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Ever thankful for North Carolina’s bright spots and our leaders who are working to build a greater North Carolina

Bright spots drive change. 

From the very beginning of EducationNC, we have believed in lifting up bright spots across North Carolina — all of the bright spots, including examples of innovation and collaboration, programs showcasing the capacity of our state to tackle complex programs, leaders who are willing to do anything for all of our students and all of our people, and communities that underscore what is possible when we believe in a greater North Carolina.

Every day, Team EdNC spreads out across the state to tell stories, conduct research, and engage communities in a statewide conversation about education. The myFutureNC Commission launched in late 2017 with an emphasis around identifying a statewide educational attainment goal for North Carolina and an action plan for how the state might achieve the goal. Attainment happens when students graduate with a degree or credential that lands them a job paying a living wage to support a family.

In 2018, we rode shotgun across the state we all love with our colleagues at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and the UNC School of Government as part of the myFutureNC process.

myFutureNC held nine listening sessions over the spring and summer, along with focus groups and additional meetings of the Commission. A variety of themes surfaced across the birth-to-career continuum, including the importance of character development and soft skills, the necessity to prioritize equity in education, the need to connect education and business, and a call for educating students and parents alike on the career opportunities ahead for the next generation of workers.

As those themes bubbled up, our team and the folks at ncIMPACT at the School of Government began to discuss the need to lift up local success stories. This conversation turned into a research project called Bright Spots NC: Innovative Efforts to Accelerate Attainment across North Carolina.

We put out a call for innovative programs through the myFutureNC Commission and eventually settled on 10 programs. For the record, we easily could have spotlighted 40.

For more on the process, spend time with our webinar announcing the findings:

As we join our friends and family this Thanksgiving, it is my sincere hope this series will spark conversations about all of the folks who are working to build a greater North Carolina one day at a time. I have never been more optimistic about the future of our state. Please watch and share our videos:

Bright Spots: Strategic Twin Counties Education Partnership (STEP)

Bright Spots: Project SECURE at Wake Tech

Bright Spots: Wilson Youth Master Plan

Bright Spots: Gold Rush Grant at UNC Charlotte

Bright Spots: K-64 in Catawba County

Bright Spots: Made in Durham

Bright Spots: Alamance Career Accelerator Program

Bright Spots: Project SEARCH

Bright Spots: STEM East

Bright Spots: Profound Gentlemen


We are thankful to our colleagues at the myFutureNC Commission, ncIMPACT and the UNC School of Government, and all of the programs who opened their doors to allow us to visit them and share their story with our state.

If you wish to spend time with the entire series, you can find all of our posts by clicking here. For each of the policy briefs created by ncIMPACT, head over to their website. The myFutureNC process continues, and they have a plethora of resources over at

I am particularly grateful to Anita Brown-Graham for her tireless leadership, Emily Gangi Williamson for her depth of skills around making partnerships work, and, of course, my colleague Robert Kinlaw for telling these important stories with his usual care, creativity, and wisdom.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.