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Community colleges and the budget: Pay increases, capital investments, and cybersecurity

A note from us

Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58. We appreciate you allowing us into your inbox. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

EdNC published an in-depth analysis of the budget…myFutureNC’s new Opportunity Youth Network seeks to reengage and prevent disconnected youth…NCBCE highlights innovative work-based learning programs…new Trailblazer Profiles feature Dr. Michael Elam and Dr. Ervin Griffin…

Good morning all,

This is Molly Osborne, EdNC’s news and policy director, and Emily Thomas, EdNC’s policy analyst, taking over Awake58 this week while Nation is on the road. This will be our last Awake58 before the holidays, as the EdNC team is taking a break from Dec. 18 to Jan. 2. We are grateful to all of you for reading Awake58 and EdNC and welcoming us on your campuses across the state.

Thank you also to everyone who completed our impact survey this year. We had more than 1,500 people participate in the survey. Your responses will inform our work moving forward.

We have three big stories for you to check out this week. The first is an in-depth budget analysis from Emily. She looked at everything from employee salary increases to cybersecurity to capital funding and reached out to system and college leaders for their take on this budget.

“As a system, we’re very pleased with the General Assembly’s tremendous investment in North Carolina’s community colleges,” said Dr. Mark Poarch, president of Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (CCC&TI) and president of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents (NCACCP). “In my 30-year career, I’ve never seen an investment of this magnitude.”

In addition to the 5% raise for community college employees over the next two years, full-time state and local education employees will receive a one-time bonus of $1,500 for those making under $75,000 a year and $1,000 for those making more than $75,000 annually.

The budget also provides funds to raise the minimum wage of state-funded employees to $13 an hour in the first year of the biennium and $15 an hour in the second year.

“It was needed financially, especially with the current inflation rates that are going up, but it was also needed psychologically. Our employees felt valued for the first time in years,” said David Shockley, president of Surry Community College. “And while I’m very grateful for that, I look forward to working with the General Assembly in the future to get North Carolina Community College System salaries into the top quartile of the nation.”

Read Emily’s full budget analysis here.

We also published stories on two different events last week that showcased innovative programs across the state. Emily reported on myFutureNC’s December meeting of the Opportunity Youth Network that launched in fall 2021.

Opportunity youth are categorized as individuals between the ages of 16-24 who are neither in school nor working full-or part-time. The meeting showcased two programs aimed at preventing and reengaging opportunity youth, one of which is Tri-County Community College’s Adult High School. Read more about the network and the two programs here, and read more about opportunity youth in this guide from Carolina Demography.

The second story features innovative work-based learning programs that were spotlighted during the N.C. Business Committee for Education’s annual meeting last Thursday. From building their own “geek squad” in Halifax County Schools to youth apprenticeship programs in Surry and McDowell, the hour and a half meeting featured several programs at community colleges across the state. Read the full story here.

Thank you for reading Awake58 this week and this year. We look forward to seeing you on the road in the new year. In the meantime, if you have story ideas, tips, or thoughts you wish to share, just reply directly to this email.

We’ll see you in the new year,

Molly Osborne and Emily Thomas

EdNC reads

Community colleges and the budget: Pay increases, capital investments, and cybersecurity

Almost one month has passed since Gov. Roy Cooper signed the state budget into law. How did community colleges fare? EdNC dove in, providing our readers with an in-depth analysis of the budget.

The net appropriation for the North Carolina Community College System is more than $1.3 billion in each year of the biennium. That’s $1.31 billion for 2021-22 and $1.34 billion for 2022-23. It’s the largest budget the system has received in the past decade.

Long-awaited, community college personnel are getting raises. The budget allocates a 2.5% increase in the first year of the biennium and another 2.5% in the second year. Full-time employees are also getting a one-time bonus. The budget also allocates funding for minimum wage increases.

While leaders across the system have praised the General Assembly’s investment in North Carolina’s community colleges, most agree there is still work to be done when it comes to employee salaries.

More highlights from the budget include nearly $80 million in budget stabilization funds, over $20 million to recruit and retain faculty, almost $495 million in state capital and infrastructure funds, funds to hire regional cybersecurity officers, adult learner pilot money, and more.

Click here for more

A myFutureNC collaborative to reengage and prevent disconnected youth

More than 7% of youth in North Carolina were disconnected prior to the pandemic. Data suggests that number could more than triple as a result of the pandemic.

In early 2020, myFutureNC created a dashboard to show the state’s progress in meeting its educational attainment goal. There are 18 performance indicators on the dashboard. One of those indicators is opportunity youth.

Opportunity youth are categorized as individuals between the ages of 16-24 who are neither in school nor working full-or part-time.

In fall 2021, myFutureNC launched the Opportunity Youth Network, a statewide collaborative for communities to address the growing concern of disconnected youth, or those who are neither in school nor working full- or part-time.

Fifty-three counties are part of the Opportunity Youth Network. They meet regularly to learn and share effective practices to reengage opportunity youth and to prevent youth from becoming disconnected.

EdNC tuned in to the network’s second webinar where individuals from the Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation in Rutherford County and Tri-County Community College’s Adult High School program shared insights and ways they are connecting with opportunity youth.

