You may have heard the term “Title 1”, but did you know that last year 77 CMS schools qualified for this designation? Title 1 schools are schools with a high concentration of students in low-income families.

Officially, a Title 1 school has an identified student percentage that is at least 39.4 percent. But many schools have a much higher percentage of students facing economic challenges.

We may not notice these schools if our own children don’t attend them, yet these school communities contribute so much to our city’s children.

Let’s look at some ways to support these teachers and students.

Everyday shopping

We’ve all heard of this one: link your Harris Teeter VIC card to a Title 1 school and then buy HT-brand items. The school will get a percentage of the purchase price. (Linking your card at the register is fast if you have the school’s number handy.)

If you shop at Publix, you can get a small key-ring card from a school like Rama Road Elementary, and Publix will donate a portion of your purchase price. You must present the card each time you shop.

You can go old-school and collect Box-Tops for Education when you buy items from brands such as Annie’s, Chex, Totino’s, and Ziploc. You can even get family members in other states to mail them to a Charlotte school! Just be sure to turn them in before the expiration date, and the school will receive $0.10 per box-top.

Online shopping

When you shop at Amazon, take the extra step with AmazonSmile and choose a participating Title 1 school, such as Billingsville Elementary, Hornet’s Nest Elementary, or West Charlotte High School. AmazonSmile will donate 0.5 percent of your purchase price to the school, at no additional cost to you.


Jennifer Aycock, kindergarten and 1st-grade teacher at Rama Road Elementary, said, “Time is huge.”

Children can make academic leaps by spending some one-on-one time with an adult, perhaps reading with them in the school’s library. 

Contact the school directly to arrange your volunteer hours. You can sign up at the CMS website, select your favorite Title 1 school, and then you will be notified via email when a volunteer opportunity arises at that school. 

Food donations

Lisa Lackey, Media Specialist at Windsor Park Elementary, said, “Food is something our families need, especially during school holidays, weekends and during the summer months. Many of our families are hungry. Also, toiletries such as toothbrushes, deodorant, and lotion.”

Contact the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools Foundation at 980-343-6618 to discuss the individual needs of schools.

School Supply Donations

Some schools need new and gently-used uniform items, such as child-sized polo shirts and khaki pants. Having clean clothes available can make a child feel good about a new school day.

Stock up on school supplies now and donate the items to your favorite school in January when the cupboard starts to look bare. Most schools will accept supplies anytime, but it’s good to check with the school first.

Pick up (or re-gift) some gift cards to cover these needs. You can find things to donate through local non-profit Classroom Central, which helps with school supplies for high-needs students, or Donors Choose.

You can fund some djembe drums for a music teacher, help a classroom get some new group tables, or put a microscope in the hands of the next Marie Curie. Donors usually receive an update with photos of the students using the funded items, so you’re really making yourself happier while you help local students.

Photo Credit: Mary McDonough

This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.