in the community, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg African American Agenda selected education as its top priority and has enlisted over 1,000 community members.

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