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Program at Central Carolina could become state model

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Click to enlarge,  Kirk Bradley, Chairman, President & C.E.O. of Lee-Moore Capital Company

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Kirk Bradley, Chairman, President & C.E.O. of Lee-Moore Capital Company

04.01.2015College & CommunityCollege General

By Kathryn Trogdon, The Sanford Herald

Published April 1, 2015

SANFORD - Central Carolina Works, a public-private initiative aimed at increasing enrollment in the state's Career and College Promise Program, soon could be implemented statewide after a Senate Bill was filed recently at the N.C. General Assembly.

Established last year, Central Carolina Works funds the placement of academic and career advisers in public high schools throughout Lee, Harnett and Chatham counties. The advisers assist students in taking advantage of the state-funded Career and College Promise Program, which allows students to enroll tuition-free in college credit courses that also apply to their high school diploma.

Senate Bill 535, the N.C. Works Career Coaches bill, would establish the Central Carolina Works program statewide by placing community college career coaches in high schools to "assist students with determining career goals and identifying community college programs that would enable students to achieve these goals."

"I believe that Central Carolina Community College and Lee, Harnett and Chatham counties have stumbled upon a great program that will offer more opportunities to our career and technical students," said Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, who sponsored the bill. "I've filed a bill to expand that program to other parts of the state with the hope that we can connect our students to good-paying jobs as soon as possible."

Although Central Carolina Works is less than a year old, Kirk Bradley, chairman, president and CEO of Lee-Moore Capital Company who spearheaded the fundraising for the program, said there already had been a significant increase in enrollment in college credit courses aimed toward technical careers and college transfer pathways. He said when the program began last fall, only 5 percent of students in Lee, Chatham and Harnett county schools were enrolled in these courses.

"We projected the program would become self-sustaining if we could get the program from 5 percent to 15 percent," he said.

Not even a full school year later, Bradley said the number of students enrolled in these college credit courses already had risen to 11 percent.

"We've been pleasantly surprised how fast that has been adapted. We're just really getting started," he said. "We think if a student has organized their schedule, they can get an entire year of college either towards a four-year degree or certificate or program."

Bradley said it was exciting that Central Carolina Works could be the model for a statewide program.

"I think it's an essential element," he said. "Workforce development is the key to North Carolina having a successful economy."

Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant said while the program already had exceed his expectations, he hoped to see even more progress.

"We are really looking for a big increase in the fall of this year," he said.