PITTSBORO - Students in Chatham County public schools will soon have a new program and skilled advisors to help them advance their academic and vocational education, thanks to an $800,000 Education and Workforce Innovation Fund grant.
The five-year grant, from the North Carolina Education and Workforce Innovation Commission, was awarded jointly to the Chatham, Harnett and Lee public school districts in collaboration with Central Carolina Community College.
The grant was one of 11 awarded to school districts throughout the state for "strengthening successful, innovative education programs that combine academic rigor and skills development with the goal of graduating every student both college and career ready," according to the announcement from Gov. Pat McCrory's office.
For Chatham, Harnett and Lee, the "successful, innovative education" program is Central Carolina Works, an initiative developed by a consortium of education, business and government leaders spanning the tri-county area.
The grant complements almost $750,000 in Central Carolina Works funding raised from private, government, corporate and foundation donors in the area.
Central Carolina Works is a public-private partnership, a multi-pronged effort to enable the school districts and college to advance more effectively the educational and vocational goals of high school students. The funding will pay for the placement of Academic and Career Advisors in each of the public high schools in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties, at no cost to the schools or school districts.
The advisors will have two primary functions: direct student counseling and professional development/curriculum enhancement. They will work one-on-one with students and their families to help them take advantage of the state-funded Career and College Promise program. The CCP provides high school students the opportunity to enroll, tuition-free, in college credit courses that also apply toward their high school diploma. By the time they graduate from high school, they have a jump-start on a career or college pathway.
Currently, only about 5 percent of eligible high school students in CCCC's service area of Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties take advantage of the Career and College Promise program. The goal of Central Carolina Works is to have all of the approximately 11,000 high school students in the tri-county area aware of and involved in community college courses, tuition-free, before they graduate high school.
The advisors will be employed, trained, and supervised by Central Carolina Community College in close collaboration with each school district. They will receive specialized training in the needs of first-generation college students and other historically underrepresented groups. They will also coordinate closely with existing programs in the schools, such as AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and Upward Bound.
"We are thrilled to be embarking on this exciting journey with the implementation of Central Carolina Works, said Dr. Derrick Jordan, Chatham County Schools superintendent. "Not only will our students have additional resources to help them plan and prepare for life after graduation, but we also hope to expand their opportunities to receive college credit for courses while still enrolled in high school. This is an exciting initiative that will undoubtably have a positive impact on our students. I am grateful to our community funders and the Education and Workforce Innovation Fund grant for making this possible."
In addition to working directly with students and their families, the funding from the Education and Workforce Innovation Fund grant will enable the Career and College Advisors to serve as the primary coordinators of a sustained professional development program that connects schools and classrooms with local business and industry.
Economic development corporations and chambers of commerce in each county are already Central Carolina Works collaborators. Working with them, advisors will facilitate summer conferences, campus and site visits, and classroom lectures that educate faculty and administrators on opportunities in the local workforce and the skills and knowledge that they require.
Advisors will also facilitate occupational "themesters," or thematic semesters. EDCs will identify an occupational field of importance in their area and then work with the advisors and faculty to develop classroom content linked to the chosen occupation.
"The enthusiastic and generous support of Central Carolina Works by the EWIF and many others is a testament to both the need for and the confidence in the educational institutions of the local area to train our young people to be successful, whatever their educational and vocational goals," said Dr. Bud Marchant, president of Central Carolina Community College. "Central Carolina Works will ensure that our area public high schools, the community college, and the wider community are working together to provide opportunities for the students and to strengthen the regional and state economies."
For more information about Central Carolina Works, visit www.cccc.edu/ccworks.
Contributions to the Central Carolina Works initiative can be made to the CCCC Foundation. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization affiliated with, but independent of, Central Carolina Community College. It receives donations of money and equipment on behalf of CCCC and uses them to promote the educational mission of the college and assist students through scholarships and grants. For information on giving, call 919-718-7230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a Northwood High School graduation, a student wears the colored cords of honor earned through success in high school studies. In the fall, each of Chatham County's public high schools will have a Central Carolina Works Academic and Career Advisor. The advisor will work with students and parents on pathways for the students to successfully move forward toward their academic and vocational goals, including dual-enrollment at Central Carolina Community College. Chatham County Schools, jointly with Harnett and Lee county schools and CCCC, has received an $800,000 N.C. Education and Workforce Innovation Fund grant to help fund the Central Carolina Works initiative. The grant complements almost $750,000 raised locally for the initiative from private, government, corporate and foundation donors.