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The importance of local collective action

A note from us

Welcome to Awake58 – your weekly round-up of the latest community college news from across North Carolina and the country. If you’re not signed up for Awake58’s weekly newsletter, click here to do so. Our last edition covered several topics including a survey issued by the search committee for the next system president. You may read it by clicking here.

The system presidential search committee will meet again this week… The Dallas Herring Lecture is next week… We highlight partnerships at Robeson, Asheville-Buncombe, and Sandhills as our Impact58 blitz continues…

Hello — and welcome to Awake58.

The 2022 Dallas Herring Lecture is just a week away. Next Tuesday, Nov. 8, Alamo Community College President Dr. Mike Flores will deliver the keynote address titled “Community Colleges in Action: Advancing Equity and Enhancing Mobility Using Local Collective Impact Strategies.” The event includes virtual and in-person components. You may sign-up to be a virtual participant by clicking here.

The search for the next system president continues. The search committee will meet this week, and the agenda is here. As we mentioned last week, the search committee released a survey asking for feedback on the characteristics and qualifications for the next president. You may take the survey here. The deadline for responses is this Friday.

Our Impact58 blitz continues as we make our way towards visiting all 58 community colleges. The theme of our most recent visits is the importance of collaborations amongst nonprofits, government, industry, and community colleges. Our most recent content includes Robeson Community College’s focus on intentional partnerships, Sandhills Community College’s recent initiative to include the introduction of child care, and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s work with the Transformation Village to provide continuing education for the community they serve.

I also saw these collaborations showcased in a series of visits last Monday when I visited Forsyth Technical Community College’s Stokes Campus, Rockingham Community College, and a co-working space in Caswell County that Piedmont Community College has helped play a role in building out over the last two years. Our conversations ranged from the importance of offering flexible classes for Licensed Practical Nurses at night in Stokes County, to the role of health care collaborations for the simulated hospital on Rockingham’s campus, to the potential impact of a significant agricultural collaborative space in Caswell County.

Haywood Community College President Shelley White also graciously hosted me last week for a discussion around the college’s continued evoluation as they aim to serve their community. The topics we explored ranged from providing early childhood education and child care to a new health sciences building that will have a ribbon-cutting this fall. The next day, I was honored to join the Western Community College Leadership Academy to discuss higher education trends, opportunities, and challenges. Thank you to Barbara Browning for all of her hard work on the academy.

As we think back over all of our visits this fall, I am curious to know more about the collaborations you value in your community. How is your college working to build collective local impact? What successful partnerships should we be lifting up? Share your thoughts by replying directly to this email!

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth — EdNC.org


EdNC reads

Dr. Mike Flores, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District, to deliver 2022 Dallas Herring Lecture

The 2022 Dallas Herring Lecture is set for next Tuesday, Nov. 8. Dr. Mike Flores, the chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District, will deliver the keynote address titled “Community Colleges in Action: Advancing Equity and Enhancing Mobility Using Local Collective Impact Strategies.”

The virtual event is free, but registration is required. You may register here.

Here are more details on what to expect from Flores:

During his address, Flores will build a framework for using local collective impact strategies in ways that advance equity and enhance economic mobility. Flores, a child of migrant farmworkers, pursued an education to gain economic and social mobility and has since dedicated his career to ensuring students have both educational equity and access.

The annual lecture is named after the late W. Dallas Herring, whose vision and years of service culminated in the inception of North Carolina’s community colleges.

“Throughout his life’s work, Herring was guided by his vision that education should be an ‘opportunity for all the people,’” said Dr. Audrey J. Jaeger, executive director of the Belk Center. “Like Herring, Flores’ vision is to create a system that is accessible to all, and we are incredibly honored to have him as this year’s Dallas Herring Lecture speaker.”

Under Flores’ leadership, the Alamo Colleges District launched AlamoPROMISE, a tuition-free college program available to graduating seniors from the San Antonio area. According to a press release, it was “one of the most significant initiatives implemented in the region.”

A North Carolinian delivers a response to the lecture each year. Forsyth Tech President Janet Spriggs is the speaker this year — and she will lift up examples in North Carolina related to the discussion around equity and social mobility.

Stay tuned for our coverage next week. We will also live-tweet from @Awake58NC.

Robeson Community College creates intentional partnerships with local industry

Robeson Community College has seen an increase in enrollment even as community colleges nationally have faced enrollment declines. President Melissa Singler has credited their focus on workforce development as a key part of their strategy.

Cheyenne McNeill visited Robeson CC as part of our Impact58 tour — and her economic impact story zeroed in on their partnership with Mountaire Farms as an example of their industrial collaborations:

Eric Freeman is the vice president of workforce development, continuing education, and institutional services at RCC. He said partnering with Mountaire Farms and other industry partners usually starts with the basics.

“We work closely with them at different levels. We kind of do an assessment with them, we go toward a plan, we basically look to see what’s working, what’s not working,” Freeman said.

Freeman works with employers to determine their needs and evaluate how RCC can help. Are there a large number of openings in one area? Are there areas that need additional training? Where is the company experiencing turnover?

