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Correction: It will take 67% of the state's projected population of adults between ages 25-44 to meet the attainment goal by 2030

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Welcome to Awake58 — EdNC’s newsletter focused on community colleges and the postsecondary landscape in North Carolina. We appreciate you allowing us into your inbox this week. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

CORRECTION: A previous edition of this newsletter incorrectly stated that it would take 67% of the state’s population to reach the attainment goal. It should have stated that it will take 67% of the state’s projected population of adults between the ages of 25-44 to reach the attainment goal. The corrected newsletter is below.

A recap from the 2022 IEI forum and N.C.’s progress toward its attainment goal…The State Board of Community Colleges will meet Feb. 17-18…The Belk Center for Community College Leadership & Research announced the Rural College Leaders Program…After Dr. Elam’ s passing, Halifax Community College announces acting president…

Good morning Awake58 readers,

Emily here, filling in for Nation this week. 

Nation, Molly, and Katie spent time in Nash and Edgecombe counties last week as part of the Blue Cross NC Extra Miles Tour. Check out Molly’s Twitter thread to learn more about their visit — and see a cameo from Dr. Lew Hunnicutt, president of Nash Community College, and Dr. Greg McLeod, president of Edgecombe Community College!

A big thanks to all who submitted nominations for our Moment of Hope series. Our third community college Moment of Hope features Melissa McCarraher, math instructor at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute.

Do you know a community college student, staff, faculty, or administrator you’d like to see featured in our Moment of Hope series? Submit their name here!

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) forum concluded last week. EdNC’s Katie Dukes recaps this year’s forum titled, “Advancing Together: Enhancing NC’s Workforce Through Educational Attainment.” Central to the forum was progress toward N.C.’s attainment goal and ways the state can continue closing attainment gaps.

Attendees heard strategies for boosting local success, practical ways organizations are coming together to close attainment gaps, and how communities can continue to scale initiatives at both the local and state level.

Read Katie’s full recap of the IEI forum here.

Speaking of closing attainment gaps, there are several initiatives underway in North Carolina that aim to connect individuals with educational opportunities.

Launched last summer, the adult learner initiative focuses on engaging and enrolling students over the age of 25. There are now 10 North Carolina community colleges involved in the adult learner pilot – N.C. Reconnect. EdNC has followed this initiative since its launch. You can check out our adult learner series here.

Last week, the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research announced the Rural College Leaders Program (RCLP). Partnering with Achieving the Dream, the Belk Center designed a capacity-building program that will help close equity gaps and improve student outcomes for 10 N.C. community colleges serving rural communities. 

Michelle Marshall, a John M. Belk impact fellow for EdNC, shares her perspective on being homeschooled and transitioning to Sandhills Community College. Michelle discusses the challenges of her home school experience and what she’s learning as a college student. Read Michelle’s perspective here.

Thank you for reading Awake58. Our team will be traveling around the state in the weeks and months ahead. What stories should we be telling? Where should we visit? We want to hear from you. You can reply directly to this email or send me a note at [email protected].

See you soon,

Emily Thomas

Policy Analyst —

EdNC reads

Emerging Issues Forum tracks progress toward North Carolina’s education attainment goal

North Carolina has an ambitious goal for educational attainment — to have 2 million people ages 25 to 44 with a meaningful, high-quality credential beyond high school by 2030. 

Progress toward that goal — and ways to get there — were the topic at last week’s 32nd annual Emerging Issues Forum, hosted by the Institute for Emerging Issues at N.C. State University.

Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography, explained that 2 million by 2030 would equate to 67% of the state’s projected population of adults between the ages of 25-44.

Panelists shared that some of the biggest challenges in reaching the attainment goal include persistent attainment gaps among racial and ethnic groups and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

MC Belk Pilon, president and board chair of the John M. Belk Endowment, echoed other panelists saying the attainment goal won’t be reached without closing racial and ethnic equity gaps. And to close the gaps, it’s going to involve everyone rolling up their sleeves and getting involved.   

Katie recaps the broad strategies discussed at the state level and highlights initiatives that are springing up across communities that are already moving North Carolina forward. 

Those include First in Talent, a strategic plan for economic development; the NC Workforce Credentials initiative; and a new partnership among seven community colleges and the Hope Center to create a “basic needs ecosystem.” Successes also include the Finish Line Grants, which provide assistance to community college students facing financial emergencies, and the bipartisan Longleaf Commitment Grant Program, which has provided financial support to more than 11,000 high school graduates attending one of the state’s 58 community colleges. 

