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Awake58: The stories and people behind the data

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Click here to subscribe. 

The stories and people behind the data

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We are continuing our deep dive on enrollment and funding, both interlocking and deeply important challenges for all 58 community colleges… Jennifer Haygood walks us through the state’s funding formula for the system… And we met Courtney Wolfe who represents an important story of a  first generation college student.

On Wednesday, my colleague Bryan and I are heading to visit Richmond Community College to learn more about their work to bolster enrollment over the past decade. Dr. McInnis shared some of his strategy in recent conversations, including adding full-time curriculum and faculty, boosting the attractiveness of the college to transfer students, and bolstering short-term workforce training options to match local economic needs. I encourage you to read the piece and follow us on Twitter for more details when we visit on Wednesday.

We couldn’t discuss enrollment without discussing the state’s complex funding formula. Jennifer Haygood took the time to educate us on the formula in this video,which provides some handy animations to illustrate key concepts.

I had the opportunity to speak with NC CORD (North Carolina Community College Resource Development) recently. I told those in attendance that core to our work is the ability to share the stories of North Carolinians throughout the educational continuum, because it is stories combined with data that helps people sort through complex issues. This week, we spotlighted first gen college student Courtney Wolfe.

Thank you so much for joining us each week and welcoming us in your inbox. Please let us know how we can improve. I’m listening.



EdNC Reads

(VIDEO) EdNC Explains: How does the state fund community colleges?

Jennifer Haygood walked us through the state’s funding formula for the community colleges — while also taking a look at other sources of funding. It is worth taking the two and a half minutes. Promise.

A look at Richmond Community College’s solutions to bolster enrollment

As I have gotten to know Dr. Dale McInnis of Richmond Community College in recent months, I have been eagerly learning more about the strategies RCC put in to place to grow enrollment from 42nd to 24th from 2010 to the present day without a correspondingly steep increase in population or steady decline in the local economy.

(VIDEO) Stories from the Education Pipeline: First-generation college student Courtney Wolfe 

Stories matter. As we discuss the education pipeline and educational attainment, I hope we consider the real people behind the data points. This week, Liz on our team profiles Courtney Wolfe. Courtney always aspired to go to college even though her parents did not earn a postsecondary degree. Check out her story.

(LISTEN) A podcast with Dr. Bob Templin discussing community college enrollment trends

Dr. Robert Templin, a professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Education, believes community colleges have an opportunity to target students who traditionally have not attended two-year institutions.

Governor releases budget proposal

The Governor’s budget proposal includes several proposals relevant to community colleges, including an expansion of Finish Line Grants, $3.9 billion in school construction, and a program dubbed NC GROW, which would allocate money to cover tuition and some fees for select students. Learn more in this article.

Superintendent Mark Johnson releases detailed budget ask

It is budget season. Superintendent Mark Johnson released a budget proposal, which includes funding requests for career coaches, SkillsUSA, and NC Grow.

(VIDEO) NC’s leaky education pipeline, explained

Many people in our state have not obtained a degree or high quality credential beyond high school. Ultimately this could present a big problem for the state’s workforce. If we think about the path to higher education as a pipeline, this video explains some of the “leaks” where students often fall out of their journey to a degree or credential.

EdExplainer: Community college enrollment

Y’all, I’ve felt like I have taken a MasterClass in community college enrollment this year. I am ever thankful for all of you who helped me better understand the formula. This explainer breaks it all down. Ellen describes the importance of the issue well, “Under the current funding formula, enrollment calculations and trends will remain at the forefront of policy and funding decisions. Understanding the external factors that affect enrollment and the internal ways in which the state calculates enrollment is therefore key to keeping community colleges open to all and a vital part of North Carolina’s economic growth.”

Community college enrollment challenges are a problem for communities and the state

My colleague Rupen looks at enrollment through the eyes of the most important data point of all — a student. In this piece you will meet Braelin Mizelle who told Rupen, “Looking back on Day 1, I didn’t know if I could do this… But they helped me, my advisors and teachers. And now I have a job offer, so I guess I did it. It was kind of unbelievable for a while.”

Enrollment challenges vary between urban and rural community colleges

The challenges, and solutions,  for enrollment vary across the state: “A strong economy and low unemployment typically means less interest or desire for educational opportunities. So while responses to dropping enrollment might vary across the state, the call to action is unanimous.”



EducationNC ( believes a more informed, connected, and engaged North Carolina is a better North Carolina. Thank you so much for joining us in the conversation around our students, our state, and our future. If you have any questions about our mission and vision, feel free to email me.


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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.