Beginning in May 2021, Sampson County was selected by myFutureNC, ncIM PACT at the UNC School of Government, and the John M. Belk Endowment as one of 15 Local education attainment collaboratives (LEAC) to pilot a project that brings together education systems and the regional economy. The intent behind the grant was to provide funding and professional resources to establish leadership for collaboratives to better align education and training with regional workforce needs.

2022 08 23 Sampson Connect logo
Sampson Connect Branding Logo designed by Cheyenne McNeil

Funded by the John M. Belk Endowment, this opportunity comes at a time when education to career opportunities are not always clear. The overall goal is for North Carolina to support the legislative goal of 2 million individuals ages 25 to 44 possessing a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030.

Lisa Turlington, Dean of Advancement at Sampson Community College (SCC) and Sampson Connect Project Manager, stated that “Sampson Connect recognizes much of the good work being done in education and training for the local workforce. By breaking down silos and improving communication, educators, business leaders, government officials, and nonprofit leaders can work across boundaries to better leverage community assets for a stronger workforce. Sampson Connect can identify programs and organizations already doing the work and help them collectively streamline training opportunities and career pathways for students in Sampson County.”

The Core Sampson Connect team consist of Lisa Turlington, Dean of Advancement at SCC; Dr. Wesley Johnson, Superintendent of Clinton City Schools; Stephen Barrington, Executive Director of Sampson County Economic Development Commission; Chuck Spell, Director of Manufacturing at HOGSLAT Inc.; and Margaret Turlington, Director of the Simple Gifts Fund/Anonymous Trust. The Core team established a guiding framing question: Imagine if every person in our community aspired to dream and achieve successful career and academic goals. What would it look like? An early goal was set to better communicate pathways through education to careers, and a pathfinder project of highlighting local influencers who went through local systems and are thriving in the local workforce. Star Communication is working with the LEAC to produce videos that will be shared in the coming months.

MyFutureNC has hosted four Forums to help guide the collaborative work, and regional impact managers are a resource for each LEAC. Toni Blount, formerly of Clinton, is the regional impact manager for Sampson Connect.

As part of the grant, Sampson Connect can work alongside specialists from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke to help guide the initiative to accomplish its goal – address the skill gaps in Sampson County between education and workforce. This includes coaching sessions to help guide conversation for committee members, workshop meetings to talk through program planning, and direct access to a regional impact manager to oversee the progress during the funding period.

Sampson Connect Members have a round-table discussion with Robin Jenkins from UNC- Chapel Hill on August 3, 2022 at Sampson Community College.
Sampson Connect Members have a round-table discussion with Robin Jenkins from UNC- Chapel Hill on August 3, 2022 at Sampson Community College.

“These collaboratives offer an organized way to respond to future work challenges that no single institution or even an entire sector can effectively tackle,” remarked Anita Brown-Graham, UNC Chapel Hill professor and director of the ncIMPACT Initiative. “We are eager to begin this important work together.”

At this stage of development, Sampson Connect is working to engage stakeholders in meaningful ways to increase access to high quality work credentials. If you are interested in becoming involved with Sampson Connect, please contact Lisa Turlington at Sampson Community College or Alice Butler at the Town of Roseboro.

About Sampson Community College

Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education.