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Here’s what the $15 million in tuition aid for students means for community colleges

Welcome to Awake58!  If you missed the previous newsletter looking at how different college presidents are tackling college during the time of COVID-19, click here. If you were forwarded this newsletter, please click here to subscribe.

The State Board approved $15,000,000 in allocations to colleges, including $14,549,996 for short-term workforce scholarships … Our first Awake58 podcast with Kandi Deitemeyer is out now… We visited A-B Tech and Southwestern CC… We take a look at how Yancey County Schools bolstered FAFSA completion rates…

Molly Osborne, my community college teammate and our EdNC.org Director of Policy, has a new report out on the State Board of Community Colleges meeting last week. On Aug. 12, Gov. Roy Cooper announced $95.6 million in funding allocations as part of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund through the federal CARES Act. The community college system will receive $15 million of the funding.

“That’s a call to action for our community colleges and also a vote of confidence in our ability to serve the state,” said interim system president Bill Carver.

Of the $15 million, $14,549,996 will go to scholarships for students in “short-term workforce training programs leading to a state or industry-recognized credential in a high-demand field.” Students must be enrolled in one of 10 programs, although colleges will have flexibility to add other programs to meet local workforce needs. Those programs are:

  • Automotive
  • Aircraft Maintenance
  • Construction
  • Criminal Justice
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Healthcare
  • Industrial/Manufacturing
  • Information Technology
  • Transportation
  • Fire and Rescue Services

For more from the State Board meeting, including an update on the delay of Career and College Ready Graduates (CCRG) implementation, click below.

What are your thoughts on the short-term workforce allocation funds? What is on your mind as the fall semester resumes? Let us know by texting COLLEGE to 73224, reply directly to this email, or tweet us @Awake58NC if you have other thoughts or ideas.

See you out on the road,

Nation

Director of Growth, EdNC.org

LISTEN | CPCC president Kandi Deitemeyer focuses on ‘the long game’ during COVID-19

I recently caught up with Kandi Deitemeyer for the Awake58 podcast to discuss how all of the challenges of college during COVID-19 will unfold as she continues her leadership of Central Piedmont Community College and as she steps into her new role as president of the NC Community College Presidents’ Association.

Addressing what challenges might come this fall, Deitemeyer told us, “I’m always an eternal optimist. We’re going to stay focused on being student centered on our student agenda around completion and really not chase just enrollment for enrollment sake. Because we know historically that does not work. If students enroll late, they aren’t successful.”

Deitemeyer went on to say that both CPCC and the broader system must focus on the “long game” as it relates to enrollment and recruiting strategies, innovations around course offerings, and more.

We also discussed the innovative approaches CPCC and other colleges are bringing to the table to serve students this fall, as well as how those innovations might transform community colleges in the future.

Finally, I encourage you to listen to the podcast for Deitemeyer’s take on upcoming legislative sessions and some of what she hopes to see in the next community college system president. Click here to give it a listen!

Want to be a teacher? Check out your local community college

Two new associate degrees at our community colleges will make it easier for aspiring teachers to become part of North Carolina’s teacher pipeline. EdNC CEO and Editor-in-Chief Mebane Rash wrote up two recent convenings that explore this new offering:

“These are the two degrees we developed to help get teachers into the teacher pipeline,” said Dr. Kim Gold, chief academic officer for the N.C. Community College System. “We began this before the COVID challenges that we are facing now, but I think this is even more important now than it was.”

Addressing the program committee of the State Board of Community Colleges on Thursday, Aug. 20, Gold said most of the courses were already offered at community colleges.

“The purpose behind designing this particular degree and denoting it teacher preparation,” she said, was that “we wanted these students to begin to identify themselves as future teachers and think of themselves as future teachers.”

Mebane’s piece goes on to explain that these degrees are part of a strategy that will help community colleges across North Carolina quickly address diversity in the teacher pipeline, especially in underserved areas. For the full piece, click here.

Safety, enrollment, and the budget that determines it all. Southwestern Community College president Don Tomas shares his thoughts on the year ahead.

My colleague Alli Lindenberg traveled to Southwestern Community College in Sylva to meet with Southwestern CC president Don Tomas and his leadership team. Tomas had previously worked at Weatherford Community College when they faced a 100-year flood. Tomas’ comparison will likely resonate with many of you:  “[A flood is] not a pandemic that lasts on and on and on. You know, it hits, you fix it. And you can start planning.”

