With an investment from the John M. Belk Foundation, EducationNC (EdNC) is taking an in-depth look at how they can support community college development in the state. Both organizations are dedicated to the betterment of North Carolina education, as well as students’ access to meaningful employment. In an effort to understand the integral role of community colleges, EdNC and the John M. Belk Foundation are touring campuses across the state. “In partnership with EdNC, we have embarked on a community college listening tour to visit each campus, meet with leaders and students, and better understand the role that community colleges are playing across North Carolina,” said M.C. Belk Pilon, chairman of the Belk Endowment. Pilon, along with EdNC Chief Growth Officer Nation Hahn, toured Forsyth Tech on July 18, 2018, meeting with various departments and their staff members. The group met with faculty members and students, including Sam McCart and John Belk, a married couple who both attended Forsyth Tech to pursue careers in welding. (Read more about the couple’s life-altering career changes in the story to the right.) As part of their ongoing investigation of community colleges, EdNC embarked on Awake 58—a week in which the staff visited all 58 community colleges in the state. One of the visitors was Yasmin Bendaas, EdNC science writer and community engagement specialist. Bendaas visited Forsyth Tech on August 31, 2018 and learned about a variety of programs, from cybersecurity to nursing, broadcast, digital effects and animation, and automotive systems. She also interviewed Dr. Gary Green and Dr. Joel Welch, president and vice president of instructional services, about how Forsyth Tech is committed to individual students, their course completion, and future success. Visitors have been pleased with what they’ve witnessed and learned at community colleges like Forsyth Tech, including Pilon. “We are continually impressed by the diverse role each institution is playing in serving their local community,” Bendaas said. Both EdNC and the Belk Endowment continue to help colleges like Forsyth Tech improve post-secondary education, which strengthens the workforce and, in turn, attracts and creates more jobs in the state. These partnerships are a win-win for everyone involved.