Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Duke Energy grants helps community colleges prepare for ‘rapid change’

A note from us

Hello, Nation here. If you missed last week’s Awake58 #GivingTuesday edition, you can read it by clicking here.

We joined Central Piedmont Community College for the special announcement of their $500,000 donation from Duke Energy… The State Board’s award committees met last week and they will meet again this week… A new report is looking at a potential wave of incarcerated students becoming Pell-eligible in 2023… 

I had a chance to visit both Bladen and Sampson Community colleges last week. In addition, Coastal Carolina Community College President David Heatherly joined our group for a conversation around the future of workforce development in Onslow County. My thanks to all three colleges for participating in our travel.

One key focus of our conversations across all three communities was the need to reengage disconnected youth as we emerge into a new normal after the last few years. In case you missed this earlier piece from Newsweek on disconnected youth, here is what the data shows nationally:

Landing those jobs straight out of high school, though, is still tough—or, apparently, any job. According to Lightcast, the number of young adults ages 18 to 24 who are neither in school nor working surged by about 1 million from 2019 to 2021. Young men in particular are more likely to be disconnected; the percentage of young men not in school or working jumped from 12.4 percent in 2019 to 16.7 percent in 2021, according to Lightcast. And the racial discrepancies are startling, with Black and Hispanic young people by far the most likely to be disconnected: Nearly one in four Black youth (23 percent) and about 17 percent of Hispanic youth are not working or in school, versus 15 percent of white youth.

For the full piece, click here. I am curious to know more about the impact of disconnected youth (and all other age brackets) in your community. What are you seeing? How are your colleges experiencing this trend? I’d love to know. Feel free to reply directly to this email.

This week, we documented a new grant for Central Piedmont Community College to launch a lineworker program, Wake Technical Community College’s START program for STEM, and our Impact58 visit to Halifax Community College. We also spotlight a new funding opportunity in the Around NC section below.

Thank you for reading Awake58 and EdNC this week.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth – EdNC.org


EdNC reads

With investments, community colleges are helping the cities they serve prepare for ‘rapid change’

Duke Energy announced a series of grants to community colleges across North Carolina last week. Mebane attended the announcement of a $500,000 gift to Central Piedmont Community College. Her article documents why increasing the amount of lineworkers will matter to communities across the state — especially Charlotte:

“When you look around Charlotte, you see all the cranes, all the buildings, all the housing developments. You see everybody moving here,” said Harry Sideris, an executive vice president for Duke Energy who manages customer experience. “Well, all that takes a lot of lineworkers.”

Lineworkers are our rockstars during storms when we realize we can’t take access to electricity for granted. But lineworkers will be even more critical as our state moves toward a new future for energy.

“We are undertaking the largest energy transition in the country,” said Sideris. “And that’s going to take a lot of lineworkers to build the grid that’s going to be the grid of the future.”

Many of those people who will be moving to Charlotte will be driving electric vehicles, using solar energy, and powering more and more devices with batteries.

“About 40-50% of the lineworkers in the greater Charlotte area have less than 18 months experience,” said Steve Parker, area director for Duke Energy. He is hiring 17 new lineworkers each quarter just to keep up. And that’s with energy demand right now.

To read more, click here.

Halifax County is leveraging resources — natural, human, and institutional

Rupen visited Halifax Community College as part of our Impact58 tour. His visit included a focus on a large new forest products manufacturing company called Roseburg Forest Products that launched a new Halifax County site for the company recently:

The state’s “wood basket” is in Eastern North Carolina, and Halifax County lies in its heart. Roseburg owns just under 200,000 acres of timberland in the region. But proximity to forest, alone, was not enough to attract Roseburg during what Scott called a very competitive process.

The driving factor, Reed said, was the proximity to Halifax Community College.

“Being in the industry that we’re in, which is manufacturing and, specifically forest products manufacturing, we’ve had a lot of folks that have retired out over the years,” he said. “So replenishing that workforce has been historically difficult. One of the things that we felt would be very beneficial to our business is our proximity to Halifax Community College.”

A recent study shows that Halifax Community College has a total annual economic impact on the area of $60.8 million. It supports nearly 1,400 jobs.

For the full write-up on his visit and the college’s economic impact, click here.

