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We are hitting the road during national community college month

A note from us

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. If you missed last week’s edition of Awake58, find it here.

April is national community college month, and we want to know your story… We visited Central Piedmont and Rowan-Cabarrus last week… The economic impact reports focused on the entire community college system are rolling out…

Hey y’all,

April is national community college month, and we want to know your community college story. What has your local community college meant to you and your family? What opportunities did community college provide to you? What is the role of community colleges moving forward?

Please share your thoughts by clicking here

We are grateful for everyone who took the time to share their stories last week — and we want to hear more from all of you.

Last week, we were able to see community college stories in action. We traveled to Central Piedmont Community College on Tuesday to hear more about their work with the Latinx community in Mecklenburg County. A group of nonprofits from the area, Central Piedmont president Kandi Deitemeyer, and several members of the college’s team joined us. One of their core messages was the need for community colleges (and other community organizations) to go out in community and engage the Latinx community directly. One nonprofit leader told the assembled crowd, “My community members don’t necessarily know what you have to offer them. You need to start communicating with them when they are in sixth and seventh grade.”

On Wednesday, we traveled to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. We heard updates on the Rowan Education Collaborative, including the foundational story for the collaborative, while at Livingstone College with the RCCC team. The collaborative emerged in part because local leaders wanted to educate all children in their county while also providing them with opportunities to remain rooted locally.

From Livingstone, we headed to the North Carolina Research Campus where we saw the Kannapolis redevelopment story come to life. Craig Lamb, vice president for division of corporate and continuing education at RCCC, walked us through their new Advanced Technology Center. We were greeted by a talking robot before we toured the flexible space. One takeaway from the new ATC building, according to the RCCC team, is that they built the space to train for a wide array of skills instead of one set career. The hope is the space meets the needs of any industry that arises in their service area.

Last week, the UNC system hosted a virtual mental health conference sponsored by the community college system and the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

“Supporting the mental health of our students is paramount to their success,” Stith said at the conference. “As we emerge from the pandemic and build momentum for a great comeback, the mental health toll that faces our students will need to be addressed.”

Key takeaways from the conference include the importance of investing financially in behavioral health, incorporating social emotional learning into curriculum, and reducing the stigma around mental health. Read Hannah’s recap of the conference here.

We’ll see you on the road,

Nation, Emily, Hannah, and Molly


EdNC reads

UNC System’s 2022 virtual mental health conference urges statewide collaboration

Upward of 44% of college students report symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to a 2021 report by the Mayo Clinic Health System, and suicide is their third leading cause of death.

These “alarming statistics” were presented by North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) President Thomas Stith at the UNC System’s virtual 2022 Behavior Health Convening last month. The event, also sponsored by NCCCS and North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, was hosted March 30-31 to discuss ideas and best practices for supporting student mental health across the state.

“Supporting the mental health of our students is paramount to their success,” Stith said at the conference. “As we emerge from the pandemic and build momentum for a great comeback, the mental health toll that faces our students will need to be addressed.”

The multi-session seminar featured leaders from across the state, including state Secretary of Health and Human Services Kody Kinsley and Nash Community College’s Marbeth Holmes.

Here are some takeaways from the convening:

  • Colleges must prepare to meet student mental health needs, conference speakers said, and they should collaborate to do so. Colleges can offer accessible mental health resources, faculty mental health training, and financial support for students.
  • The pandemic continues to impact student and staff mental health and should be considered in these conversations. Demand for college counseling services continues to increase, typically at rates much higher than a college’s growth in enrollment. Adequate funding for resources in demand is important.
  • Expansion of insurance could play a big part in helping more students, Kinsley said.
  • Colleges should focus on connecting students to resources, instead of primarily on reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

Read the full summary of the convening by Hannah McClellan here.


Around NC

The economic impact reports on each of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges are rolling out. According to the reports, North Carolina community colleges have a collective $19.3 billion annual impact on the state’s economy. This new website details the economic impact of each college. Click on a college to learn how they are impacting the state, their local communities, and the students they serve.

The State Board of Education recently reviewed a report to the General Assembly showing how the state could possibly use full-time equivalency (FTE) as a way to fund K-12 schools.

Mebane Rash writes about the past and future of Johnson C. Smith University, a private HBCU located in the historic West End of Charlotte.

As Bladen County’s population shrinks, the county is developing a plan for the future. Bladen Community College will play a role.

College of The Albemarle was recognized as a 2022-23 Military Friendly school recently.

Pitt Community College hosted Gov. Roy Cooper as he continues to travel to various community colleges to lift up the Longleaf Commitment grant.

Martin Community College continues to work on articulation and other partnership agreements. They also recently hosted legislators from their area.

Isothermal Community College hosted their annual Science Technology Expo for sixth grade students from Rutherford and Polk counties. Over 800 students attended the event last week. View Emily’s Twitter thread here.

Robeson Community College is offering a cybersecurity awareness class given the growing nature of cybersecurity threats facing our communities.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is the latest college to receive press coverage for their efforts to address the truck driver shortage. When we traveled to Rowan-Cabarrus last week, we also heard a lot of discussion of the recent economic development announcement from Macy’s. Learn more here.

Western Piedmont Community College returned to an in-person open house model.

Window World made a $1.5 million dollar gift to support scholarships at Wilkes Community College.


Other higher education reads

UNC System adopts new budget model based on student success and not enrollment numbers

The UNC System is switching their funding model. For years, the system has relied on enrollment for funding. Now, they’ll be funded based on performance and student success. The UNC System Board of Governors approved the new funding model last week, which will be fully implemented in fiscal year 2024.

How does it work?

According to the News and Observer, “The new model calculates the amount of money allocated by the state based on how well institutions meet state, system and campus policy goals and metrics instead of enrollment growth. Campuses will get more equitable funding for similar instruction.”

State money will be allocated per credit hour and only go toward in-state students. Tuition will cover the costs of out-of-state students. The revised model recognizes that credit hours are more valuable to the state if student outcomes are improving. Schools will also now receive funding for summer courses for resident students.”

Community Colleges Helping Students Cope With Rising Inflation

Community colleges across the country are helping students cope with rising inflation. Some colleges are offering free breakfast, while others are giving gas gift cards or discounted public transit passes. And to help with textbook costs, several colleges have begun using open education resources.

“We are already a stretched sector. Even before COVID and the enrollment loss, we’ve been historically underfunded, and our students have been marginalized and neglected. Now you add COVID, you add inflation, and other pressures, and an already stretched sector is trying to absorb all of this,” says Dr. Karen Stout, president of Achieving the Dream (ATD).

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.