CPCC receives additional $4.3 million Completion by Design Grant funding

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In May 2011, five North Carolina colleges – Central Piedmont Community College, Guilford Technical Community College, Davidson County Community College, Martin Community College and Wake Technical Community College – began collaborating as part of a national effort to devise and share new approaches to help more young people obtain a degree, certificate or credential. At the time, the five schools shared a $500,000, 12-month planning grant to launch a five-year project in North Carolina. In recognition of the team’s progress to date, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded the participating colleges a two-year, $4.3 million Completion by Design grant to continue its focus on increasing graduation rates among community college students.

This new funding will allow the North Carolina Completion By Design partners to continue to research and develop a comprehensive plan, or student pathway, over the next year that will increase the number of low income, young adults who complete their college education. The plan will bepiloted at the five colleges in 2014 and eventually scaled up across the state in partnership with the North Carolina Community College System.

Since 2011, the North Carolina Completion By Design partners have conducted planning sessions and data analysis that has resulted in thedevelopment of a student pathway that includes: significantly redesigned and more prescriptive programs of study; a reduction in the number of students referred to developmental education, accelerating the movement of referred students; an intentional review and redesign of student service practices and processes; the implementation and use of technology; and local and statewide policy changes that support this new initiative. These proposed changes will provide students with clearer career exploration opportunities, intentionalguidance and counseling, and more.

“CPCC is extremely honored to be a part of this elite team,” said Richard Zollinger, vice president for Learning at CPCC. “Our participation will help us provide students with the direction they need to be a successful college student, which includes helping them set achievable career goals, utilize the College’s support services and adequately prepare to transition to the workforce or a four-year institution.”

The North Carolina partnership is one of four chosen for the Completion by Design project. Thecolleges were selected because of their innovative ideas on improving the completion rates on their campuses. They were picked for the project after a rigorous competition that was announced in October 2010 at the White House Summit on Community Colleges.

Completion by Design aims to build on proven, existing practices already underway at these forward-thinking community colleges which are already working to address the needs of today’s students. They are doing this by focusing on new approaches to areas such as financial aid counseling, course scheduling and advising.

Today, community colleges serve nearly 11 million students, and enrollment has surged as the recession caused many Americans to return for additional training and education. Community colleges also are evolving to serve today’s students, who often are older and work full- or part-time to support families while attending school to obtain a degree or credential.

It’s vital that these students achieve their education goals. A report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts that, by 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require at least
some postsecondary education. The report also shows that, without a dramatic change in course, the labor market will be short three million educated workers over the next eight years.

The North Carolina Completion By Design initiative will focus on the entire student experience from intake to completion and will build on the interdisciplinary work and strong connections between the five colleges involved.

About Central Piedmont Community College

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering close to 300 degree and certification programs, customized corporate training, market-focused continuing education, and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the National Alliance of Business named CPCC the Community College of the Year for its response to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational and training strategies.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H.Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org or join the conversation at Facebook and Twitter.

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