Wake Tech seeks to increase diversity in STEM through START program

As we travel, we hear a lot about the need to increase apprenticeships, paid internships, and other “learn as you earn” type programs. Hannah visited Wake Tech recently to document the college’s START program. START provides paid internships with a focus on increasing diversity in STEM:

“The heart of START is really a success and retention tool to increase the diversity of STEM professionals,” said Jackie Swanik, Wake Tech’s associate dean of math and sciences and START program director. “The idea is if we can get students involved in these projects, doing the work of a STEM professional now, when they hit potential roadblocks, they’ll be more engaged and be able to persist and be successful.”

Now, after receiving a $1.4 million National Science Foundation grant in 2021, START is a 60-hour program that offers students paid internships through Wake Tech.

Through the five-year grant, 50 students each semester are paid $15 an hour during the program. The program includes 40 hours of research and 15 hours of research training. Of that, 10 hours are online professional development and five hours are “community building.”

“We were able to take it from like an undergraduate research experience into a true program, so now it is a paid internship through Wake Tech,” Swanik said, regarding the grant. “Students get the skills and the experience of having to do all that (employment) paperwork and what it looks like to be a professional. That wasn’t really a goal of the program, but some of our students really need that experience to help them to feel confidence as they look for other employment.”

For more on the program, click here.


Around NC

Upcoming funding opportunity from the ECMC Foundation:

In partnership with the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center, ECMC Foundation will identify 12 community colleges that seek to pilot, implement and scale innovative campus-wide efforts to support college students who are men of color by May 2023. Funding would allow currently established community college programs to improve their infrastructure and expand their programming and operations to serve more men of color. Each program will be eligible to receive at least $75,000 over two academic years. Details on the Request for Proposal (RFP) process will be released in early 2023. Sign up for Foundation news and updates to stay informed.

The N.C. Community College award committees are meeting now. They met last week to discuss the President of the Year award last week. They will meet to discuss the Staff Member of the Year this week. More details can be found here.

Alamance Community College is continuing to pitch the State Board of Community Colleges for a multi-site campus designation for their Burlington campus.

Several community colleges announced grants from Duke Energy last week, including Cleveland Community College and Southeastern Community College.

Gaston College’s food pantry is meeting the needs of additional students — and their work was featured on local television.

Halifax Community College’s new President Dr. Patrena Elliott was featured in the local press last week. She will formally start as president on Jan. 1.

Some big funding news from Surry Community College: “Strada Education Network selected Surry Community College (SCC) to receive a $400,000 grant through the Employer and Community College Partnership Challenge as part of an effort to support innovative collaborations across the country between community colleges and employers.”

Wayne Community College sent several participants to Mexico as part of Go Global NC’s recent Strengthening the Talent Pipeline trip. Local media documented the travel — and noted several other community colleges sent representatives as well.

Some news from Saint Augustine’s University: “A comparison study conducted by Saint Augustine’s University (SAU)’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis (OIRA) found SAU among the top historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs) in the country in alumni giving and student-faculty ratio. OIRA completed the study upon U.S. News & World Report’s release of their 2022-23 Best Colleges & Universities.”


Other higher education reads

Enrollment down across UNC System

Enrollment declines are a broader postsecondary issue as highlighted by the recent numbers from the UNC system, according to a Higher Ed Works report:

For the first time in nine years, the UNC System saw enrollment decline this fall, according to a new report.

Because public universities currently receive state funds based largely on their enrollment, that could mean financial reductions for some. But the UNC Board of Governors is working to soften the blow, chiefly by raising the out-of-state enrollment cap at five more of the System’s 16 institutions.

The total headcount across the System for Fall 2022 was 239,663 students – a decrease of 4,837 students, or almost 2%. Undergraduate enrollment declined by 3,834, or 2%, from 2021 to 2022. Graduate student enrollment declined by 1,003 students, or 1.89%.

For the full details — including an institution breakdown — click here.

Higher Ed Works also has an interview with Margaret Spellings and Tom Ross regarding the Governor’s new commission on higher education governance. You can find the interview here.

700,000 incarcerated students will be Pell-eligible in 2023. Here’s what that could mean for your institution.

Beginning in 2023, more incarcerated students will become Pell-eligible. A new EAB report takes a look at the potential ramifications:

Online students and other non-traditional audiences are increasingly an area of focus for institutions nationwide. But there is one large group of non-traditional students that’s been previously excluded: incarcerated students. Beginning July 2023, over 700,000 incarcerated adults will become Pell Grant eligible, enabling qualified students to pursue federally funded college education for the first time since the 1990s. As the US Department of Education described, this change will open doors to postsecondary education and new career opportunities for thousands of prospective adult learners.

For the full analysis, click here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.