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April is 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 community college month — and plenty of folks are celebrating… Supply chain issues are impacting community colleges… Emily Thomas visited a Cleveland Community College prison reentry simulation that is designed to showcase the challenges… The major economic development news story from last week has a community college angle… myFutureNC is hiring… Fayetteville Tech has officially begun their presidential search…

Welcome to April —and the official start of national community college month.

Last week, we sent out a tweet showcasing some of North Carolina’s community college leaders explaining why they read Awake58 and EdNC. Now we would love to know why you read this newsletter — and all of our coverage on Reply directly to this email with your reason — and we will highlight some of the best responses in the weeks ahead.

We would also love to hear your community college story. Why do you do the work that you do? Why do you believe in North Carolina’s community college system? What is the best community college story you have heard or experienced to date? We would love to know your answer. Respond to this email — or tweet @Awake58NC.

As national community college month gets underway, the system office issued a press release pointing to the recent economic impact report as one proof point of the importance of the system to the state:

recent report delivered to the State Board revealed the NCCCS contributes about $19.3 billion to the state’s economy each year. Expressed in terms of jobs, the colleges’ impact supported 319,763 jobs. The study indicates that the state’s unified system of 58 community colleges generate nearly double the revenue from what they take in from taxpayers. For every one dollar the state invests, taxpayers get $1.90 back in added tax revenues and public sector savings. In addition, N.C. community college students enjoyed an average rate of return on their college investment of 22.3%.

The release goes on to point to customized training and other business partnerships as a key part of the role the system plays for North Carolina. They pointed to the recent VinFast announcement as an example of the work that is underway. VinFast, an electric vehicle company, will build a huge manufacturing facility at the Triangle Innovation Point in Chatham County to help bring their new vehicles to market. WRAL Tech Wire has an article out regarding Central Carolina Community College’s role in providing customized training for the project. Tech Wire notes other community colleges will get in on the action given the size and scale of the project, including Wake Tech.

We also have two articles out this week I hope that you will read.

Our piece on prison reentry from my colleague Emily Thomas takes a look at Cleveland Community College’s recent simulation to showcase the challenges of reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals. As Thomas notes, more than 20,000 individuals are released from prison in North Carolina each year. The challenges for the individuals are often complex, and various institutions across the country provide simulations to show community members the complexity of the challenges. Cleveland Community College is one such institution, and Emily was on the scene last week. Give her piece a read by clicking here.

Supply chain issues have been a significant topic of discussion in recent months — and community colleges are far from immune. Hannah McClellan has a piece out now examining the impacts on various capital projects across the community college landscape.

Thank you for giving Awake58 a read. I look forward to hearing your community college story as community college month gets underway.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth –

EdNC reads

Reentry after prison isn’t easy – N.C. community college hosts simulation to show challenges

Reentry from prison to civilian life is a challenging, complex moment for the more than 20,000 North Carolinians who participate in that process each year. It is also a critical moment for society as a whole. Emily’s piece lays out the process and data:

Successful reentry starts well before an inmate is released.

There are two prominent initiatives in North Carolina aimed at reducing recidivism and creating positive transitions: work release and educational training.

While in prison, inmates can earn a variety of credentials, including high school equivalency and career and technical degrees.

2013 meta-analysis by RAND Corporation concluded that inmates who participated in educational programs had 43% lower odds of recidivating. And the odds of obtaining employment after their release increased by 13% among those who participated in educational programs.

Cleveland Community College is one of 41 community colleges in the state to provide educational training to inmates.

Emily attended a recent simulation at Cleveland CC that introduced community members and stakeholders to the array of challenges that individuals leaving incarceration face.

Read more about her experience at the simulation by clicking here.

‘There’s a lot of concern’: Supply chain issues felt by N.C. community colleges

The supply chain challenges that many of us have felt when we’ve been grocery shopping, looking for items for home improvement, etc. represent a significant challenge for community colleges across the state as various capital projects are now underway.

Hannah McClellan’s piece examines the impact on various colleges:

Alamance Community College officials asked county commissioners in February to free up more money to cover soaring construction costs, The Alamance News reported. The college’s request concerned two flagship projects — a student services center and biotechnology center of excellence. County voters agreed to fund the projects in 2018 through a $39.6 million revenue-bonds sale.

In addition to inflation, rapidly climbing construction and labor costs increased the training center’s estimated cost by $2.5 million, Alamance Community College President Algie Gatewood said. Without those funds, he said the college must substantially roll back its plans for the facility, including the firing range.

At Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI), President Mark Poarch has similar concerns regarding two major upcoming building projects.

As was the case at Alamance Community College, those project estimates were based on pre-covid construction costs.

“I’m worried that those costs could be significantly more than we currently have the money to build,” Poarch said. “So we’ll be working through that and trying to determine what the new cost looks like and getting a game plan and strategy for trying to secure any additional funds that may be needed for the projects, but that certainly is a big concern.”

Various renovation projects across campus also cost more than they would’ve otherwise, Poarch said. Supply chain issues have also delayed some programs from fully launching.

