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Gov. Cooper declares April 2021 First in FAFSA Month; updates from the State Board

A note from Nation

Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58! If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

Updates from the State Board of Community Colleges meeting last week… Gov. Cooper declares April 2021 First in FAFSA Month… The House approved two K-12 calendar flexibility bills last week… A new podcast with a CPCC employee-turned-student…

Good morning, everyone. Molly Osborne and Emily Thomas here, taking over Awake58 this week while Nation is on vacation.

The State Board of Community Colleges met last week and heard an update on the NC Workforce Credentials initiative. A partnership between the North Carolina Community College System, the Department of Commerce, the NCWorks Commission, the Department of Public Instruction, myFutureNC, and the governor’s office, this effort is working to identify non-degree credentials that lead to in-demand, high-skill, high-wage occupations.

System leaders hope that the NC Workforce Credentials initiative, combined with GEER (Governor’s Emergency Education Relief) funding for workforce training scholarships, will help with both the short-term economic recovery and long-term success of the state’s attainment goal of 2 million by 2030. Read the rest of Emily’s reporting on the State Board meeting here.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared April 2021 First in FAFSA Month, stating in a press release, “With the majority of jobs now requiring education after high school, we want our North Carolina students to know financial support is available to help them earn a postsecondary degree or certificate. I encourage all North Carolina high school seniors and their families to complete the FAFSA to see how much financial aid is available.”

Want to see how your local school district(s) are doing with FAFSA completion? Visit myFutureNC’s First in FAFSA tracker to see FAFSA completion rates by school in your service area. A number of community colleges are hosting drive-in events to help students complete the FAFSA on April 24. EdNC’s Analisa Sorrells will be covering the drive-in events at Wake Technical Community College. Find locations along with instructions to participate here.

Kaidyn Radford, a former community college student and our media intern through the John M Belk Impact Fellowship, has released a new episode in his podcast “Beyond the Classroom: Voices from Community Colleges.” In this episode, Kaidyn talks with Tina Hardin, a cardiovascular technology student at Central Piedmont Community College. Tina is an adult learner who decided to go back to school after a career in counseling. In this interview, she discusses what it was like to go back to school later in life and how the community around her helped her succeed. Listen here.

In addition to listening to Kaidyn’s podcast, make sure you’re subscribed to our Awake58 podcast. We’re interviewing community college leaders, faculty, and students. You can find the show on AppleSpotifyAnchor, and anywhere else podcasts are available. If you subscribe on Apple, we would appreciate your rating and review. Thank you for helping us lift up the voices of our community colleges in North Carolina.

And finally, we are hiring a summer intern! EdNC is offering an eight-week, full-time paid journalism fellowship for the summer of 2021 starting in early June. If you know any students who are passionate about education, care about the state of North Carolina, are service-oriented, and are self starters, please send them this application.

Thanks for reading,

Molly and Emily


EdNC reads

State Board of Community Colleges | The importance of in-person learning next fall and an update on NC Workforce Credentials

The State Board of Community Colleges met Friday, April 16 and discussed the importance of reopening for in-person learning this fall. Kandi Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont Community College, said, “What we know is that our students across the state want to be in community. They want to be in community on their campuses.”

The Board approved a uniform articulation agreement between the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities’ and the North Carolina Community College System’s psychology and sociology programs. Members from the NC Workforce Credentials Council outlined the need for NC Workforce Credentials, the importance of GEER funding, and how both can help North Carolina reach its attainment goal by 2030.

The Board also heard about a new mental health first aid course, intended to develop competencies in identifying, understanding, and responding to signs of mental illness and substance use disorder. The course will be offered in the combined course library (CCL) and is available to community stakeholders, including public safety agencies.

Click here for more

Legislative roundup | School choice and calendar flexibility rule the week

Two calendar flexibility bills were approved by the full House last week and sent to the Senate. From EdNC’s Alex Granados:

House Bill 125 would let Cumberland County Schools, Franklin County Schools, Lenoir County Public Schools, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools, and Pitt County Schools decide on their own open and close dates for schools.

