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Awake58: Looking ahead at 2019 and the impacts of the government shutdown.

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Monday, January 14, 2019. Click here to subscribe. 

Looking ahead at 2019 and the impacts of the government shutdown.

The North Carolina General Assembly is coming back and we spoke with Peter Hans about legislative priorities… My colleague Rupen did some digging into the impacts of the government shutdown on community colleges… ICYMI, we did a deep dive on early colleges last week.

Welcome to the first Awake58 of 2019! If you were forwarded this email from a friend, click here to subscribe. And if you know of anyone who would like to receive the newsletter, please forward this on. We welcome new members of this growing community!

I hope your holidays proved restful and 2019 is off to a great start. I am grateful you welcomed us into your inboxes in 2019. I look forward to another year spent researching pressing issues, telling your stories, and traveling to your campuses.

EdNC will be previewing the legislative session this week. Stay tuned for our deep dive, but you can expect to see attempts to refine the Residency Determination Service, a push to fully fund short-term workforce training, and more.

Ahead of our deep dive this week, my colleague Alex sat down with President Peter Hans to gain his views on the upcoming legislative session and the priorities for the NC Community College system. It is worth a listen. You may find it on our website or via iTunes.

I would love to know what you believe are the most pressing issues facing our higher education sector and your community. We are going to launch a special project called The People’s Session to understand your agenda for the upcoming legislative session. Please sign up to participate by clicking here.

We also spotlighted early colleges last week. Given the growing importance of early college to North Carolinians across the state, it is worth spending time on the entire series by EdNC’s Liz Bell. Molly Osborne also took a look at the P-TECH model you will likely hear a lot more about soon.

Welcome back to Awake58! As always, I am eager for your feedback. Just reply directly to this email with any thoughts or suggestions.

All the best,



EdNC Reads

myFutureNC: Community engagement — Supporting a postsecondary attainment goal

We had the pleasure of traveling the state as part of the myFutureNC Commission last year. The Hunt Institute asked us to take a look at local efforts where communities are deeply engaging in education collaborations.

EdNC turns four: You are our greater, North Carolina

As we celebrate our fourth anniversary, our CEO Mebane states we are in the hope business. She declares, “Why hope? Because our students deserve it, our teachers still have it, and the people and the places of our state yearn for it. We believe the future doesn’t just happen to us. We have agency in shaping it. And that’s where you come in.”

James Sprunt Community College remains committed to Dallas Herring’s mission

Robert Kinlaw traveled to James Sprunt this fall and found a college committed to Dallas Herring’s mission. He also found out Dr. Ken Boham is a storyteller who believes in the open door mission of North Carolina’s community colleges.

Life after Hurricane Florence in the eyes of James Sprunt student Jacob Cavenaugh

One of the more moving moments in recent memory for me was visiting with James Sprunt students who were impacted by Hurricane Florence. The stories were telling reminders of the reality of life after a natural disaster when the news media moves on.


What we’re reading

Education Matters: One-on-One with NC Community College System President Peter Hans

Keith Poston and Education Matters spoke with President Hans this week. They highlight  opportunities and challenges for community colleges and education overall. He also addresses his overall goals for 2019.

Spellings: At UNC, ‘the best is yet to come’

As Margaret Spellings departs, she closes on an optimistic note.

Does higher education still prepare people for jobs?

The authors spoke to something we’ve seen at many of our community colleges around the state when they wrote, “Universities could substantially increase the value of the college degree if they spent more time teaching their students critical soft skills.” If you have examples to share related to soft skill development with your local community college, send it our way by replying directly to this email.

Millions of college students are going hungry

Sara Goldrick-Rab told The Atlantic after a newly released GAO report which shows, “that food insecurity is a college-completion issue. We’re undermining our federal investment in financial aid by not paying attention to this. We have to stop pretending like living expenses are not educational expenses.”

Nondegree Credentials, Work-Based Learning, and the American Working Class

Every Friday, we send out Friday@Five which spotlights key policy reports. You may subscribe to the newsletter by clicking here. In the latest Fri@Five, we spotlighted this new AEI report that examines adults who have some form of non-degree attainment — either a professional license, apprenticeship, postsecondary certificate, work-based experience, or industry certification — and how it subsequently impacts their income levels.


The impact of the shutdown on North Carolina students

My colleague Rupen Fofaria did some digging into the impact of the shutdown on students after a few of you reached out. Rupen found the following:

As the partial government shutdown trudges on, some aspiring community college students in North Carolina (and nationwide) are feeling the impact. While the Department of Education has not been impacted by the shutdown and students can continue to submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms, if further verification is required some students have been struggling with where to go.

Upon submitting a FAFSA application, some applicants are flagged and asked to verify responses with documents. Among a common verification request: Tax filings. However, the IRS is impacted by the shutdown, and community college applicants have reported some struggles obtaining the required verification documents.

“We have no way of knowing how many students we’re talking about at this point,” said Brian Long, Executive Director for Public Affairs at the NC Community College System. “It’s a subset of applicants who were required to verify information and who either didn’t verify before the shutdown or don’t have the documents with them.”

Among the documents students were having difficulty obtaining:

  • Filed tax returns from the IRS
  • Non-tax filing statements from the IRS
  • Selective Service documentation

Not all government agencies have addressed the difficulties these students may be facing, but the Department of Education has. It issued a release allowing for alternative documentation during the shutdown – such as signed copies of tax filings or signed statements from non-filers stating in good-faith that they did not file or were not required to file a tax form.


Your perspective is needed

We need your voice to tell the stories of our state’s 58 community colleges. We are now accepting first-person perspectives from anyone who wants to lift up their voice. To learn more about submitting an article, click here. If you respond to this email, I am happy to help you think about how to frame your perspective and story.



EducationNC ( works to expand educational opportunities for all children in North Carolina, and increase their academic attainment. We believe a more informed, connected, and engaged North Carolina is a better North Carolina. Our work takes many forms including storytelling, research, data, and community engagement. Thank you so much for joining us in the conversation around our students, our state, and our future. If you wish to donate to support our work, please do so by clicking here.


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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.