Hannah’s piece goes on to explore the impacts beyond building costs and completion to examine the impact on programs launching — or being delayed. Caldwell’s two-year associate in applied science degree in biopharmaceutical technology has not been fully implemented as a result of shipping delays.

Give her story a read by clicking here. We would love to know more about your own experience with supply chain issues at your local college. Send us an email if you have a story to share!

Around NC

We appreciate this perspective from Robeson Community College on RCC student Makayla Hunt. Hunt is a sergeant in the North Carolina National Guard who could be deployed if the conflict in the Ukraine continues — and she shared her story with the college. Her community college story is one worth noting during community college month:

In January 2021, Makayla found herself back at Robeson Community College and immediately began hitting the books in pursuit of an Associate of Arts degree, with hopes of one day transferring to the University of Pembroke.

Why RCC?

“Whenever it came to me being in North Carolina and having to leave at a moment’s notice, my teachers were very understanding after giving them copies of my orders. They worked with me and gave me ample time to complete the assignments.”

“I just feel like they really wanted to see me succeed, like they understood and supported me.”

Makayla says that choosing a college that is supportive is something all active-duty military members and veterans should look for when considering a school to attend.

We thank Makayla for her service and her story.

The first issue of the North Carolina Community College Journal of Teaching Innovation is out now. You may find the issue by clicking here. Dr. Josh Howell wanted to pass along the following message to faculty and staff across the state:

Now that our first issue has been released, we are seeking manuscripts for our second issue — slated to release fall 2022.

Do you have a manuscript related to North Carolina Community Colleges? Our call for submissions is open until April 29th!

To learn more about the journal, the editorial staff, submission requirements, or to access articles individually, visit us at

N.C. Community College System president Thomas Stith appeared in a video from Higher Ed Works calling for expanding the state’s investment in faculty and staff pay. In the video, Stith declared, “We have to invest in our faculty and our staff on our community college campuses to ensure that we have high-quality instructors in front of our students and the support staff to provide an excellent experience for student success.”

myFutureNC is hiring for six open positions at present. For more details, click here.

In case you missed it, NC Workforce Credentials Advisory Council released a list of industry-supported workforce credentials recently. They explain the work as follows:

Identifying priority non-degree credentials accomplishes several important goals, including:

  • Helping policymakers incentivize credentials that align with business needs and spur economic growth;
  • Connecting students and adult learners with in-demand credentials that produce competitive and family-sustaining wages; and
  • Providing an opportunity for businesses to weigh in on the workforce skills that matter most for their industry.

Carteret Community College recently updated their trustees on supplemental funding from the state that will support various initiatives at a recent meeting.

Gov. Roy Cooper visited Central Carolina Community College recently as part of his ongoing effort to tout the Longleaf Commitment: “This allows people who are moderate-income folks, lower-income folks, get the opportunity to get their community college tuition and fees paid for. And I think you will find almost unanimous support among the businesses out there. They know that this is important. A well-trained workforce is one of the most important things for their business that they can imagine.”

The Haywood County Board of Commissioners, Haywood County Schools Board, and Haywood County Community College Board of Trustees held a joint meeting recently to showcase their partnership efforts.

Fayetteville Tech Community College has formed a committee and launched a national search to identify a new president as longtime FTCC President Larry Keen prepares to retire on January 1, 2023.

Fayetteville Tech is also in the news for their work training students on cybersecurity given the ongoing importance of it during the conflict in the Ukraine.

James Sprunt Community College utilized their new nursing facilities to engage middle school students around potential careers in health care.

South Piedmont Community College is in the news for their recent request that “Union County commissioners place a $71.6 million bond referendum on the November 2022 ballot… This would fund centers for entrepreneurship, public safety training and aseptic training.”

Other higher education reads

A Fast, Frugal Track to a Cook’s Career? Community College.

The New York Times profiled culinary training at community colleges as a path for those pursuing a culinary career. Durham Tech was among the schools featured:

That practicality is exactly what these programs are designed for, said Altarius Moody, the director of hospitality management and culinary arts at Durham Technical Community College, in North Carolina. Often those who enroll have full-time jobs or families to take care of; programs like Durham Tech’s, he said, provide sizable scholarships, offer courses at night and enable people to graduate within a year.

The number of colleges that primarily serve Latino students has declined during the pandemic

The impact of declining Hispanic enrollment for both students and institutions has been spotlighted by Hechinger Report:

Nationally, the number of Latino students enrolled in college between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2021 decreased by about 7 percent, data from the National Student Clearinghouse shows. But the Latino population in the United States continues to increase.

The decrease in HSIs and the decrease in Latino student enrollment point to a clear conclusion for Deborah Santiago, the president and CEO of Excelencia in Education: Institutions need to invest more and work harder to serve Latino students as they pursue their degrees and enter the workforce.

And even though enrollment is the sole criterion for earning HSI status, Santiago said efforts need to go beyond that, and focus more on what it actually means to serve and support Latino students.

Give the full piece a read by clicking here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.