Golden LEAF Grant Supports PCC-PCS Technical Academy

WINTERVILLE—The Pitt Community College-Pitt County Schools Technical Academy received a significant financial boost from Golden LEAF Foundation this month that will allow the program to a hire staff member and serve additional students.

During a special event on campus Jan. 10, Golden LEAF presented a $200,000-check to PCC and Pitt County Schools (PCS) administrators. The funding will be used to hire a project director to oversee the academy, which offers Pitt County high school students an opportunity to earn college credits and high-demand workforce credentials.

“Golden LEAF is proud to support a program that provides students with the knowledge and skills to be employed in quality jobs upon completion of high school,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President and Chief Executive Officer. “Golden LEAF’s award will help train students for jobs, fill local employer needs and prepare students for success in completing an associate degree.”

The academy began in 2018 as a pilot program serving 20 students, who were bussed to PCC’s campus from Ayden-Grifton and South Central high schools. Due to significant student interest and the academy’s initial success, PCC President Lawrence Rouse and Pitt County Schools Superintendent Ethan Lenker signed an agreement last spring expanding the program.

As a result, 43 juniors and seniors representing all six Pitt County public high schools participated in the academy during the 2019 Fall Semester. The students took PCC courses in either Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology, Electrical Systems Technology, Computer Integrated Machining or Industrial Systems Technology – programs not offered at their respective high schools.

Each program offered through the academy provides skills that can quickly lead to employment after graduation in stable careers that feature higher-than-average starting wages. Local businesses and industries are supporting the academy by offering students tours of their facilities, speaking with them at job fairs, and interviewing academy graduates.

Rouse says the academy represents an innovative means of promoting workforce development in Pitt County. “The PCC-PCS Technical Academy is a critical program for our industry partners, who have identified the need to fill positions created by retiring workers,” he said, adding that local employers have indicated they will need to fill more than 600 job openings within the next five years.

For Lenker, the PCC-PCS Technical Academy is a valuable community partnership. He expressed his appreciation for the recent financial support that the program and technical education, in general, have received from several charitable organizations, including the N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation and, most recently, Golden LEAF.

“The additional support from the Golden LEAF Foundation to enhance the leadership arm of the tech academy ensures the program’s strength and sustainability,” Lenker said. “Thank you to all of those involved for not only investing in the future of our students but also in the future of our community through contributing to such innovative and strategic workforce development.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation was established in 1999 to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through funding the state receives from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. Over the past 20 years, the nonprofit organization has contributed to the improvement of North Carolina’s economy by helping create 64,000 jobs, more than $500 billion in new payrolls, and more than 77,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.