This passage will also likely stick with many of you as you consider the future: 

When I asked Tomas what was keeping him up at night, he gave a myriad of answers: student safety, faculty health, enrollment. One issue he and his team kept circling back to in addition to health concerns was their budget. If enrollment is down, how will they make it all work?

“That’s where it’s going to be very scary about the budget in the future, because it’s based on that FTE,” Tomas said. 

For the full piece on Alli’s visit to Southwestern CC, click here.

How one rural district boosted its FAFSA completion rate to one of the highest in the state

You probably heard a good bit about the FAFSA completion rate back in June as the myFutureNC Commission focused on the #FAFSAFrenzy campaign. Why? As my colleague Analisa Sorrells writes in her focus on Yancey County Schools: “According to a 2020 report by Education Strategy Group, students who complete the FAFSA are more likely to enroll in higher education – 90% of FAFSA completers attend college directly after high school, compared to just 55% of students who don’t complete the FAFSA. And, FAFSA completers are more likely to persist in their coursework and obtain a degree.”

The focus on FAFSA completion will absolutely remain an essential component of the state’s efforts to bolster student achievement and attainment.

Analisa’s piece focuses on Yancey’s strategies including:

→ Dedicated time, space, and staff for the FAFSA

→ Ensuring no students fall through the cracks through a caseload approach

→ A focus on a college-going culture and building relationships

For the full details, I encourage you to give Analisa’s piece a read by clicking here.

Visiting A-B Tech

I’ve missed visiting community college campuses during COVID-19, so it has been fantastic to return to the road in recent weeks. As you are reading this newsletter, I am likely in the car en route to Bladen Community College. Last week I had the chance to visit A-B Tech. 

The focus of my visit was on A-B Tech’s plan for their fall semester, as well as the adaptations they made to serve students in the spring. One particular focus of the story that I am writing on the visit will be around the leadership team’s optimism that the pandemic has actually ushered in innovations that will remain part of their business model moving forward.

Beth Stewart, A-B Tech’s VP of Instructional Services, told me, “As crazy as all of this has been, I believe we are going to come out a much stronger college. We are going to offer better products, be a lot more flexible, and this will mean we will be more competitive in the long term. We were already doing good things, but we are going to do great things now.”

The team at A-B Tech led me through their student registration process. Give it a look on Twitter! A-B Tech president John Gossett also spoke with me about their top concern for the fall, shared his take on their late surge in enrollment for the fall semester, and gave his optimistic take on the future of A-B Tech.

Stay tuned for my piece on A-B Tech soon!

Around NC

On Tuesday, August 25 at 1 pm ET, The Hunt Institute is hosting a discussion on philanthropic support for students entering the workforce with student loan debt. The Hunt Institute thought you would be interested in joining the discussion. Here is the registration link: https://bit.ly/31WB8PA

The Hunt Institute also posted a blog looking at the county-by-county attainment data released by Carolina Demography and myFutureNC.

Take action: Weigh in on the NC broadband survey by clicking here. It shouldn’t take much time and the data is important.

From a Wake Tech press release: “Wake Tech is a step closer to building a new educational and training site in eastern Wake County, which may become the college’s seventh campus. After a 180-day due diligence period, the college has finalized a land purchase agreement for 106 acres along the I-87/US 64 corridor in Wendell, not far from East Wake High School. The purchase price was $10,600,000. The project is supported by the $349 million bond overwhelmingly approved by Wake County voters in 2018.”

Fayetteville Tech sent over a note documenting their class offerings for the fall. Take a look at their offerings, a combination of in-person, online, and hybrid classes. 

Other higher education reads

  1. Hechinger Report examines “How higher education’s own choices left it vulnerable to the pandemic crisis.
  2. From Inside Higher Ed: “As more colleges threaten punishment for risky student behavior that can spread the coronavirus, experts suggest either providing students alternatives for safe social interactions or keeping campuses closed.”
  3. sobering article from the New York Times on the potential impact of foreclosures and evictions: “For others, efforts to conserve money and avoid missing rent have caused them to retrench on investments like education. That balancing act, even if it keeps tenants in their homes for now, won’t just affect the near-term economic recovery — it could also cause damage that permanently alters the trajectories of their lives.”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.