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myFutureNC explores attainable education goals for North Carolina

The myFutureNC Commission continues to engage the state in a conversation regarding a statewide educational attainment goal. Committee members, content experts, and other stakeholders are asking what a reasonable goal might be for our state. The goal must take into account many factors, including our development of homegrown talent, inmigration, upskilling our workforce, and where students drop out along our pipeline.

During the most recent myFutureNC Commission meeting at SAS on June 15, President Peter Hans of the NC Community College System, President Margaret Spellings of the UNC System, and national research firm ECONorthwest opened the meeting with their own perspective on the work ahead for the Commission.

The ECONorthwest presentation is below:

Attendees of the Commission meeting reviewed a handout evaluating the education continuum and educational attainment through the prism of North Carolina residents from birth to 64 as of 2016.

Questions that have come up from the listening sessions I have attended as part of the myFutureNC process include exploring the decision points students face in terms of enrolling, dropping out, or returning to campus in order to obtain a credential they need. Education leaders have also discussed how North Carolina might focus their efforts particularly on the 905,000 North Carolinians who have attended some college without completing.

Check out the continuum below and share your thoughts with me by texting COMMUNITY to 73224.

Courtesy of the John M. Belk Endowment and Carolina Demography

Listening in Kannapolis — and beyond

On June 14, the Friday Institute and myFutureNC held a listening session in Kannapolis.

Before sunrise, our crew headed to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the Kannapolis Research Campus to meet up with community leaders for a tour of the RCCC campus ahead of the listening session.

The Kannapolis listening session drew nearly 100 participants from Charlotte, Salisbury, Kannapolis, and even one entrepreneur who drove in from Durham.

Philanthropist MC Belk Pilon opened the session by explaining why she believes in the myFutureNC process, describing how her father, co-founder of the Endowment, spent his entire career focused on talent, hiring, retention, and recruitment both as a businessman and as a metropolitan mayor. His experience, combined with her own business experience, drove Pilon’s interest in the data the Lumina Foundation unveiled around state-level attainment and the need for states to dramatically increase their percentage of citizens with post-high school education to remain competitive in the 21st century.

Check out our video of the event:

The conversation throughout the day echoed similar themes from past listening sessions, including an emphasis on institutional barriers, such as the high cost of postsecondary education and student debt, but also the barriers that exist for so many North Carolinians for whom “life happens.”

Life happens is a label we’ve heard applied at a variety of campuses. One community college staff member put it plainly, “We have students who are a flat tire or a blown alternator away from giving up and dropping out.”

Business leaders repeated the common theme of the need for soft skills. At virtually every listening session, leaders are sharing that they look to hire for attitude, work ethic, and simply showing up.

During the evening Attain the Dream session, more than 50 attendees showed up to discuss their views on attainment and postsecondary access.

The conversation in the evening focused in part on the need to offer critical support services such as Single Stop for community college students. Single Stop is a program that provides coordinated access to an array of services, including counseling, tax preparation, and more.

Please check out the midterm listening report, which documents findings from past listening sessions:

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.