National nonprofit InsideTrack will work with ten N.C. community colleges to help adult learners return to higher education; 750+ students re-enrolled in 2021
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 14, 2022) –The NC Reconnect initiative, a coalition of North Carolina higher education organizations and community colleges, announced results from the first year of an ambitious statewide initiative focused on deploying student success coaches to help former students who have stopped out to re-enroll in higher education. Building on the outcomes from its successful first year, the program will expand to serve a cohort of five additional community and technical colleges throughout the state: Caldwell Community College, Central Carolina Community College, Forsyth Technical Community College, Lenoir Community College, and Wilkes Community College.
“For adult learners, returning to higher education can be a highly complex and deeply personal decision that we too often simplify. Instead, we need to create a personalized pathway for adult learner re-engagement that considers the whole student and his/her individual needs – financially, educationally, and professionally,” said Dr. Lawrence Rouse, president of Pitt Community College. “These outcomes demonstrate that coaching is a powerful resource that can assist with meeting both the complex needs of returning students as well as unlock avenues to educational and career advancement for adult learners.”
NC Reconnect launched in 2021—in collaboration with student coaching nonprofit InsideTrack and with generous funding from John M. Belk Endowment and Strada Education Network—with the goal of re-engaging up to 12,000 North Carolina adult learners. While North Carolina has made progress toward its ambitious attainment goal of 66% for adults ages 25-44 by 2030, currently only 52.1% of residents have earned a postsecondary degree or certificate. In North Carolina alone, there are more than 1 million adults with some college, but no degree or credential, 33.8% of whom are under 35 years of age and 53.5% are between 35 and 64.
Results from the first year of the program were highly promising. Participating campuses have already successfully re-enrolled 753 stopped-out students, 68% of whom either completed their degree or credential or persisted on to the next term.
The coaching engagement began in 2021 through an initial pilot program with five North Carolina community colleges: Pitt Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Vance-Granville Community College, and Durham Technical Community College. With the addition of the second cohort, a total of ten community colleges across the Tarheel State will work with InsideTrack to help former students navigate the complexities of re-enrollment, re-enter their virtual and physical campuses, and develop a plan to complete their degrees.
“In the decade to come, the state is projected to fall short of the skilled workforce needed to support a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse state economy,” said MC Belk Pilon, president and board chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “Community colleges are at the core of our workforce development strategy, as they are uniquely positioned to help reach the more than 1 million North Carolinians with some college and no credentials. NC Reconnect is not only generating results: it’s providing insights that will enhance our understanding of how to drive re-enrollment at scale.”
Studies continue to show that North Carolina community colleges generate a powerful return on investment, both to individual students and the broader state economy. A recent Lightcase analysis found that North Carolinians who complete an associate degree over a high school diploma will earn a projected $255,000 in additional earnings over their working lifetime. Each year, North Carolina’s community colleges also deliver an impressive $19 billion positive impact on the state’s economy.
The NC Reconnect effort has received support from key statewide higher education groups such as the North Carolina Community College System Office, the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, the University of North Carolina System Office, and MyFutureNC, a college access nonprofit which focuses on reaching North Carolina’s educational attainment goal of 2 million high-quality credentials or postsecondary degrees by 2030.
“At a time when returning students and adult learners continue to navigate economic uncertainty, community and technical colleges can offer affordable and effective pathways to better jobs and better skills,” said Carrie Lockhert, associate vice president of partner success at InsideTrack. “This work is surfacing new insights into the barriers to student re-engagement that will help community colleges across the state better reach and meet the needs of adult learners.”
Participating colleges are now in the process of re-enrolling students to start during the fall 2022 term.
About InsideTrack: InsideTrack is passionate about helping all learners achieve their education and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. Since 2001, we’ve served 2.6 million learners, partnering with more than 250 institutions and organizations to directly improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our coaching methodology is evidence-based and research-confirmed, with proven outcomes for every type of learner — from traditional to adult, part-time to full-time, online to in-person — including first generation students and those who face systemic barriers to postsecondary success. We also work with partners to build internal coaching capacity through staff training and professional services — designed to sustain advances in-house for lasting, scalable impact. InsideTrack is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. To learn more, visit www.insidetrack.org and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack and LinkedIn @InsideTrack.
About the John M. Belk Endowment: Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to transforming postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. Its mission is aligned with the vision of its founder, the late John M. Belk who served four terms as mayor of Charlotte and was CEO of the department store company Belk, Inc. He created the John M. Belk Endowment in 1995 to fund a national merit scholarship program for his beloved alma mater, Davidson College. Now led by Mr. Belk’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the John M. Belk Endowment staff and board continue to partner with innovative, results-oriented programs in North Carolina to further Mr. Belk’s values, legacy, and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality. For more information, please visit jmbendowment.org.
About Strada Education Network: Strada Education Network is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people take advantage of education and training after high school that helps them secure a good job, do meaningful work, and lead a fulfilling life. We believe education and training after high school have the potential to be the most powerful and equitable ways to help all people thrive in their careers and lives. To help students succeed beyond completion of a certificate or degree, we conduct research, make charitable grants and social impact investments, and support Strada Collaborative, which directly serves students and workers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.