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We are all #HaywoodStrong

A note from us

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

Gov. Cooper delivered his State of the State address… The closure of the Canton paper mill brings the state’s attention to Haywood County… Our Impact58 stories continue with a focus on Maywood and Stanly community colleges… The State Board of Community Colleges will meet this week… Wilson Community College is close to naming their new president…

The closure of the paper mill in Canton has been a major topic of conversation in western North Carolina and amongst our team this week. As you all may recall, we’ve spent a lot of time in Haywood County over the last six months, exploring the work of Haywood Community College. And now the work of the college will be all the more important as one of the largest manufacturers in the region closes.

I am reminded of what we wrote in our article highlighting the work of HCC:

In spite of and in light of falling enrollment, the pandemic, flooding, demographic shifts, and political trends, Haywood Community College will continue to anchor its community and serve as its architect of the future.

All the while, the community college is the ninth largest employer in Haywood County.

As it continues to offer an open door to all students, HCC must also find the resources to excel in all things, including training the early child care workforce, providing early child care, training first responders, supporting the mental health of those at the college and in the community, training the health care workforce, creating opportunities through its nationally-regarded early college, providing opportunities for other high school students to experience college, imagining the future of work, providing local leadership, and more.

Their work is even more important now. We’ll have team members in the county most weeks through the end of the school year. We would welcome any thoughts you have for us related to our coverage. Please feel free to reply directly to this email with any feedback.

Gov. Roy Cooper delivered his State of the State address last week. Much of Cooper’s speech focused on the state’s economy and workforce, according to Alex’s article covering the speech. Cooper’s community college highlights included the following remarks:

“In every corner of our state, community colleges are coordinating directly with local industry and workforce development boards. They’re creating hands-on training programs that help their graduates cross the stage with a degree or credential and a job offer in hand,” he said. “I’ve worked with you legislators in a bipartisan way to make sure people can get this training through Longleaf Commitment grants, Finish Line grants, and other community college funding. Let’s keep at it.”

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson delivered the Republican response. He also highlighted our community college system:

“Thanks to investments by our Republican legislature, we also have an incredible community college system where trade and technical programs provide fast-tracked, well-paying careers in fields that are vital to our state’s economy and communities,” he said. “Electricians, plumbers, masons, welders, mechanics, and other skilled trade workers earn incredible starting salaries.”

We are tracking all education-related bills that are filed at this link, to be updated weekly. We will release a special higher education-focused page at the filing deadline. And remember that you can keep up with all of our legislative coverage through this link!

The State Board of Community Colleges will also meet this week. You will be able to follow along by livestream, or check out EdNC’s meeting recap next week.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth —

EdNC reads

From makerspace to destination maker, Mayland Community College is driving community and economic development

Mayland Community College President John Boyd has launched an ambitious set of projects in recent years including a hotel, a planetarium, a makerspace, and more. A restaurant and bar will also arrive soon. This is a unique opportunity for a community college, which Mebane’s article explores:

According to President John Boyd, Mayland Community College (MCC) works closely with counties, local chambers of commerce, and economic development corporations. It plays an important — and unusual — role in economic development and community development across the region it serves.

“Smaller student populations often limit small, rural community colleges,” said Boyd. Enrollment is a primary driver of state appropriations, which can limit degrees offered and access to faculty talent.

That’s a real challenge, but Boyd sees a real opportunity.

“Rural colleges offer so many opportunities to make a difference to our communities and our students,” he said. “We offer the hope of a better life and a better community and are leaders within the communities we serve.”

Stanly Community College puts the community at the center of everything

Stanly Community College believes they are the key to workforce and industrial development in their county. A decade ago they held industry forums to identify the needs they could fill — and they continue to work to play that role.

Our Impact58 profiles continue with a look at SCC:

There’s a reason they’re called community colleges.

Stanly Community College (SCC), about an hour east of Charlotte, serves a population of just under 64,000. The way its leaders see it, basically everything the college does comes back to the community — what will help residents find good-paying jobs, and what will attract and serve local businesses.

In the 2018-19 fiscal year, SCC added $70.2 million in income to the local community’s economy.

The college was one of the last to join the system of 58, President Dr. John Enamait said. He calls it “the little college that could.” And a lot of hard work and relationship building goes into that.

Superintendents and presidents work together to change NC one student at a time

School district superintendents and community college presidents from across the state gathered together in Greensboro recently to discuss collaborations between their institutions, promising practices, and the state of the educational landscape in our state.

Mebane’s write-up documents several collaborations lifted up at the gathering, including Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the Rowan-Salisbury School System working together on teacher preparation, the regional approach undertaken by Central Carolina Community College, and Pitt Community College’s approach to partnership.

Another topic highlighted was an innovative approach from Isothermal Community College:

Too often, the “promise” of Career and College Promise gets lost when we refer to the program as CCP, said Margaret Annunziata, the president of Isothermal Community College.

Why are these programs so important?

Listen to this story about what happened to this community when the mills closed, as told by David Sutton, the superintendent of Rutherford County Schools.

