COMPLETION BY DESIGN GRANT WILL CONTINUE UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF GUILFORD TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE
JAMESTOWN, NC – Guilford Technical Community College has been awarded a $4.3 million dollar Completion by Design grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue its focus on increasing the graduation rates of community college students. In May of 2011, GTCC was awarded a $495,000 planning grant to develop a two-year implementation plan. The latest award follows the submission of an implementation proposal to the Gates Foundation in April and a visit to GTCC in June by Foundation officials.
GTCC is the managing partner leading five North Carolina community colleges involved in Completion by Design, a five-year effort to significantly increase completion and graduation rates for low-income students ages 18 to 26.
The other community colleges participating in the grant are Central Piedmont Community College, Davidson County Community College, Martin Community College, and Wake Technical Community College. The North Carolina Community College System Office is also a key partner in this grant.
GTCC was selected to lead the North Carolina Cadre because of its past success with Achieving the Dream (ATD) and the Developmental Education Initiative (DEI). Both of these programs aim to improve student success rates by designing innovative approaches to student services and instruction, rigorously researching the results of those approaches, and making adjustments based on that data.
GTCC was one of the original participants in the Achieving the Dream initiative, which began in 2004 and is now designated as a Leader College. In 2010, GTCC was recognized with the Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award, given annually to an Achieving the Dream college that demonstrates excellence in supporting and increasing student success among low-income students.
During the past year, the North Carolina Cadre studied the student success work already underway on its campuses and around the nation. In addition, they analyzed five years of student data and reviewed major research being conducted nationally. Based on that work, the cadre proposed new student pathways which are more clearly defined and provide more student support services from admission to graduation.
GTCC President Randy Parker announced this award and congratulated the planning team for its work over the past year: “The entire planning team, composed of representatives from all five colleges and the system office, has worked effectively over the past year and produced an outstanding implementation plan. I particularly want to recognize the leadership of my fellow presidents at the other four community colleges and the support of Dr. Scott Ralls, President of the North Carolina Community College System.”
Coy Williard, Chair of the GTCC Board of Trustees called the award “a major milestone in GTCC’s history. GTCC and the North Carolina Cadre are again being recognized as leaders in the student success movement within community colleges. Our trustees spend as much time discussing our student success initiatives as we do deliberating about budgets and building plans. The Completion by Design team has our full support.”
Enrollment in North Carolina’s community colleges has increased dramatically over the past few years with more recent high school graduates and older students enrolling to improve their skills.
“While North Carolina’s community colleges were established on a belief in access,” said Dr. Parker, “we must clearly give more attention to student success. Success is important to our students, and their success is important to our ability to restore jobs and improve the economy.”
Dr. Scott Ralls, President of the NC Community College System, also congratulated the North Carolina Cadre on its planning work and successful proposal. ”With representatives from all five cadre colleges, our planning team has worked diligently for the past year, and the Gates Foundation award is recognition of the quality of their work. I look forward to beginning the implementation of our new student success pathway to ensure that students entering our doors remain engaged, overcome barriers and leave our colleges with the skills and credentials that will allow them to find gainful employment to support themselves and their families.”
Guilford Technical Community College is the third largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves around 45,000 students annually from four major campuses and three specialized centers.