HAMLET — Richmond Community College and Richmond County Schools have received support from the Golden Leaf Foundation by way of a $750,000 grant that will be put toward initiatives to improve the college and career readiness of local high school students.
The partnership will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM courses, with an emphasis on mathematics. RCC and Richmond County Schools will also work together to increase the percentage of high school students who take college level courses through RCC’s Career and College Promise program.
“I appreciate the investment the Golden Leaf board has made in the partnership between RCC and Richmond County Schools,” said Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RCC. “This project will be a game-changer for our students and serve as a model for other colleges and schools.”
“Richmond County Schools is honored to partner with Richmond Community College on this community based initiative grant,” said Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent for Richmond County Schools. “Exciting opportunities are on the horizon for our students and math teachers as a result of the generous grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation. STEM skills serve as a catalyst for excellent educational experiences and jobs. Our Richmond County future is bright.”
“The Golden Leaf Foundation is a strong proponent of efforts to support economic growth in our tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural communities,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden Leaf President. “The grant will help Richmond Community College and Richmond County Schools partner to create a STEM Transformation project for students from middle school to college. The project will improve college and career readiness of students and help meet industry demand for skilled employees.”
Several activities have been identified through the grant to accomplish the goal of removing barriers to academic success and creating opportunities for high school students to earn college credit, preparing them for the growing number of high-skill, high-wage STEM-related jobs.
The grant will fund a digital program to replace traditional middle and high school math textbooks, allowing for use of an inquiry-based approach to engage students and make real world connections. Discovery Education will provide training for all Richmond County middle and high school math teachers to ensure a smooth transition to digital learning.
RCC and Richmond County Schools will also work closely with local industry leaders to identify essential math skills, making those skills a primary focus of the middle school, high school and college curricula. The Golden Leaf grant also allows for internship opportunities to allow students to experience first-hand the career opportunities available after high school.
Another change in teaching methods will include application-based, hands-on projects linking math and science to real world events. STEM camps will also be offered during the summer and on Saturdays during the school year to promote the importance of learning science and math.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17 percent, while other occupational fields are growing at less than 10 percent.
The Golden Leaf Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. Until 2013, the foundation received one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state.
The Golden Leaf Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,334 grants worth more than $588 million since its inception.
To learn more about applying for a grant, visit www.goldenleaf.org or call 888-684-8404.