See the full recap of the IEI forum here

Pushing past barriers and establishing my academic identity

Michelle Marshall, a John M. Belk impact fellow for EdNC, shares her personal perspective about transitioning from homeschool student to college student. 

Michelle writes:

Every home school is different; I personally did not like my home schooling simply because I missed quite a bit of fundamental education. In high school my curriculum was very independent, and I lacked the self motivation to properly continue my education around my other life activities. Bettering my education was neither a priority nor an option I had time to pursue…

After graduating high school, I immediately chose to further my education simply because I wanted to be finished with everything I could do with my education as soon as possible. While I was not confident I would get passing grades, I did feel like continuing my education would help me throughout my career more than a failed high school diploma. I decided to start my higher education at Sandhills Community College

Read Michelle’s story here

Around NC

Halifax Community College announces Dr. David Forester as acting president. Dr. Michael Elam, who served as president of Halifax since 2017, passed away Jan. 25, 2022.

The State Board of Community Colleges will meet Feb. 17-18 at the system office. Find the agenda here and related documents here.

Save the date! The North Carolina Community College System Conference is scheduled for Oct. 9-11, 2022 in Raleigh. Registration details will be available soon.

Orientation for new community college presidents will be held Feb. 16-18 in Raleigh. The orientation is hosted by the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents in collaboration with the Belk Center. This will be the first orientation since the start of the pandemic. More than 10 presidents have stepped into the role since 2020, and for some of these presidents, it is their first time to ever lead a community college. 

myFutureNC and Carolina Demography launched a new tool to help individuals understand trends in educational indicators at the state and county level. The tool highlights trends in three attainment-relevant areas: academic readiness, college & career access, and labor market. Click here to view the Attainment Trends Workbook. 

The 2022 ApprenticeshipNC conference is scheduled for March 15-16 in Wilmington. The deadline to register is Friday, Feb. 25. 

Winston-Salem State University was awarded a $28.2 million grant to create a program that will help students prepare for postsecondary education. “The Gear Up Grant will impact about 16,000 middle school through college students in three counties over a seven-year period. The county school systems involved include Forsyth, Guilford, and Rutherford in collaboration with Forsyth Technical Community College and Isothermal Technical Community College.

Central Piedmont Community College is hiring a social media manager. Details can be found here.

The Belk Center is looking for a postdoctoral research scholar with experience in quantitative methods and academic writing in postsecondary education. 

Check out this press release from Central Carolina Community College about the Blue Cross NC Extra Miles Tour with EdNC. Community leaders in Harnett County met with Blue Cross executives to discuss “challenges facing the local workforce and consider how healthcare providers might help prepare people for high-skilled, high-demand jobs that can improve the entire community.”

Some HBCUs are growing, including North Carolina A&T, the nation’s largest Historically Black University. Since 2014, the college’s head count has risen every year. In 2019, the college grew enrollment by 6%. The Washington Post article also looks at enrollment trends at other Historically Black Universities. Read the full article.

Other higher education reads

$1M to boost your college’s brand

Lumina launched a Million Dollar Community College Challenge that will award $1 million to one selected winner and $100,000 to nine other colleges. 

“The Million Dollar Community College Challenge is about finding colleges who have been working on the student experience and providing them with the support needed to tell their communities about it,” said Shauna Davis, strategy director for community college participation at Lumina.

Lumina is not looking for colleges that want to launch a one-off marketing campaign, though they will have wide latitude on how to use the grants, Davis said. The foundation is seeking colleges that can articulate what makes their college and the experience of attending the college great.

The initial application deadline is March 15. Lumina will hold informational webinars on Feb. 22 and 23 to address any questions. A team of reviewers comprising brand, marketing, and higher education professionals will announce 10 finalists in late April. 

More details can be found here. 

Public Viewpoint: New Research Shows the Significant Value of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

A webinar by Strada Education about new research that shows the value of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

“New research from Strada and the Urban Institute Center on Education Data and Policy reveals that students at historically Black colleges and universities have more favorable experiences and post-completion outcomes than their peers at other institutions.”

The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Register for the webinar.

Legislation Expands Pell Grants but Excludes Online Ed

“New legislation to expand Pell Grant eligibility for students enrolled in short-term skills and job training programs has wide support in Congress, even though it excludes students attending these programs online, a provision some community college leaders and online education advocates call a mistake.”

While the bill passed the Senate last year, it did not include the language added by the House to make an allowance for Pell Grants to be used for short-term programs. The language reads “at least 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least 8 weeks” as long as it is not primarily delivered online.

The House passed the legislation on Feb. 4 and it now heads to the conference committee.

Read the full story from Inside Higher Ed here.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.