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AdvanceNC will 'push the envelope' for collaboration

A note from us

Hi, Nation here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed our last newsletter featuring three new perspectives, you can find it on our website.

AdvanceNC promises to “push the envelope” for workforce development through regional collaboration… The Belk Center’s AJ Jaeger looks at who isn’t “making the jump” with community college transfers… A preview of the 2023 Dallas Herring lecture… Plus, a look at the state budget’s provision for a three-year graduation track…

Several Awake58 readers have flagged their questions regarding the new three-year graduation track in the state budget. Hannah covered the State Board of Education meeting last week, where the three-year track was discussed:

The new budget also requires the State Board of Education to create a three-year graduation track for high school students by Nov. 1. That track will consist of 22 credits, and must receive parental consent.

The budget currently states that “local boards of education shall offer a sequence of courses in accordance” with that minimum requirement. Many schools already allow early graduation pathways for some students, but most schools typically require 28 credits for graduation.

Many education leaders worried the budget’s provision would prevent them from requiring more than 22 credits for any students.

“That of course, caused a lot of outcry from our school districts,” said Sneha Shah-Coltrane, director of advanced learning and gifted education at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). “As a result, we are very grateful that we are working with the General Assembly on some technical corrections, to be able to move forward with a reasonable, different approach.”

In anticipation of such technical corrections, the Board discussed an amendment regarding early graduations. That policy will come to the Board for approval next month, pending the corrections.

The proposed amendment, “Authority for Local School Boards to Exceed Minimum Graduation Requirements,” outlines a process for students who wish to graduate after three years to “request that local board waive the additional local requirements.”

The student must complete and sign a waiver from the local board. That waiver must also be signed by the student’s parent or legal guardian, unless the student is 18 years or older, or has been emancipated. An administrator from the student’s high school must also then meet with the student and their parent “to discuss the implications of graduating in three years.”

For more details on the three-year graduation track — including a potential scholarship for those students — Hannah’s recap is on now.

I also wanted to flag that our recent article from Hannah on rural community colleges — and the resources they need moving forward — continues to attract readers and buzz on LinkedIn. I noticed Isothermal Community College President Dr. Margaret Annunziata’s quote being shared widely: “As a rural college, I will tell you that there are some significant benefits to being in a rural community. But the challenges are very real and they do look different.”

SmartAsset released their annual ranking of the top community colleges in the country — and North Carolina had nine community colleges place in the top 25!

According to SmartAsset: “North Carolina is home to nine of the top 25 community colleges. In fact, the state is home to five schools ranked in the top 10, including the top three colleges – Southeastern Community College, Stanly Community College and Edgecombe Community College.”

Here are the other six colleges spotlighted from our state: Sandhills Community College, Durham Technical Community College, Piedmont Community College, Pamlico Community College, McDowell Technical Community College, and Brunswick Community College. Wilkes Community College placed just outside of the top 25 as well.

We know many rankings exist — but we did want to spotlight this recent recognition.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth –

EdNC reads

North Carolina colleges collaborate to boost employment in the manufacturing sector

Bolstering regional collaboration between community colleges is part of the system’s new strategic plan. The topic of enhancing regional ties between community colleges has also provoked a lot of interest as the conversation unfolds around exploring a new funding formula for the system ahead of the next legislative session.

One key driver has been significant economic development announcements from companies like Toyota and Vinfast arriving in North Carolina. The recently announced AdvanceNC is one example:

Recently, six large companies announced plans to set up shop in North Carolina within the next few years. Among those includes Vinfast, a Vietnamese car manufacturer, and Toyota, which is planning to employ thousands of people to get more electric vehicles on the road. Wolfspeed, a silicon car chip plant, and Boom Supersonic also plan to hire in Durham and Greensboro to work on technology for electric vehicles and superspeed aircrafts.

