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The robots are coming, plus an update on the budget process.

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. Click here to subscribe.

Automation is coming and Burke County has launched Work in Burke to help promote ways for residents to prepare… The budget is continuing to move through the legislative process… Be sure to share our new FAFSA guide… Davidson Community College received a significant new grant… James Sprunt will receive millions of dollars worth of capital upgrades…

Communities across North Carolina are actively working to improve their workforce development pipeline. This week, we spotlight one important effort called Work in Burke. I would encourage you to spend time with our piece to understand their process and the goal. It is an idea that other communities might gain lessons from as they consider their own efforts.

I also had the chance to visit Alamance Community College to learn more about the work of the Alamance Career Accelerator Program (CAP). We spent a large portion of our visit at Fairystone Fabrics, a leading textile manufacturer and a  partner with Alamance Community College on a number of fronts, including Alamance CAP. Fairystone introduced us to several of their apprentices who will conclude the program with both a degree and a job at their plant. Look for more coverage on Alamance Community College soon!

In case you missed it, we launched a new guide to the FAFSA recently. It is designed to serve as a road map for students who have questions on the process. We would love it if you would distribute it to prospective students. Feel free to also add it to your website — all of our content is free to republish.

Last week, we reported on the possibility of the community college budget priorities moving through the legislature. On October 9, Senate Bill 61, which contains most of those priorities, passed the full House. We will keep you updated on the progress that may unfold this week.

We also held our first student town hall at Forsyth Tech last Tuesday. We really appreciate them hosting the inaugural town hall. The energy level and contributions of the students were fantastic. The events are designed to be focused on lifting up student voice. Check out this student’s answer:

If you are interested in hosting a town hall, please let me know by replying directly to this email.

Thank you for reading,


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EdNC reads

Work In Burke, a model for workforce development in rural North Carolina

Western Piedmont Community College, Burke County Schools, Burke Development Incorporated, and others are collaborating on a model for workforce development called Work in Burke. This quote explains why they feel like it matters: “The amount of mechanization and robotics that are coming, jobs are going to require more and more skills… If you don’t have those skills, you’re going to have more and more people that are going to be working or trying to get less and less good-paying jobs. That’s going to be a disaster.”

Is there an end in sight on budget stalemate for community colleges?

Senate Bill 61, which contains community college provisions from the budget, passed the full House with a unanimous vote on October 9. If the Senate approves the bill and the governor signs it, then most of the budget priorities for the community college system will be funded — minus faculty pay increases and capital funding.

A conversation with the new president of Haywood Community College

We caught up with Shelley White, the new president of Haywood Community College pending State Board approval, who told us she is taking lessons from A-B Tech and President King with her to Haywood: “The most important lesson I will take with me to Haywood from Dr. King is that we must strive every day to be a welcoming college. This is at the heart of our mission and includes being welcoming to students, their families, our employees, community, and businesses.”

Other reads

How to fix education’s racial inequities, one tweak at a time

How is one Southern California community college emerging as a national model for combating racial inequities? POLITICO has the story. I’d recommend giving it a read. And if you have stories from your own college on this front, I’d like to hear more about them.

‘This is the bust’: Colleges tackle the challenge of regional consolidation

This report on consolidation from Education Dive explores the “why” of the regional consolidation debate that is unfolding across the country: “The funding drop disproportionately affects regional two- and four-year colleges, which rely more on state dollars than larger institutions…  and aren’t as readily able to discount tuition as larger public or private colleges … We’ve had a 50-year period of massive expansion of the number of students thanks to baby boomers, plus an expansion in public sector financing… That was the boom; this is the bust.”

The students disappearing fastest from American campuses? Middle-class ones

Hechinger takes a look at colleges that are attempting to get more middle-class students on campus. This stat that you may not have heard a lot about in recent years explains why: “The proportion of students on college campuses from the lowest-income families is going up, the Pew Research Center reports, while the share of students from the middle has fallen in the last two decades from 48 percent to 42 percent at private, nonprofit institutions, and from 48 percent to 40 percent at public four-year universities.”

Around North Carolina

Metropolitan College at Johnson C. Smith University focuses on college dropouts

The best estimate of the myFutureNC Commission for the number of people in North Carolina who started college but then dropped out is 905,000. Our friends at the Institute of Emerging Issues spoke with Dr. Laura Colson McLean, Dean of JCSU Metropolitan College, to learn more about their efforts to engage those North Carolinians.

Davidson County Community College receives $2.25 million grant

From the Dispatch: “Davidson County Community College has received a grant of $2.25 million from the U.S. Department of Education. The funds will be delivered to the institution over a five-year period starting this month.”

James Sprunt Community College gets millions for upgrades

From WITN: “Leaders at James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville are preparing for some major renovations at the school… James Sprunt Community College has been given more than $6 million in grants, and students and staff are excited to see what that money will do. Students and staff are excited about improving their outdated buildings.”

Salem College and Forsyth Tech agree on transfer plan for Forsyth Tech graduates to attend Salem College

From the Winston-Salem Journal: “Salem College and Forsyth Technical Community College have agreed to a plan that will allow Forsyth Tech graduates to pursue bachelor’s degrees at Salem College. Under the plan, Forsyth Tech students who received associate degrees in the arts, science and applied science with at least a 2.0 GPA will be eligible to enroll at Salem College.”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.