Lessons from two community colleges

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.

April is National Community College Month, and we want to hear your story… We visited Central Piedmont and Rowan-Cabarrus last week… Community College System-Wide Focused Economic Impact Reports are rolling out …

Hi everyone,

April is National Community College Month and we want to hear about your community college story. What has your local community college meant to you and your family? What opportunities has community college given you? What is the role of community colleges in the future?

Please share your thoughts by clicking here.

We’re grateful to everyone who took the time to share their stories last week – and we want to hear more from all of you.

Last week we got to see stories of community colleges in action. We visited Central Piedmont Community College on Tuesday to learn more about their work with the Latinx community in Mecklenburg County. A group of local nonprofits, Central Piedmont president Kandi Deitemeyer, and several college staff members joined us. One of their main messages was the need for community colleges (and other community organizations) to get out into the community and directly engage the Latinx community. A nonprofit leader told the gathered crowd, “People in my community don’t necessarily know what you have to offer them. You need to start communicating with them when they are in sixth and seventh grade.

On Wednesday, we went to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. We heard updates on the Rowan Education Collaborative, including the foundational history of the collaboration, while at Livingstone College with the RCCC team. The collaboration emerged in part because local leaders wanted to educate all children in their county while providing them with opportunities to stay locally rooted.

From Livingstone, we headed to the North Carolina Research Campus where we saw the story of Kannapolis’ redevelopment come to life. Craig Lamb, Vice President of Professional and Continuing Education Division at RCCC, introduced us to their new Advanced Technology Center. We were greeted by a talking robot before touring the flexible space. One of the takeaways from the new ATC building, according to the RCCC team, is that they built the space to train for a wide range of skills instead of a defined career. The hope is that the space meets the needs of any industry that arises in their service area.

Last week, the UNC system hosted a virtual mental health conference sponsored by the Community College System and Independent Colleges and Universities of North Carolina.

“Supporting the mental health of our students is paramount to their success,” Stith said at the conference. “As we emerge from the pandemic and build momentum for a great comeback, the mental health toll our students face will need to be addressed.”

Key takeaways from the conference include the importance of investing financially in behavioral health, integrating social-emotional learning into the curriculum, and reducing the stigma around mental health. Read Hannah’s talk recap here.

We’ll see you on the road,

Nation, Emily, Hannah and Molly

EdNC reads

UNC System’s 2022 Virtual Mental Health Conference Calls for Statewide Collaboration

According to a 2021 report from the Mayo Clinic Health System, more than 44% of college students report symptoms of depression and anxiety, and suicide is their third leading cause of death.

These “alarming statistics” were presented by North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) President Thomas Stith at the UNC System’s 2022 Behavioral Health Virtual Meeting last month. The event, also sponsored by the NCCCS and Independent Colleges and Universities of North Carolina, was held March 30-31 to discuss ideas and best practices for supporting student mental health statewide.

“Supporting the mental health of our students is paramount to their success,” Stith said at the conference. “As we emerge from the pandemic and build momentum for a great comeback, the mental health toll our students face will need to be addressed.”

The multi-session seminar brought together leaders from across the state, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kody Kinsley and Nash Community College Marbeth Holmes.

Here are some takeaways from the call:

  • Colleges must prepare to meet students’ mental health needs, the speakers said, and they should work together to do so. Colleges can provide accessible mental health resources, mental health faculty training, and financial support for students.
  • The pandemic continues to impact the mental health of students and staff and should be factored into these conversations. The demand for college counseling services continues to grow, usually at rates much higher than a college’s enrollment growth. Adequate funding for the requested resources is important.
  • Expanding insurance could play a big role in helping more students, Kinsley said.
  • Colleges should focus on connecting students to resources, instead of focusing primarily on reducing the stigma around mental health.

Read the full summary of the summons by Hannah McClellan here.

Around North Carolina

Other higher education reading

UNC system adopts new budget model based on student achievement, not enrollment

The UNC system is changing its funding model. For years, the system has relied on registration for funding. From now on, they will be funded based on student performance and success. The UNC System Board of Governors last week approved the new funding model, which will be fully implemented in fiscal year 2024.

How it works?

According to the News and Observer, “The new model calculates the amount of money allocated by the state based on how well institutions meet state, system, and campus policy goals and metrics instead of enrollment growth. Campuses will receive more equitable funding for similar instruction.

State money will be allocated per credit hour and will only go to in-state students. The tuition fees will cover the fees for international students. The revised model recognizes that credit hours are more valuable to the state if student performance improves. Schools will also now receive funding for summer courses for resident students.

Community colleges help students cope with rising inflation

Across the country, community colleges are helping students cope with rising inflation. Some colleges offer free breakfast, while others offer gas gift cards or discounted public transit passes. And to help cover textbook costs, several colleges have started using open educational resources.

“We are already a tense sector. Even before COVID and the loss of enrollment, we have always been underfunded and our students have been marginalized and neglected. Now you add COVID, you add inflation and other pressures, and an already strained industry is trying to absorb it all,” says Dr. Karen Stout, President of Achieving the Dream (ATD).

Hahn Nation

Nation Hahn is the Director of Growth for EducationNC.

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