Community college collaboration and stories from this year’s graduates

A word of Nation

Welcome to Awake58 – EdNC’s newsletter focused on community colleges and the post-secondary landscape in North Carolina. We appreciate you allowing us into your inbox this week. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter. If you missed last week’s edition of Awake58, find it here.

Governor Allocates $5.3 Million for Summer Tuition Assistance…Community Colleges Collaborate to Build Regional Workforce…Stories from This Year’s Community College Graduates…Community College Kick-off Speeches the whole state…


Emily here, filling in for Nation while she’s gone.

This week, we talk about the resilience of the 58 community colleges and students who persevered and graduated during a pandemic. We have compiled stories of state community college graduates, highlighting their determination and courage. From adult learners to beginning students, these stories embody Dallas Herring’s ideal for the North Carolina Community College System – “take people where they are and take them as far as they can go.”

We also share some of the advice given to community college graduates. Thomas Stith, president of the NC Community College System (NCCCS), spoke to the graduating class of Mitchell Community College. Vice President of the State Council of Community Colleges Bill McBrayer returned to his hometown as Isothermal Community College’s 2022 commencement lecturer. Nation Hahn and I also gave a speech last month. Nation talked about rural areas and their importance at the start of Beaufort Community College. I went back to my home town to share with Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute my own journey as a CCC&TI student.

EdNC’s Hannah McClellan Talks Community College Collaboration and Partnership. Hannah raises what is happening nationally as community college leaders think long-term about being the problem solvers for their communities and how much of that relies on partnerships. In North Carolina, several community colleges are leading the way when it comes to thinking outside the box – collaborating with each other to provide expanded programs and services for students. Some of these collaborations include RTP Bio, an effort between the two colleges to unite their talent pool in biotechnology, biomanufacturing and biopharmaceuticalsshared truck driver training programs between campuses and a shared grant between two colleges to add high-tech educational simulation equipment to healthcare, manufacturing and construction curricula.

Governor Roy Cooper has allocated $5.3 million to community colleges as part of the Summer Accelerator grant funding. The program offers up to $5,000 to students taking classes at a community college, the UNC system, or a private university. Students can use the money for tuition, fees, books, housing, and other expenses. Click here to read the full article.

Do you have a community college story to share? Reply directly to this email or send me a message [email protected].

Thanks for reading Awake58,

Emily Thomas

Policy Analyst –

EdNC reads

‘It really is the future’: North Carolina community colleges collaborate to strengthen regional workforce

North Carolina’s 58 community colleges traditionally compete in some respects for students — and the resulting funding is based on enrollment. But as declining enrollment persists and colleges emphasize the need for accessible student services, among other reasons, this competitive relationship is shifting more and more toward formal collaboration.

In North Carolina, a new workforce development collaboration between Wake Technical Community College and Durham Technical Community College – RTP Bio – is an effort between the two colleges to unite their talent pipelines in biotechnology, biomanufacturing and biopharmaceuticals.

With overlapping geographic boundaries, Wake Tech and Durham Tech often compete to attract students. Now, the colleges will work together to connect students with regional biotech employers.

RTP Bio is one of the most important collaborations among North Carolina community colleges, according to college leaders involved in the program, but others exist. Read Hannah McClellan’s article to learn more about these collaborations at Central Carolina, Caldwell, Isothermal, and McDowell Technical community colleges.

Governor allocates $5.3 million to North Carolina community colleges for summer tuition assistance. Here’s how to get there

Students struggling to afford tuition this summer could find relief with a new $27 million “Summer Accelerator” grant program, announced by Governor Roy Cooper in April.

The program offers up to $5,000 to students taking classes at a community college, the UNC system, or a private university. Students can use the money for tuition, fees, books, housing, and other expenses.

Students eligible for the Summer Accelerator Scholarship must be:

  • Residents of North Carolina for tuition purposes.
  • Enrolled in a university program leading to a post-secondary degree or credential.
  • Working towards their first degree or post-secondary degree.

To apply for the Summer Accelerator Scholarship, students should contact their school’s financial aid office. Click on the spreadsheet in the previous URL for contact information for your community college and read our grant coverage here for more information.

Stories of Hope: Celebrating North Carolina Community College Graduates

Each year, the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) enrolls more than 500,000 students, supports 319,763 jobs, and employs 36,422 people. A recent Economic Impact Study found that the NCCCS contributes approximately $19.3 billion to the state’s economy annually.

But this year has been especially special for community colleges in North Carolina. Many of the 58 have held their first in-person launch ceremonies since the pandemic began, and some have seen their biggest promotions hit the stage this year.

It was also a special year for the 2022 graduates. Many of them started their university journey in the midst of a pandemic, while others chose to return and complete their studies after being out of school for years. Their resilience, determination and tenacity are highlighted here.

Around North Carolina

Other higher education reading

A 5th consecutive semester of decline in registrations

After nearly a decade of declines, the NCCCS saw an uptick last fall in enrollment. Data recently released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, however, shows that enrollment continues to decline.

Enrollment is down in all higher education sectors. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center indicated that total enrollment for spring 2022 was down 4.1%. This is the fifth consecutive semester of declining enrollment.

EdNC continues to track enrollment at North Carolina community colleges. You can read some of our previous reports here.

Rural Colleges: A Rewarding Leadership Opportunity

Dr. Linda Lujan, president of Lamar Community College, writes about the unique opportunities rural leaders have when it comes to serving their institutions and communities.

“I would advise presidential candidates not to ignore rural leadership positions and view them as ‘just a stepping stone to a greater college.’ challenging and most rewarding experience I have ever had in my long career in higher education and I hope that future presidents will give careful consideration to rural presidents because I believe they are the best job there is.

These sentiments are shared by many of our rural serving leaders at North Carolina community colleges. Read what Southwestern Community College President Dr. Don Tomas has to say about rural areas. And check out this article about a new Rural College Leaders program that helps rural-serving colleges address the challenges they face and take advantage of the opportunities.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.

Previous As higher education enrollment declines nationwide, trends at Maryland universities and colleges vary - Baltimore Sun
Next Eastern Iowa Community Colleges Receive CNC Program Welding and Equipment Grant