What the partners of AdvanceNC described as the “unprecedented growth” to the state’s economy and manufacturing sector is met with a pool of  1.5 million potential employees shared by the 18 counties the collective covers. Their organization joins the charge to have two million North Carolinians possess a credential or a degree by 2030.

Rodney Carson, president of the North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards, believes that the solution is finding new ways to develop workers, something North Carolina has done before.

“I think about how we pushed the envelope when it comes to workforce development,” Carson said. “AdvanceNC does exactly that. We continue to push the envelope on what workforce and the workforce ecosystem is in North Carolina. We were, 27 years ago, the shining example of what workforce development is in this country as a whole. AdvanceNC pushes that envelope even further and continues to push us out to the edge of what it means to truly take care of our citizens.”

The remainder of Chantal’s article on AdvanceNC includes an explanation on the participating colleges and the partnership’s focus on clean energy.

Perspective | A case for community college transfer: Who isn’t making the jump?

AJ Jaeger’s series on college transfers continues this week with an overview on “who isn’t making the jump” from two-year to four-year institutions. The perspective also includes some recommendations on how institutions could help these students:

What if more institutions provided a guaranteed transfer pathway for students starting community college? Transfers pay community college tuition for the first two years of a 4-year education. They access an online platform that shows exactly which course credits will transfer in their field of interest at a given college. And after crossing the graduation stage to receive that associate degree, a 4-year campus is waiting for them.

Guaranteed admissions programs have existed in pockets, including here at NC State. But now they are becoming a regular presence in our higher education landscape. Just last month, Beaufort Community College announced students who complete an associate degree in business administration are automatically admitted to East Carolina University. Farther west, Guilford Tech Community College manages two co-admissions programs with North Carolina A&T University and University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Guilford Tech students engage with 4-year advisors right away to minimize credit loss, participate in co-curricular programs and on-campus events, and are eligible for additional scholarship opportunities.

Four-year institutions cannot just focus on increasing transfer enrollment. Too few North Carolinians who transfer do not earn a bachelor’s degree, especially those from lower-income backgrounds and underserved communities. These disparities suggest colleges must also invest in supports and services that students need to thrive.

North Carolina educators and leaders must monitor disaggregated student transfer rates, GPA, and graduation rates to identify which have the most impact — and for whom. They should also consider qualitative indicators of the student experience.

Ask: do community college students feel a sense of belonging? Are they aware of and/or regularly using support services on campus? Do they feel supported by their advisors?

AJ’s full set of recommendations can be found on our website.

Prince George’s County Community College president named 2023 Dallas Herring keynote speaker

The 2023 Dallas Herring Lecture will feature Falecia D. Williams, president of Prince George’s Community College, as the event’s keynote speaker.

At the event on Nov. 14, community college leaders and educators from around the country will have the opportunity to talk about strategies to address top issues concerning institutions, such as the enrollment boom and evolving structures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Education leaders are navigating dynamic times that require bold and even daring strategies to ensure student academic achievement. Forward momentum is the product of innovative thinking and agility. As educators, we have a unique opportunity to take action and move toward extraordinary change in our communities and our world,” Williams said.

Held by the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, the annual lecture is named after the late William Dallas Herring, an educator, manufacturer, businessman, and founder of the North Carolina Community College System.

This year will mark the lecture’s ninth year since its inception. Attendees can look forward to Williams’ comments on her experience leading what is considered the top choice for higher education for residents of Prince George’s county. Her institution has been able to secure partnerships supporting student success from the Community College Growth Engine Fund, American Heart Association, Cloudforce, Bank of America, pepco, and Luminus Health.

You can read more details on our website. You can also sign up for the event through the Belk Center’s website.

Around NC

CAREER ALERT | The Belk Center is hiring for the position of Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships and External Relations. You may find the application on the NC State careers website.

