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Alumni, partnerships, and more: Colleges are driving their local economies

A note from us

Welcome to Awake58 – your weekly round-up of the latest community college news from across North Carolina and the country. Our last edition featured the first round of Impact 58 stories, including Pamlico’s prison programs and Catawba Valley’s furniture academies. You may read it by clicking here.

Community leaders highlight College of The Albemarle’s economic impact… Program at Surry Community College connects high school students to local industry internships… Blue Ridge Community College alum gives back to community… Isothermal Community College partners to host first-ever Earl Scruggs Music Festival… State Board of Community Colleges to meet this week…

This week’s edition is packed with postsecondary stories from around the state.

We have more Impact 58 stories for you this week. Leaders shed light on College of The Albemarle’s community-wide economic impact. A program at Surry Community College connects high school students to local industry internships. Blue Ridge Community College alum gives back to the community.

We’re also chatting about music festivals and college transfer. Isothermal Community College’s WNCW 88.7 partnered to bring artists to the inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival. The UNC System rolled out a common course numbering database to help students transfer across North Carolina public institutions more easily.

EdNC tuned in to the Hunt Institute’s webinar about the role community colleges play in attainment. Check out the tweet thread here.

Our team continued Impact 58 travel last week with visits to Durham Technical, Fayetteville Technical, and Tri-County. We’re on the road again this week visiting Guilford Technical, Mitchell, Pitt, Richmond, and Wilson. You can keep up with our travels here.

Lastly, the State Board of Community Colleges will meet at Cleveland Community College this Wednesday through Friday. Click here for the agenda.

Stay tuned for more Impact 58 stories and coverage of the State Board of Community Colleges September meeting. 

As always, thank you for allowing us into your inboxes each week.

Chasing sunsets and crossing county lines –

Emily Thomas 

Policy Analyst – 

EdNC reads

Updates from Impact 58

Experiences of local leaders highlight College of The Albemarle’s economic impact

Here’s a fun fact: College of The Albemarle serves more counties than any other community college in the state. Their reach is wide-spread, accounting for a total annual impact of more than $105 million. 

During her visit, Policy Analyst Katie Dukes spoke with local leaders about COA’s impact in each county served.

A program putting Surry and Yadkin students to work

EdNC’s Caroline Parker spent time at Surry Community College learning about the unique partnership between the college and its four school districts. In 2020, Surry partnered with the four school districts it serves to create a program known as Surry-Yadkin Works.

The program allows high school students in Surry and Yadkin counties to complete a paid internship in a local business. Students can earn high school credit, college credit, and industry-recognized credentials.

Surry-Yadkin Works is the first youth-based internship and apprenticeship program in the state.

‘Being part of the community’ leads to alumni impact at Blue Ridge Community College

“To better understand the economic impact of alumni, I wanted to understand the role of alumni as force amplifiers, the ripple effects of their presence in the community, and the trickle down or trickle up effects of or on their personal and professional lives.”

EdNC’s Mebane Rash met Blue Ridge Community College alum Dan Poeta during her visit to the community college. Here’s a snippet of Poeta’s story:

“Poeta owns Horizon Heating and Air Conditioning. He moved to the area in 1997 with an electrical contracting license, and in 2002 he went to work with a local heating and air conditioning company running the electrical department. He asked his employer if he could take the apprenticeship program at Blue Ridge for heating and air. They paid for the course and the books. As he tells me his story, he points out and says, ‘I was a student in that lab right there.’

Poeta never forgot the investment his employer made in him. He went on to get his state contracting license for heating and air and opened Horizon in 2010.

He also never forgot his experience at Blue Ridge.”

Read Impact 58 stories here

Isothermal Community College partners to bring Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Béla Fleck, and more to first-ever Earl Scruggs Music Festival

After years in the making, the Earl Scruggs Music Festival kicked off its inaugural event Sept. 2, 2022 at Tryon Equestrian Center in Mill Spring.

The multi-day festival convened artists from across genres to honor the legacy and musical influence of Cleveland County native, Earl Scruggs.

When Isothermal Community College’s WNCW and the Earl Scruggs Center teamed up to deliver a music festival that honored Earl Scruggs, they were also on a mission to “underwrite educational programming and community outreach in Scruggs’ home region while carrying his legacy into the context of modern culture.”

“Beyond the provision of workforce development and adult literacy programs, one of the original charges to the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) was to put forward cultural opportunities that were accessible to every citizen in every corner of the state,” Mike Gavin, director of marketing and community relations at Isothermal, said.

Gavin offered that WNCW is one of the best examples of creating cultural opportunities, fulfilling part of the NCCCS mission.

More from the Earl Scruggs Music Festival

UNC System streamlines transfer process with common course numbering

More than 22,000 new undergraduate transfer students enrolled at UNC System institutions during the 2021-22 school year. On Thursday, the UNC System announced a new database to help such students transfer across North Carolina public institutions more easily.

The online database, called the UNC Common Numbering System, includes over 1,600 undergraduate, lower-level courses from institutions within both the UNC and North Carolina Community College systems.

In 2021-2022, there were 574,181 students enrolled in the North Carolina Community College System. That same year, approximately 13,000 of the UNC System’s new transfer students came from the NCCCS. That’s nearly 60% of the UNC System’s new transfer students.

Read more here

Around NC

The Rural College Leaders Program (RCLP) will convene Sept. 18-20. Read more about RCLP here

Central Piedmont Community College dedicates $113.4 million to first-ever student union

UNC Health Lenoir launched a new scholarship opportunity for Lenoir Community College students entering or currently in the nursing program.  

Robeson Community College counselors raise awareness about suicide prevention. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 

College of The Albemarle’s virtual STEM program honored by national education publication for helping promote STEM interest to elementary school students. 

Other higher education reads

Postsecondary Pathways | Engines for Equity: The Role of Community Colleges in Access to Higher Education

The Hunt Institute is hosting a webinar Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. about the role community colleges play in access to higher education. MC Belk Pilon, president and board chair of the John M. Belk Endowment, will moderate the event. Piedmont Community College President Dr. Pamela Senegal will be a panelist.

Community colleges have had a long history as open access institutions, allowing learners from varying backgrounds to earn credentials and degrees. They have often been seen as engines for economic mobility and intergenerational wealth, especially since they disproportionately serve first-generation, low-income, and students of color. This session will feature a variety of resource experts to share best practices to ensure students are able to access higher education.

Register for the webinar here.

Dozens of community colleges offer remedial classes; bill to ban them awaits Newsom’s signature

Remedial education may be a thing of the past for California’s community colleges.

A bill awaiting California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature would mostly ban remedial math and English classes.

The new law builds off the initial one by creating stricter rules detailing the limited scenarios when colleges are allowed to enroll students in remedial classes. Certain groups of students would be exempt from needing to go directly to transfer-level classes, such as some disabled students, students who didn’t graduate from high school and students in some career technical education programs. A college could also enroll a student in a remedial course if the college can prove, based on the student’s high school grades, that the student would be more likely to earn a degree by doing so.

Colleges would be expected to enroll the rest of the students in transfer-level classes.

Read more here.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.