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Three-year Initiative to ReCONNECT NC Announced

The following is a press release from the Institute for Emerging Issues

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University today announced “ReCONNECT NC,” a new, three-year initiative that will seek to “reconnect” North Carolina’s communities civically, socially and economically through a series of six forums held throughout the state, as well as statewide work with stakeholders and partner communities. 

The focus of the initiative comes as a result of an intense effort by IEI. During the Summer of 2017, the Institute launched the “NC Big Idea Challenge,” and held a series of interviews and focus groups to identify the biggest issues facing North Carolina. Through this effort, one underlying theme emerged: North Carolinians are feeling more disconnected than ever, and they want to do something about it. 

“What we heard from people across the state, and what the data confirms, is that disconnection costs all of us,” said IEI Director Leslie Boney. “It hurts ability to get good jobs, have good health and build strong communities. We want to find ways to restore connections to their communities, between rural and urban areas and to job opportunity.” 

The data shows that disconnection has real and measurable social, health and economic consequences—and not just for the individual, but the collective community and economy as a whole. 

“Without strong ties to employers, schools, local communities, and neighbors, people are far less likely to contribute to economic growth, maintain their health, or participate in the social and civic activities that define our shared quality of life,” said Boney. “Reconnection is vital to our state’s overall prosperity—contributing to the success and well-being of our communities, families and businesses.” 

For the first time ever, IEI will hold forums outside Raleigh, with plans for forums in Asheville, Charlotte, Eastern North Carolina, as well as in Raleigh. This will also be the first time IEI focuses on a single, cross-cutting issue over a three-year period.

Each Forum will have a specific focus: for example, one will explore how people can reengage in their communities; another will focus on building bridges between rural and urban areas; another will focus on developing new pathways to better employment. At each Forum, IEI will seek five North Carolina communities interested in piloting new ideas. 

“We think people in communities across the state have the ideas and interest they need to reconnect, and we want to work with our partners and community groups to find and share those answers,” said IEI Senior Policy and Program Manager Sarah Langer Hall. “We believe with this approach and by adding new Forums across the state, we can reach even more people and spread success across the state.” 

The first ReCONNECT NC Emerging Issues Forum, ReCONNECT to Community: Increasing Civic Engagement and Dialogue, kicks off Fall 2018, in Asheville. Registration is scheduled to open July 2. 

More information about ReCONNECT NC is available at 

About the Institute for Emerging Issues: 

Housed at North Carolina State University, the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) is a nonpartisan public policy, “connect-think-and-do” tank focused on North Carolina’s future prosperity. Please visit for more information. 


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.