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Hazael Andrew | December 3, 2019

From November 13-14 at UNC-Chapel Hill, 84 educators from 29 community colleges in North Carolina gathered to confront one of the most significant issues in the world today – poverty. In 2017, nearly 40 million people lived below the poverty line in the United States, 12.8 of the 40 million were children (Poverty Solutions, University of Michigan). Similar trends exist globally with 9.8 percent of the world living on less than $2 a day (Poverty Cycle, 2018). This symposium not only underscored these concerning statistics about poverty, but it took a solution-focused approach by providing recommendations on the role of North Carolina community colleges in confronting poverty.

UNC Professor Anita Brown-Graham presents on Pathways to Mobility at the 2019 Community College Symposium

With IBM as the signature sponsor, the 2019 community college symposium demonstrated the significance of partnerships between educational institutions and industry to address issues facing local and global communities. In the opening keynote session, Dr. Maureen Berner, a professor at UNC’s school of government who researches food insecurity, discussed what community college educators can do to work with students who are food insecure, and she illuminated what students think would help in these circumstances through her extensive research. Other critical topics such as health, pathways to mobility, food pantry, global poverty trends, effective poverty simulation, and climate change were examined via keynote speeches and break-out sessions facilitated by UNC-Chapel Hill and community college educators, students, and organizations throughout the community.

To demonstrate the numerous ways community college leaders can work with stakeholders to address poverty, the symposium featured a panel discussion with two community college presidents and a dean. In addition to discussing the significance of the symposium, strategies to combat poverty locally were explored. Educators left the symposium energized and excited to try new initiatives on their campus. One educator shared the following after returning to her campus, “This was such an important event. I have already put into practice one of the ideas from a workshop I attended.”

We at World View are looking forward to witnessing the many ways the knowledge gained from this symposium will positively impact community college students across North Carolina.