Read more about the Network and webinar here.

N.C. Business Committee for Education celebrates work-based learning programs

Tech teams, early childhood education certificates, and a fast-track to nursing — these are just some of the programs that took the spotlight at the North Carolina Business Committee for Education’s (NCBCE) annual meeting. This year, the event highlighted successful work-based learning programs in schools across the state.

Gov. Roy Cooper said work-based learning not only helps students experiment with what they want to do for their career but also helps businesses develop a future workforce.

“Sometimes young people think they may or may not want a job, but they really don’t know what it’s like,” he said. “Work-based learning allows you as a student to go and give it a shot.”

Here’s a look at some of the featured programs.

Around NC

Two new Trailblazer Profiles from the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research tell the stories of the current and former presidents of Halifax Community College, Dr. Michael Elam and Dr. Ervin Griffin. You can find all the Trailblazer Profiles here.

Congratulations to the recent winners of the Small Business Center Network’s Centers of Excellence Awards. See the award winners here.

Registration is open for ApprenticeshipNC’s annual conference on March 15-16, 2022 in Wilmington. See more details and register here.

The 2022 Emerging Issues Forum will focus on our state’s attainment goal. Registration is open now. Visit IEI’s website for more details.

MyFutureNC is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 14th at 1 p.m. “to discuss Supporting Students in Navigating Trauma, Grief, and Stress and the Impact on the College-Going Process.” To RSVP, click here.

Blue Ridge Community College is looking for a new marketing director. See the job description here, and feel free to send us other job postings.

From Forsyth Tech: “Forsyth Technical Community College will hold an aviation technology career preview night for anyone interested in the rapidly expanding area of aviation technology and mechanics. Attendees will be able to discuss career pathways with advisors and hear from leading experts in the field. The brand-new Mazie S. Woodruff Aviation Technology Lab at Smith Reynolds Airport will welcome its first cohort of students in January 2022 and spaces are filling up fast. Students interested in this career which is in high demand and has exception earning potential should visit to RSVP for this event.”

According to a press release, Cape Fear Community College received a $75,000 Lumina Foundation and Achieving the Dream grant that
will help CFCC increase enrollment of adult learners of color in the Truck Driver Training program.

“Through the PACCE grant and support from Lumina Foundation and Achieving the Dream, CFCC can optimize its efforts to reach adult learners where they are and help them achieve their career goals,” said CFCC President Jim Morton. “We are grateful for this investment and look forward to putting the funds to use. CFCC faculty and staff are dedicated to providing beneficial opportunities that promote the success and well-being of our community.”

Wake Tech broke ground last week on their seventh campus, a 106-acre site in Wendell in eastern Wake County. According to a press release, the campus will feature a central energy plant, a public safety simulation complex, and “networked integrated teaching labs to support biopharmaceutical technology, intelligent automation, robotics, smart manufacturing, microelectronics and UAS operations and repair.”

Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week for the Paul H. Broyhill Center for Advanced Technologies. CCC&TI president Mark Poarch called it, “A building that will be home to state of the art programs, leading to some of the best jobs in our community. A building that will be transformational and change the lives of students, setting them on the path to a better future for many years to come.” See Emily Thomas’ Twitter thread from the ceremony.

The Shelby Star published a feature on 2021 President of the Year Jason Hurst, president of Cleveland Community College.

A mentoring and job preparation program called the Give Back Careers Program is starting in fall 2022 in Onslow County. CEO Bob Carr says they want to work with Coastal Carolina Community College and the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Read more here.

In case you missed it, Toyota announced a new battery manufacturing plant at Greensboro-Randolph Megasite. This WFMY article looks at plans to train Toyota workers from Randolph Community College and Guilford Tech.

Other higher education reads

UNC’s $97 Million Plan to Reach Adult Online Learners

Inside Higher Ed published an in-depth look at the plans behind UNC’s project Kitty Hawk, a nonprofit ed-tech start-up intended to bolster adult online education:

“The working papers depict a system with a uniquely ambitious vision for Kitty Hawk, which they say will provide ‘end-to-end support to help universities rapidly design and take workforce-aligned programs online as well as attract, enroll and support learners through graduation.’ Kitty Hawk will rely on ‘a central technology and service infrastructure’ to help UNC campuses reach working adults, in part, the working papers say, because it will be ‘less expensive than the traditional approach of more buildings, more personnel, and more programs … or [campuses] doing it themselves.’

NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues also recently released this podcast episode about project Kitty Hawk.

Workforce Development Should Focus More on Fixing Work

This commentary from the Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity argues that the real problem with the current labor market is not a shortage of qualified workers but a shortage of quality jobs. The authors propose steps workforce organizations should take to reduce inequity and improve job quality.

A surprising reason keeping students from finishing college: A lack of transportation

This Hechinger Report story looks at the barriers posed by a lack of transportation for community college students.

“Transportation barriers disproportionately affect low-income students and Black, Hispanic, Native American and some Asian students. Hispanic students were 19 percent more likely to report transportation problems as creating a barrier to college completion than non-Hispanics, according to a study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UnidosUS.”

Molly Osborne Urquhart

Molly Osborne is the vice president and Chief Operating Officer for EducationNC.