Created as a result of collaborative efforts of local business and not-for-profit leaders, Project Impact is a community initiative to provide additional operating funds to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to address critical student achievement gaps and improve third-grade reading and math proficiency scores. Project Impact has two overarching goals:
- Improve third-grade reading and math proficiency beginning with pre-kindergarten programs
- Close literacy gaps among subgroups within Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, as well as compared to other North Carolina urban school districts
Focus areas include intensive early intervention among at-risk groups and lower-performing schools. Project Impact is funding programs to be evaluated during six years, to enable designated local public schools to implement programs and measure their effectiveness. The initiative currently has commitments of approximately $25 million toward its $45 million goal.
The first initiatives funded by Project Impact launched during the 2016–17 school year, and three additional projects will receive support during the 2017-18 school year.
There are approximately 1,200 financially disadvantaged children in Forsyth County who are eligible for pre-k but who are not currently served. Project Impact has helped to narrow that gap. Beyond expansion of pre-K programs, Project Impact provides funding for other school system needs, including extended learning options (maximizing the number of students served by summer and extended day or year programs) and instructional support (including a Leadership Academy for prospective and current administrators, as well as coaches and expanded reading support for high-poverty schools).