Project LIFT hopes to join the Million Father March in a big way, summoning fathers and male stand-ins to walk 7,500 students to school Monday morning.
The march is an effort led by the Chicago-based Black Star Project, designed to boost academic achievement among African American and Latino students by getting fathers involved in their education. This won't be the first time local groups and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents have taken part, but LIFT has extra money and energy behind the push.
Parent engagement is a key part of the five-year, $55 million quest to turn around West Charlotte High and its eight feeder schools. Those schools have high poverty levels and a large number of students being raised by single moms or grandmothers, so Project LIFT is also recruiting local fraternities and members of Men Who Care Global and 100 Black Men of Charlotte to escort students on the first day. While the first-day walk is symbolic, the real goal is lasting involvement by fathers and male mentors.
LIFT staffer Christian Friend posted on the project blog about the impact of having a loving but distant father and losing him too early. "For years I resented by father," he writes. "I resented not having more time with him. I resented the lack of attention and emotion I got from my father. As I approach 40, I really appreciate my father. ... His work allowed him to provide a great life for my brother and I. More importantly than that, my father blessed me immensely because .
Click here to read more about the Project LIFT effort or to register. Of course, dads at any school can take part by showing up with their child on Monday -- and staying involved afterward.