Local News
6:04 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Project LIFT To Distribute Free And Discounted Computers To Students

A student tests a computer Project LIFT families can buy for a discounted price.
Credit Lisa Miller

This week about 2,200 elementary school kids will be getting free laptops.  It’s part of the Project LIFT effort to boost learning at nine schools on Charlotte’s west side. 

These laptops are made for kids.  They’re white and green and sturdy. 

“It has the handles so it wouldn’t fall when I’m holding it because I really drop stuff without handles,” said Maya Dunbar, a third grader at Allenbrook Elementary. 

She and other kids tested them out a couple months ago.  The computers cost $200 to produce and come loaded with math and reading programs.  All first through fourth-graders at the Project LIFT schools will get the laptops to use in class and take home.  The non-profit One Laptop Per Child has trained teachers to incorporate the computers in their lesson plans and the Knight Foundation has picked up the cost. 

David Jessup manages the program for the schools.  He says computers are important learning tools for these students. 

“Coupled with potentially being years behind academically, they’re also unable to have access to the machines or to technology that opens them up to the broader world.  So we believe the laptop is an essential component for learning in the 21st century,” says Jessup.    

For that reason, Project LIFT has made technology part of its effort to help turnaround these schools and that includes putting computers in homes. 

Parents can buy laptops and a year of broadband internet access for $150 dollars through Microsoft’s “Shape the Future” program.  Project Lift’s director Denise Watts says that helps parents out a lot too. 

“We are in a world now that is driven by broadband internet access and if you think about everything we do…we pay bills online, we get information online, we communicate online.  Our families are at a disadvantage when they don’t have the ability to do that,” says Watts.