University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Board of Trustees Chair Kimberly Gatling announced last week the formation of a 13-member committee to launch the search for the next chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University. Chancellor Harold L. Martin, Sr. announced his retirement Sept. 22 after 14 years of leading the institution. Martin will remain in office through the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

Vicky Wesner is the 2023-2024 Central Carolina Community College Faculty Member of the Year, according to a release from the college. She serves as CCCC’s College Dental Hygiene and Assisting Department Chair. Congratulations Vicky! We try to spotlight as many of these faculty awards across the system as we can — so please continue to send them our way.

Brunswick Community College celebrated their donors last week. According to a release from the college: “This fall alone, donor support resulted in more than $240,000 in scholarships to 208 students.”

Fayetteville Technical Community College recently announced a $500,000 award from GoldenLEAF for: “construction-related costs for a driving pad at a planned Regional Supply Chain Transport Complex in western Cumberland County. The 600- by 900-foot driving pad, which will include a shifting track and a skid area, will permit multiple tractor trailers to operate at once, greatly expanding the training capabilities of FTCC and two strategic partners in the project, Bladen Community College and Robeson Community College.”

Forsyth Technical Community Colleges’s Advanced Manufacturing Program celebrated National Manufacturing Day last Friday to showcase academic and career pathways to prospective students and partners. FTCC President Dr. Janet Spriggs was also named a “Power Player,” by the Triad Business Journal, for the third time.

McDowell Technical Community College was one of many community colleges which received capital allocations in the state budget. The college recently noted the state investment in a press release. The college will need additional funding for its health science and public safety building. When the building is completed it will increase the number of health care workers the college can graduate, according to their release “Expanding health science facilities will allow the college to increase the number of students in the associate degree and practical nursing education programs to a total of approximately 90 students per year,” the release says.

Southwestern Community College recently spotlighted their $20 million investment from the state budget. Half of the investment will fund an indoor firing range as part of their public safety program. According to the release, “The remaining $10 million will be used for expansion and renovation projects at SCC’s Jackson Campus in Sylva, starting with an addition to Oaks Hall.”

Piedmont Community College will offer a Taylor Swift course beginning in January 2024, WRAL reports. “I think we’re the first community college to teach a course on Taylor Swift,” said Dr. David Townsend, the Person County-based college’s dean of university transfer and general education. Townsend, a self-proclaimed “life-long Swiftie,” told WRAL he is looking forward to teaching the humanities course in addition to his administrative responsibilities.

Other higher education reads

How one college is locking in financial aid early to offset FAFSA delay.

The “new” FAFSA will come out sometime in the months ahead, but the wait has delayed the financial aid process for families. One college has a novel solution, highlighted in a recent Higher Ed Dive report.

One college has developed a solution, just for this year, that it said will help students and families circumvent some of the uncertainty.

Assumption University, a Roman Catholic institution in Massachusetts, will lock in applicants’ need- and merit-based financial aid awards immediately when they’re accepted, as early as October.

This is much earlier than at most colleges, which often distribute financial aid offers in the spring, around or shortly after admittance letters go out.

Assumption can accomplish this because it’s relying on its own questionnaire, one even shorter than the new FAFSA, to determine award amounts. Those will be guaranteed, so long as the information that families provide is accurate.

To learn more about Assumption’s process, Higher Ed Dive has the feature on their website.

Young Americans are struggling to gain economic ground. Building a better school-to-career pipeline can help.

You’ve seen us lift up a lot of coverage around income inequality, high school graduation rates, and high-quality credentials in recent months. Brookings has some new data and research out you should spend time with when you have a moment.

People with less than a high school diploma or only a high school diploma have a harder time finding work than those with higher levels of education—and the work they find doesn’t usually pay very well. Unemployment among adults with a high school diploma or less is often two to three times higher than for people with bachelor’s degrees. Meanwhile, when adjusted for inflation, median wages for workers with a high school diploma or less fell by 11% between 1979 and 2019, while they rose by 15% for workers with a bachelor’s degree or more. This one statistic explains a lot about how educational attainment is intertwined with inequality in America.

The full data and research is on Brookings website.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.