Like many other employers, Lowery says Mountaire Farms is looking for ways to help its current employees advance. This is where RCC comes in.

“We’re looking at skill set, and how to either develop a new skill set or to increase it,” Singler said.

From accounting to nursing to robotics, Mountaire Farms has openings across multiple disciplines. Lowery said this is what makes RCC so valuable to the company – the college can help provide employees in various departments.

For more on their work with local industry, click here.

From securing jobs to offering child care, Sandhills Community College is helping people find their way

Liz Bell paid a visit to Sandhills Community College, and while she looks at a range of impacts from the college, I wanted to showcase their latest initiative around child care:

It’s not just academic offerings that are on the minds of Sandhills leaders. This year for the first time, the campus will offer after-school and drop-in care for elementary-age children in a Boys and Girls Club on campus.

“(The organization) really helps the moms and dads in our community, and hopefully, this will help the moms and dads on this campus,” said President (John) Dempsey.

The model exists at only one other community college in the country, said Taylor McCaskill, director of the college’s transfer center. The idea arose during conversations over lunch that McCaskill had with Fallon Brewington, vice president of continuing education and workforce development — and former CEO of the local Boys and Girls Club.

Thirty-eight children are being served in after-school care, with plans to serve more in structured drop-in services in the evening.

Parents do not have to be students to use the club. In January, a “Sandhills promise” program will launch “in the spirit of changing lives,” McCaskill said. The promise program will cover the tuition for individuals who complete the high school equivalency program.

For more details on Sandhills work in the child care space, click here. We would love to know more about any interesting initiatives underway around child care and early childhood education on community college campuses. Reply directly to this email with any thoughts.

Threading together a community: Transformation Village and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

Homelessness spiked in 2021 in Asheville. Caroline Parker visited A-B Tech as part of her Impact58 travels, and her impact story focuses on an innovative partnership with a transitional housing project dubbed Transformation Village from Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry.

Transformation Village provides beds for up to 100 women experiencing homelessness — and A-B Tech offers continuing education for those residents:

The industrial sewing class at A-B Tech is a five-days-a-week, four-week course, located on the bottom floor of Transformation Village. The first three weeks focus on stitching, and the last week is about career readiness. At the end of the course, Transformation Village holds a job fair for students to meet with local businesses and interview.

The program is open to anyone who wants to enroll, residents of Transformation Village as well as non-residents. The first cohort of five students finished in September of this year, and instructor Johnny Ko said he knows of one student who started a job immediately at IFB Solutions, and two others who have interviews lined up for employment.

And what does the impact look like?

Cronin said the impact has been immediate. Having the program in the building removes a large barrier most people face when it comes to access: transportation. She said the residents in the program walk down the hallway with more self confidence and with big beautiful smiles on their faces.

The industrial sewing program and the people that teach it all contribute to this change.

Cronin believes: “It just gives these women hope.”

For more on this partnership, click here.


Around NC

The next meeting of the search committee is this Wednesday and Thursday. The agenda is here. The meeting will be live-streamed on the N.C. Community College System Office YouTube channel.

The system adopted a new strategic plan recently — and Business North Carolina published a spotlight on the plan.

Cleveland Community College is going to support the lithium battery supply chain through a mineral process operator training program.

Carteret Community College helped power outreach to middle schoolers recently to encourage them to participate in career exploration at an early age.

Craven Community College and Craven County Schools also offered a career fair for fifth graders recently that featured representatives from over 50 occupations presenting on their jobs to nearly 1,000 students.

Election Day is approaching — and several community colleges are included in bond initiatives going before voters. One is for Durham Tech — and the Duke Chronicle published an overview of what is at stake.

Halifax Community College’s search for their next president continues. Check out their site for more information. You’ll see a banner that leads to more information. The semi-finalists are:

  • Patrena Benton Elliott, the vice president for instruction and student support services/chief academic and student affairs officer at Robeson Community College
  • Pamela Monaco, the vice president of academic and student affairs at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago
  • Carmen Nunalee, the vice president of strategy and performance and dean of the Crutchfield Campus at Stanly Community College

For more details, click here.

Johnston Community College will expand their truck-driving program with the support of the GoldenLEAF Foundation.

Pitt Community College will participate in the inaugural North Carolina Educator Pipeline Collaborative cohort.


Other higher education reads

Students Who ‘Stand to Lose the Most’

We know food and housing insecurity is an issue for students across the country. A new survey indicates the potential scale of the problem:

new report, based on a survey of tens of thousands of community college students, found that they face rampant food and housing insecurity that may outpace the on-campus assistance services available to them.

The survey of 82,424 community college students from 194 institutions was conducted in spring 2021 by the Center for Community College Student Engagement, a service and research initiative in the educational leadership and policy department at the University of Texas at Austin. The report also includes insights from interviews with 45 students at three community colleges.

The report, released Wednesday, found that a fifth of students cut back on or skipped meals in the month prior to the survey because of costs. Almost a third of respondents ran out of food and didn’t have the money to buy more during that time.

For more details, click here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.