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Gov. Cooper announces Longleaf Commitment. What would that mean for community colleges?

A note from us

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

Gov. Cooper is deploying millions of dollars from GEER funds to launch the Longleaf Commitment… The State Board of Community Colleges met last week and Molly has the details below… Gov. Roy Cooper released his plan on how to spend about $5.4 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds. We explore what his plan would mean for community colleges and postsecondary education below… 

Last week, I traveled across the western part of North Carolina. My trip included spending time at A-B Tech, meeting with community college leaders from more than 10 institutions, and visiting Mayland Community College.

While I traveled back to Raleigh on Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper released his plan for the deployment of the American Rescue Plan funds for North Carolina. As a reminder, the American Rescue Plan included about $40 billion in direct funding for colleges and universities nationally as well as funding to states, counties, and local governments.

Gov. Cooper’s plan includes $1 billion for broadband, $300 million for public pre-K-12 schools, and $835 million in college scholarships and grants. A significant portion of this last bucket of money is part of a program they have dubbed the NC Guarantee. Here is how it would work, according to my colleague Alex Granados:

The biggest news is a proposal of $835 million for various scholarships and grants to help students wanting to attend the UNC System, independent colleges, or a state community college. The proposal guarantees at least $6,000 for families making $60,000 or less to cover expenses related to attending either a UNC institution or state community college.

Our friends who are budget experts always remind us that proposals are just a starting point — legislators, staff, special interests, and education leaders themselves will weigh in before any budget proposal becomes law. We will see how the legislature reacts to the idea in the weeks ahead. Alex will be covering the process every step of the way. If you haven’t yet subscribed to EdDaily – our daily email featuring the news you need to know in education — now is a good time to do so. Click here to subscribe to EdDaily, as well as any of our other newsletters.

The big news on Monday for community colleges across the state was the launch of the Longleaf Commitment and Longleaf Complete. Gov. Cooper will be deploying millions of dollars in GEER funding to provide “at least $2,800 in federal and state grants to cover tuition and most fees at any of the state’s 58 community colleges,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

In addition, $12.5 million will be deployed for Longleaf Complete in an effort to engage students who are partway home — read: earned some credit but have yet to receive a degree or credential. Read more about it here.

During my travels last week, Mayland CC president John Boyd showed us the Anspach Advanced Manufacturing School and the Earth to Sky Park. We also walked through the Three Peaks Enrichment Center, currently under construction, and the soon-to-open Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel. The theme of our conversation with President Boyd was the way community colleges can serve as a linchpin for community development for rural regions in particular. We will share more of the Mayland story soon.

I also had the honor of delivering the commencement speech at Isothermal Community College last week. You may view the commencement speech by clicking here. President Margaret Annunziata and her team worked diligently to provide a safe, in-person graduation for their 2021 graduates. Monday, May 17th, offered a warm, beautiful evening for the graduates. Their joy was infectious — as was the happiness of their family and friends who gathered together. My remarks focused on the role of community colleges in our country, the importance of resilience, and a reminder to remember we can all try again tomorrow. I also encouraged the graduates to remember the importance of serving their local community.

We were honored to have Kaidyn Radford with us for the last nine months as our John M Belk Endowment Impact Fellow! Kaidyn brought multimedia skills to the table in a variety of ways that made our content stronger and more helpful to our audience. Kaidyn also hosted a special podcast called Beyond the Classroom. Kaidyn’s postsecondary journey began at McDowell Tech — so it is fitting that the final episode of Beyond the Classroom is with John Gossett who served as president of the institution at the time. Click here to give the podcast a listen. Please join us in wishing Kaidyn the best!

Thank you for spending time with us again this week. Later this week I am visiting Carteret Community College. If you are part of the Carteret community, send me a note. We will be taking next week off from sending this newsletter due to Memorial Day. We hope you have a great long weekend!

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth — EdNC.org


EdNC reads

State Board of Community Colleges met last week

The State Board of Community Colleges met Friday, May 21. Here are the highlights from my colleague, Molly Osborne:

Both Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont Community College president and president of the NC Association of Community College Presidents, and Julie Woodson, president of the NC Association of Community College Trustees, stressed the importance of faculty and staff pay in their reports to the Board.

“Let us not forget, and let us keep reminding those who will stroke the pen in the General Assembly, that this incredible talent and those thousands of graduates would not be possible, or the hope for our great state, if it were not for the incredible talent and really the dedication, hard work, professionalism, passion, and service of the best faculty and staff in the nation,” said Deitemeyer.

Bill McBrayer, chair of the personnel committee, announced the hiring of Dr. Bruce Mack as the new vice president of economic development at the system office following the retirement of Maureen Little. Mack was previously the vice president of economic and workforce development at Cleveland Community College.

“Dr. Mack comes to you this morning with just stellar credentials,” said Thomas Stith, president of the NC Community College System. “There will be no learning curve. He has been well versed and has networks across the state.”

