For Technical and Community Colleges, The Time Is Now
The North Carolina Community College System is currently celebrating a year-long celebration of its 50th Anniversary. An estimated 840,000 students were enrolled at one of the 58 community colleges last academic year, which accounts for 1 in 9 North Carolinians aged 18 and older. In South Carolina, more than 50% of undergraduates in public higher education are enrolled in the SC Technical College System.
As we covered in our post back in July, the community case for technical and community colleges has never been stronger. And yet, during this time of increased importance, North Carolina’s community college budget remains under attack. In 2011, its budget was cut 10 percent at the same time enrollment increased 26 percent. The State is facing a budget deficit of $2 billion in the 2013 fiscal year—nearly 12 percent of the overall budget— and elected officials are facing increasingly tough decisions about public spending. One need only look to South Carolina, which is a few years ahead of North Carolina in cuts to community college funding.
Like their four-year cousins, many of NC’s and SC’s technical and community colleges have separate foundations that are unencumbered to raise private dollars from individuals, companies and foundations. But too few of these foundations are working from a strategic revenue development plan, and those that are may need to rethink their strategies.
After a half-century of providing industry-specific training to attract new employers, technical and community colleges throughout the Carolinas have a great, underutilized tool for sustainability right on campus. Unleashing the power of their supporting foundations takes planning, intentionality and a new perspective. PMA can help.