Impact Stories

Boosting Community College Completion

March 6, 2015

Community colleges are at the center of new national efforts to educate more students for the jobs of tomorrow.  There is a bipartisan focus on these institutions, highlighted recently by President Obama’s proposal to eliminate community college tuition, and by advocacy from N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, who has called North Carolina’s 58 community colleges the driver behind the state’s economic recovery and ability to attract well-paying jobs. “We know community colleges are a direct link to a better life for students from all kinds of backgrounds, and that they produce skilled workers that industries need,” said Dr. Scott Ralls, President of the N.C. Community College System.  “Our goal is not only to get more students through our registration lines but also across our graduation stages, with skills they – and our industries – need to succeed.” In support of this focused effort, the John M. Belk Endowment has awarded $9.6 million to community colleges and their partners across North Carolina to help more students complete degrees that lead to sustainable wages and strengthen the state’s workforce. The largest grant of $7.75 million will bring a college completion program called Single Stop to North Carolina, which uses technology, training and counseling to connect students with community and government resources they might be eligible for but aren’t getting.  Finances are the biggest stumbling block for many students, so helping them become more financially stable increases their chances of completing a degree that leads to a better job. Over three years, the Single Stop grant will pay for start-up and software development costs and implementation of services at more than a dozen sites, including community colleges, veterans’ centers and historically black colleges in North Carolina.

The additional John M. Belk Endowment grants will fund community college and state initiatives in leadership development, the creation of career pathways, and outreach to attract more students and entice adults who have completed some college to finish their degrees and other credentials. Following is a full listing of how these grants have been allocated:

Community College Photo_Single Stop 03062015

“The John M. Belk Endowment recognizes community colleges play a vital role in getting more North Carolinians into family sustaining jobs,” said executive director Kristy Teskey. “In a state with the America’s third largest community college system, the Endowment will continue to invest in their efforts to get more students through credentialing programs equipped with skills they need to excel in the jobs of tomorrow.”