McBrayer also announced the renaming and transfer of several positions at the system office from SPA to EPA. SPA positions are subject to the state’s Personnel Act, whereas EPA positions are exempt. EPA employees are “at-will” and serve at the pleasure of the system president.

Finally, Stith spoke to the Board about Gov. Cooper’s proposal for American Rescue Plan funds. You can read more about that proposal here.

Community college will become more affordable for some with new Longleaf Commitment

As mentioned above, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday he will allocate millions of dollars in GEER funding towards making community college more affordable for many students across the state through the new Longleaf Commitment:

Using federal COVID-19 aid, Gov. Cooper is providing $31.5 million so that high school seniors from low- and middle-income families can get “at least $2,800 in federal and state grants to cover tuition and most fees at any of the state’s 58 community colleges,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“Education translates into opportunity, and I thank Governor Cooper for his decision to use federal funds to extend higher education opportunities for students to attend community colleges,” said Thomas Stith, president of the North Carolina Community College System, in a press release. “North Carolina’s ‘great 58’ community colleges are essential to the state’s economic recovery efforts and are well poised to prepare the workforce needed, today and tomorrow.”

The governor is using GEER funding, which stands for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. All in, Cooper is spending $51.4 million. That money includes the $31.5 million for the Longleaf Commitment program focused on high school seniors. Additional details on how to apply will be available here.

Additional money will be spent on the new Longleaf Complete program, “that will be focused on college students whose education has been interrupted during the pandemic That money can be used by UNC System students, NC Community College students, or students at independent colleges and universities to help them complete their degree.”

These two programs will last for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years. For the full piece, click here.

Federal relief could mean big bucks for education. But how will the money be spent?

Last week, Gov. Cooper released his strategy for spending American Rescue Plan dollars. The highlights for community colleges include:

  • NC Guarantee: “The proposal guarantees at least $6,000 for families making $60,000 or less to cover expenses related to attending either a UNC institution or state community college.”
  • $60,000,000 for the Finish Line Grants program.
  • $75,000,000 for technology and equipment for the community college system.
  • $2,000,000 to combat food insecurity and hunger on community college campuses.

The plan also includes additional investments in small business centers and other efforts designed to reconnect North Carolinians to the workforce.

For full details, check out our story by clicking here.

'Try again tomorrow.' My advice to graduates of Isothermal Community College.

It was a true honor to deliver the commencement speech for the 2021 graduating class of Isothermal Community College last week. I encouraged them to share the story of our community colleges as they move forward as graduates:

Isothermal is one of our 58 community colleges in North Carolina. Through my job with EdNC, I have been fortunate enough to travel to 45 of those 58.

Dallas Herring, considered by many to be the father of the North Carolina Community College system, famously said the purpose of community colleges is to “take the people where they are, and carry them as far as they can go.”

This powerful sense of purpose is alive and well today. North Carolina’s 58 community colleges meet people where they are — and give them a chance to pursue their dreams.

During my travels I have seen that community colleges are first class institutions. I’ve seen a world class photography program at Randolph Community College, I’ve ridden in the big rigs at Caldwell Community College as they prepare student drivers for a great paying career that will change their family’s life dramatically, and I’ve heard of students who faced homelessness, attended an early college, and landed in the Ivy League.

I don’t have to tell you that you received a great education here at Isothermal, because you lived it, but I do often have to remind those who haven’t experienced community colleges recently that they are among the most important tools our country has to change lives.

My friend Mike Krause, who helped lead higher education efforts in Tennessee, recently reminded us— most people view college through the lens of an 18-year-old student transitioning from high school straight to a four-year college and moving forward from there. This has never been the only path, but it is even more rare today, and it is long past time that our policies and perceptions shift.

Most of you sitting in this crowd as graduates tonight will change jobs multiple times. And community colleges are practically the only institutions of higher learning that can provide you with a credential in 8 or 16 weeks that can dramatically change the financial future of your family.

For the remainder of my advice, including a reminder that “I’ll try again tomorrow” might well be among the most important four words we can remember each day, click here.

How will the pandemic shape postsecondary education in North Carolina?

Did you read our special report on the pandemic school year in North Carolina? If not, carve out some time from your busy schedule this week to read it. The reporting doesn’t just focus on the year we just endured. In my opinion, the most important portions of the special report explain how the 2021-2022 school year will be shaped by the lessons we all learned. Click here to read the full report.

Our team explored several trends in the postsecondary article that will continue to impact our community colleges moving forward:

  • Enrollment
  • Our state’s 2 million by 2030 attainment goal
  • Outdated IT and cybersecurity systems
  • The decline in students seeking financial aid
  • The early college model
  • Short-term workforce training as a key part of pandemic economic recovery

You can explore all of the trends by clicking here. Once you’ve read the piece, we would love for you to share your thoughts on those trends, or any we missed, by responding directly to this email or by texting COLLEGE to 73224.

