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Awake58: North Carolina’s future might depend on you

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Monday, November 12, 2018. Click here to subscribe. 

North Carolina’s future might depend on you

Hi, y’all. This week we are going to focus on bright spots across North Carolina who have inspired us and hold lessons for us all… We also preview some themes from the myFutureNC listening sessions as we explore educational attainment…

The economy is changing rapidly as the world becomes more connected and automation has increasingly taken hold in industry after industry. As the world changes, the importance of either a degree or a high-quality credential will continue to grow.

Throughout the year, the myFutureNC Commission has held listening sessions across North Carolina to explore local and regional approaches aimed at boosting educational attainment. According to the Commission, estimates show that two of every three new jobs will require some form of postsecondary education.

At each listening session, we were exposed to programs and ideas which are making a difference locally, and in many cases these programs offered an example of how communities might respond to the forces at play.

ncIMPACT at the UNC School of Government and EdNC partnered together to showcase some of these innovations in our new Bright Spots series.

I would encourage you to spend some time with the project as we seek to lift up examples of innovative work happening across our state.

We unveiled the work through a myFutureNC webinar, which you can now access on YouTube by clicking here.

In addition, each of the 10 bright spots are highlighted through a comprehensive case study authored by our friends at ncIMPACT. I would encourage you to spend some time reading through them.

And, finally, we are rolling out a video profile of each of the bright spots between now and Thanksgiving. Some of the initial bright spots are linked below. The remainder will be published on our site. You can find them by clicking here.

The webinar explains the bright spot profiles are organized by the themes of the myFutureNCCommission’s recommendations:

Access to opportunity


System alignment


Coordination and accountability

Spend some time with each of the profiles. Dig in to the case studies. Watch the videos. Let us know what you think.

But more importantly – let us know about innovations in your local area by replying to this email. I am interested to know about other work which may offer examples of individuals and programs which are successfully tackling the themes myFutureNC has identified this year.

I believe deeply that the solutions and opportunities which will transform our state are going to be rooted in local ingenuity and community. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,


EdNC Reads

Bright Spots: Strategic Twin Counties Education Partnership (STEP)

STEP is the Strategic Twin Counties Education Partnership that exists between Edgecombe and Nash counties. This partnership is working to connect students to the careers which exist in their area in an effort to combat the perception that there are “no good jobs here.” The STEP project begins with a #WorkHere media effort, connects students to mentors and industry opportunities, and hopes to ultimately build a pipeline to good paying jobs which are coming to the counties now and in the future.

Bright Spots: Project SECURE at Wake Tech

Wake Technical Community College will train 450 people for information technology (IT) jobs through Project SECURE. To qualify for Project SECURE grant funding, a person must be between the ages of 17 and 29, out of secondary school, be unemployed or underemployed, and have no education or work experience in cybersecurity. This is a strong example of demand driven curriculum which is being shaped by industry partners.

Bright Spots: Wilson Youth Master Plan

In 2014, community leaders in Wilson County developed and launched a master plan focused on improving life outcomes for local youth. The plan kicked off with a look at the overall landscape of Wilson County and identified five key areas for improvement. One key success story so far is the Gentleman’s Agreement. Check out the video for more.

Bright Spots: Gold Rush Grant at UNC Charlotte

North Carolina has more than 900,000 residents who have completed some college, but have not received a degree or a high quality credential. UNC-Charlotte decided to take a deeper look at their students who were stopping out and found that 74 percent of the students who stopped out were leaving UNC-Charlotte due to financial difficulties. Enter Project Gold Rush.

All in a day: A tour of Cleveland Community College

Data centers are mission critical to the companies they serve. They are also becoming increasingly important to areas across North Carolina including Cleveland County. Yasmin Bendaas visited Cleveland Community College where she learned more about their range of programs from training students to work at data centers to advanced manufacturing to their production studio.


Worth a click

Bright spots: Innovative efforts to accelerate attainment

The myFutureNC Commission has gathered all ten community profiles for our bright spots. They also have a number of other resources you might wish to explore around demographics, educational attainment, and other pressing issues.

Report: Policy Strategies for Pursuing Adequate Funding of Community Colleges

This is a key point from the report: “‘Adequate funding’ may not have bumper sticker appeal. But the idea is simple and compelling: To help restore social mobility in America, policymakers must provide community colleges the resources necessary to successfully educate the country’s aspiring middle class.

By the numbers: Educational Attainment

60% attainment

The Lumina Foundation set a goal of 60% degree attainment in the United States (degree, certificate, or high-quality credential) by 2025.

40 counties increasing

From 2005-2009 to 2010-2014, 40 North Carolina counties saw a significant increase in residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

9 states without a goal

In 2017, North Carolina was one of 9 states that did not have an educational attainment goal set. Efforts to create a goal are underway.


Perspectives needed

Do you have a story to share about a bright spot in your local community? 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.

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.