Our history and our context matter, and both shape the direction of the work ahead, said Sutton. “A modest education was a death sentence to our community,” he said.

Sutton worked with Isothermal Community College “to design five-year course sequences that would make implicit possibilities explicit to our students — when do you do it, where do you do it, in what order do you do it.”

Annunziata then walked us through how she used this tool to see the variation across school districts in advanced placement (AP) and dual enrollment participation by race and ethnicity. She identified an enrollment gap.

“It’s very clear,” said Annunziata, “that Isothermal Community College has been doing a very good job of serving the people that we serve, but we are not serving all the people in the community.”

For students living in poverty — and she noted Black students are three times and Latinx students are two times more likely to be living in poverty — she questioned whether the promise in CCP is being upheld for all students.

“If we are going to have ‘promise’ in the title of this program,” she said, “then we have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘Are we making good on that promise, how do we feel about upholding our promises?’”

Annunziata also identified that 30% of the early college graduates were graduating with a transfer degree but not transferring to a four-year college.

The first of its kind National Community College Research Alliance launches

The National Community College Research Alliance (NCCRA) met for the first time in Raleigh recently. The hope is to build a collective research agenda and approach. Emily has the story:

Participants included those from research centers across the country, such as The Belk Center for Community College Leadership and ResearchCenter for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE), and Community College Research Center (CCRC), as well as individual researchers whose work involves providing decision-makers with the information needed to advance the efforts of community colleges.

The Belk Center at N.C. State University hosted the three-day event.

“The alliance – a first of its kind – was born from conversations with research colleagues across the country who welcomed more opportunities for collaboration and to elevate community college research,” said Belk Center Executive Director Dr. Audrey J. Jaeger. “It’s a moment in time to cultivate rigorous research that uplifts community college leaders and provides valuable information for them to support their respective missions.”

Around NC

The State Board of Community Colleges will meet this week. You can find the agenda here.

The John M. Belk Impact Fellowship application deadline is approaching. The application can be found here. Please forward to students who are eligible.

Y’all know I love BBQ. Lexington #1 was named the best in North Carolina by Southern Living Magazine. I highly recommend a visit the next time you are on the campus of Davidson-Davie Community College. Plus, we are always interested in your food recommendations. Shoot us an email with your favorite local restaurant!

WEBINAR on funding | “Please join Jobs for the Future and Achieving the Dream on Thursday, March 30 for a virtual event from 2:30-4:00 p.m. EST to learn about a competitive RFP for the Improving Economic Mobility for Adult Learners initiative.” You can register here.

FUNDING opportunity | “Takeoff: Institutional Innovations for College Men of Color, a project funded by ECMC Foundation and led by the USC Race and Equity Center, invites community colleges nationwide to submit proposals for one of twelve funding and support opportunities.” More details can be found here.

Central Carolina Community College has received a $196,800 grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, according to a release from the college.

Our thoughts have been with the Haywood County community as they grapple with the closure of the paper mill that is one of the largest manufacturing employers in the region. Haywood Community College will play a key role in the recovery.

Piedmont Community College’s marketing team was recognized for their efforts recently out of more than 200 community colleges in the southeast. Piedmont CC also presented on their BLAST! agriculture work at a conference earlier this month.

Pitt Community College announced they’ll be hosting a PBS workshop for early childhood educators.

Wake Technical Community College announced that the college “is powering up to train highly skilled technicians for the emerging electric vehicle (EV) industry, thanks to nearly $1 million in federal community project funds earmarked for the college.”

Other higher education reads

Biden’s Budget Calls for Pell Increase

The budget released by the Biden administration last week includes a request for a significant uptick in funding for the Pell program. Inside Higher Ed has more details:

The budget further proposes several investments in workforce training, including $335 million for apprenticeships in certain industries such as construction and clean energy, $100 million to help community colleges partner with employers to develop training models, and $200 million to connect high school students to community colleges and potential employees through dual enrollment, work-based learning and career advising.

Rural Community College Excellence

Check out this new report from the Aspen Institute on rural community colleges:

Rural community colleges occupy a unique and important place in higher education. Of 332 million Americans, 46 million live in rural communities, and more than 1.5 million attend one of 444 rural community colleges. These institutions are more than education providers; they are essential hubs in their regions, generating opportunities for economic mobility, driving talent development, and often supporting their region’s health and education systems.

Successful rural colleges understand and lean into their unique strengths, including a deep connection to place and the strong relationships among faculty, staff, and students that often accompany small size. Leaders at great rural colleges describe an internal agility that allows people at their institutions to think creatively about how to solve challenges, often by creating regional connections: between new employers and members of the community who need jobs, between social service agencies and people in need, between K-12 and higher education. These accomplishments often happen notwithstanding substantial resource constraints: Nationally, rural community colleges receive fewer financial resources than other, often larger, community colleges.

You can check out EdNC’s coverage from last spring on efforts to serve N.C.’s rural community colleges here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.