Postsecondary podcasts from across the country

From Alli Lindenberg:

The Key – Defining and Measuring ‘Value’ in Postsecondary Education

This week’s episode of The Key explores a report from a high-powered group of policy makers, college leaders, researchers and others that proposes a new way of judging whether colleges and programs are providing a good return on investment to their students – with a particular focus on whether they’re ensuring equity.

First in Future – Dr. Johnson Akinleye and Dr. Deepak Kumar of NCCU

The Institute for Emerging Issues, in a four part series, will be focusing on the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities – a group of 10 colleges and universities stretching across the state formed to ensure that African Americans had access to higher education. This episode is with Dr. Johnson Akinleye and Dr. Deepak Kumar of North Carolina Central University.

Lessons Earned – Ebony Beckwith

After graduating high school, Ebony Beckwith headed directly into the workforce while winding through several community colleges before realizing she needed that four-year degree to reach her career goals. Today, Beckwith is chief philanthropy officer and CEO of the Salesforce Foundation where she directs hundreds of millions of dollars in grants focused on education and workforce development. It’s time, she says, to reimagine education so it serves the lifelong learner and embraces multiple pathways between learning and working.


Around NC

Did you know EdNC has a special page set up for each community college in North Carolina? Be sure to check out our listing of all 58 community colleges today by clicking here. We’d love your feedback.

If you missed it last week, I would encourage you to read our policy analyst Emily Thomas’ look at cyberattacks across community colleges. The community college system’s legislative priorities include funding to bolster cybersecurity efforts for colleges across the state.

The Hunt Institute, in partnership with the John M. Belk Endowment, is currently accepting applications through May 28 for the John M. Belk Impact Fellowship! Please share this opportunity with your students. The Hunt Institute shares, “We are seeking a diverse group of students passionate about equity in education – North Carolina’s future social impact leaders! The Fellowship provides hands-on experiences for students currently enrolled in a North Carolina college or university. Learn more and apply here: https://hunt-institute.org/equity-in-education/belk-fellowship/. ”

myFutureNC spotlighted the following opportunity for Awake58 readers: “Supporting Students in Navigating Trauma, Grief, and Stress and the Impact on the College-Going Process: On Wednesday, May 26th, national school counseling experts and advocates, Dr. Kara Ieva and Dr. Laura Owen, will lead a discussion on how to serve the class of 2022 in navigating the college application, RDS, and FAFSA completion processes, recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on their lives. Learn more and register here.”

Lenoir Community College shared a perspective on Lancer Academy last week. Lancer Academy is a partnership between the college and Lenoir County Schools. The perspective describes Lancer Academy as a “structured opportunity” with the first opportunities for students focused on the health care industry.

You all are welcome to submit a piece for publishing on EdNC.org at any time. Read this piece for more information.

The Shelby Star spotlighted Cleveland Community College’s graduation ceremony with a focus on Cleveland CC student Kweli Huskey-Littlejohn’s story and experience with the college.

Durham Technical Community College shared that they will host their first Virtual Open House on Wednesday, June 2 at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and all are welcome. The Virtual Open House will help prospective students and community members explore and understand Durham Tech’s new Guided Career Pathways, student support services, and will showcase a variety of student engagement and career opportunities. Click here for more information and to register.

Fifth Third Bank is hosting a contest designed to offer an entrepreneur $10,000 to launch a small business. The contest includes the participation of several community colleges — including Gaston College.

SkillsUSA held a virtual version of their competition recently. YES! Weekly spotlighted Guilford Tech’s participation in this piece.

Wake Tech recently hosted their fourth annual IGNITE event. According to a release from the college, “IGNITE is an annual event to showcase the college and its mission of transforming lives.” You may view the video recap here. Does your college have a similar event? We would love to hear about it.

The Elkin Tribune reports, “The Wilkes County Board of Commissioners has provided a $1 million check to Wilkes Community College Foundation to invest in the new Wilkes Community College (WCC) Education Promise. The Education Promise is a last-dollar scholarship to Wilkes Community College designed to ensure all graduating seniors in Wilkes County can attend WCC tuition-free for two years.”


Other higher education reads

Back to Class: Will Pandemic-Disrupted Learners Return to School?

Strada Education is out with a new survey looking at “widespread disruption to both education plans and work for millions of adults in the U.S., especially those from historically marginalized groups.”

One key finding: “To date, more than one-third of adults have had to change or cancel their education plans, including 2 in 3 young adults and 3 in 5 Latinos.”

For the full survey results, click here.

States and School Systems Can Act Now to Dismantle Silos Between High School, College, and Career

The Center on Reinventing Public Education interviewed 31 statewide, nonprofit, and K-12 leaders to discuss the possibility of dismantling silos between high schools, college, and career readiness.

The main question they are exploring: “The COVID-19 pandemic brought on an employment crisis alongside falling college enrollment rates, which reached historic lows at two-year institutions. Would these twin crises provide the motivation and opportunity that states, education institutions, and employers needed to make meaningful progress toward a more flexible and integrated learning system?”

For the full report, click here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.