[Clinton, N.C.] –  Through a partnership between Lenoir, James Sprunt, Wayne, and Sampson Community Colleges, the local institutions were recently awarded $1 million from the Anonymous Trust in support of a new, two-year Latino Initiative entitled ‘Train the East.’ Each community college will receive $250,000 to be used over the two years.

The ‘Train the East’ initiative is part of a wider state collaboration, myFutureNC, a state project that aims to close the educational attainment gap and provide academic credentials for North Carolinians. The four community colleges will recruit, train, and support students from Latino communities in rural eastern North Carolina, building a skilled and credentialed workforce for Lenoir, Greene, Jones, Duplin, Sampson, and Wayne counties.

Funds will be used to provide a full-time outreach recruiter/success coach, as well as offer student scholarships to help with tuition, books, and other fees at each of the respective colleges.

“Over the past few months, we have been fortunate to work with the leadership of James Sprunt, Lenoir, and Wayne Community Colleges in developing a regional partnership focusing on the workforce needs of our growing Latino communities in Lenoir, Greene, Jones, Duplin, Sampson, and Wayne counties,” says SCC President, Dr. Bill Starling. “We have been fortunate to have the shared vision and advocacy of Cecilia Holden from myFutureNC and the very generous support of the Anonymous Trust to make this regional workforce development initiative possible.”

Starling looks forward to working with community partners from across the county and region in developing new and accessible courses and programs focusing on our regional training needs.

“This gift will allow SCC to better serve our Hispanic communities seeking training and education and meet the needs of our regional employers closing the gap in high demand labor force skills.”

Dr. Bill Starling Anticipated

Cecilia Holden, CEO of myFutureNC, explained that the Hispanic student population in NC Public Schools has increased 41 percent in the last 10 years, while the total population in public schools has decreased 4 percent. According to Holden, many of the parents of these Hispanic students, as well as other Hispanic adults in the local community, have not obtained higher levels of education.

Based on current trends, 209,000 of the 290,000 Hispanic students enrolled in NC Public Schools will not go on to receive a postsecondary degree or industry-valued credential either. However, Holden said while the data shows that Hispanic students are enrolling in college at lower rates, those who do enroll are completing at rates at or above the statewide average.

She concluded, “Therefore, it’s important to increase awareness of educational opportunities and remove barriers to entry for these students. The ‘Train the East’ initiative aligns well with the State’s goal of two million by 2030, with a focus on increasing the number of Latino students who enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs. We are grateful to Anonymous Trust for supporting this partnership between Lenoir, James Sprunt, Sampson, and Wayne Community Colleges.”

This unique collaboration is a result of the Go Global Latino Pipeline Initiative where representatives of education, economic development, business, government, etc. from the six counties, as well as leadership from myFutureNC, visited Mexico to open the lines of communication to help meet educational needs.

“This travel experience was life-changing for the entire team,” said Margaret Turlington of the Anonymous Trust. “I have loved seeing the partnership between the four community colleges and the team spirit of helping each other.”

Sampson CC is immensely grateful to the Anonymous Trust for their support and looks forward to partnering with Lenoir, James Sprunt, and Wayne community colleges to ‘Train the East’ in support of Latino/Hispanic students gaining greater access to higher education in NC.  

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. SCC is committed to the principles of equal educational and employment opportunities for all.