House Bill 201 would let Chatham County Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Elkin City Schools, Martin County Schools, Mt. Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools, and Union County Public Schools align their public school calendars with those of their local community colleges.

Calendar flexibility is a perennial issue at the legislature. Every year, several bills are filed but never make it to the governor’s desk. We’ll see if this year is any different. Read Alex’s latest legislative roundup for the story.

Click here for the story

Beyond the Classroom: Episode Three

In this episode, host Kaidyn Radford talks to Tina Hardin, a cardiovascular technology student at Central Piedmont Community College. Hardin is a non-traditional adult learner and a part of the Student Ambassadors program. In this interview, she discusses what it was like to go back to school later in life and how the community around her helped her succeed.

Click here to listen

EdNC is hiring a summer journalism fellow

EducationNC is offering an eight-week, full-time paid journalism fellowship for the summer of 2021 starting in early June. As part of this program, fellows will be integrated into our daily newsroom, have weekly professional development opportunities, and work toward a larger capstone project. We are looking for folks who are passionate about education, care about the state of North Carolina, are service-oriented, and are self starters.

This fellowship will be mostly remote with occasional in-person meetings and travel across North Carolina. If you know someone interested in being a part of our fellowship program, please send them this application.

The application period will close on April 28, 2021.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

Click here for the application

Around NC

College Advising Corps and myFutureNC hosted a College Access Town Hall virtual panel last Friday with panelists from UNC Charlotte, Durham Tech, College Foundation of North Carolina, College Advising Corps, Simple Gifts Fund, and a Duke University student. Panelists touched on several barriers to college access, including a lack of college advising, difficulty with the FAFSA and RDS application processes, and more. Here’s a Twitter thread recapping the panel.

myFutureNC president and CEO Cecilia Holden and Durham Tech president JB Buxton joined the Public School Forum’s Mary Ann Wolf for the April 17, 2021 broadcast of Education Matters. Read more here.

The Robesonian is out with an update on Robeson Community College’s new Simulation and Game Development (SGD) program. Students who complete the two-year program can go on to careers in game development, programming, designing, and 3D artistry.

The Davie County Enterprise Record published a story of a Davidson-Davie Community College student who was able to get her associate degree debt-free thanks to the Career and College Promise program and Davie County’s new Ignite Davie College Promise last-dollar scholarship program for Davie County high school graduates.

A recent article in Forbes spotlights a group of colleges and universities in North Carolina examining transfer credit efficiency in the state. “The institutions are studying the impact of credit awarded to community college students upon entry [and] graduation; the relationship between retention, persistence, and graduation rates; as well as data on success across the institutions to identify promising practices,” according to the article.

Three Democratic state senators have introduced a bill to give DACA recipients in-state tuition at UNC system schools and community colleges. WFAE has a story out on the bill, which you can read here. The article notes that similar bills were introduced in 2019 but didn’t go anywhere.


Other higher education reads

What If Students Didn’t Have to Leave Community Colleges to Earn Bachelor’s Degrees?

EdSurge looks at the growing movement to allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees:

“Nearly two dozen states permit so-called two-year colleges to offer four-year degrees,” writes author Rebecca Koenig. “And the pace of adoption is speeding up, with half a dozen states signing on since 2018, according to the Community College Baccalaureate Association.”

STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity

According to Pew Research Center, “Black and Hispanic adults are less likely to earn degrees in STEM than other degree fields, and they continue to make up a lower share of STEM graduates relative to their share of the adult population.”

Read more in this April report.

What to watch as interest grows in alternative paths to jobs

Open Campus’ April 15 newsletter looks at the rise of alternative pathways to jobs and features several expert takes as well as links to interesting reporting on the topic. Their key question in the newsletter is an important one to think about, especially in light of the NC Workforce Credentials initiative:

“The key question for this newsletter is whether alternative hiring models will open doors to well-paying and satisfying careers. Also, can workers get college credits for new forms of credentials? Or will this shift be more about credentialism and the tracking of Black, Latino, and lower-income learners into unstable, low-wage jobs?”

Molly Osborne Urquhart

Molly Osborne is the vice president and director of operations for EducationNC.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.