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Regional Better Skills. Better Jobs. Campaign Launched to Attract More Adult Learners Back to College

Blue Ridge Community College, John M. Belk Endowment, and myFutureNC are working together to better address the needs of local employers and adult students.

“After a year of challenges like no other, we know most adults understand it’s time to skill up, retool, and retrain – either to advance in their current careers or to change careers entirely,” said Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College. “So we are making an extra push this summer to reach out to and inform as many adults as possible about the variety of fast, flexible, and affordable programs we offer.

“From advanced manufacturing to business and IT, to public safety, and many more, our courses are a direct pipeline to many of our region’s top employers,” said Dr. Leatherwood. “That’s why we hope everyone will connect with us today and explore all of the opportunities we offer that can lead to better skills, a better job, a bigger paycheck, and an even brighter future.”

Blue Ridge Community College, the source for education and training in Henderson and Transylvania Counties, offers more than 100 degrees, diplomas, and certificates in 30 different areas of study to prepare students for successful careers in nursing, automotive technology, law enforcement, emergency response, engineering technology, machining technology, and many more.

This fall, Blue Ridge Community College is also offering Brighter Future scholarships that cover tuition, fees, and books to eligible students for Fall Semester 2021 and Spring Semester 2022. More information about this free college opportunity and how adults can apply can be found here.

The Better Skills. Better Jobs. campaign announced earlier this summer is a pilot project launched in early 2021 across five North Carolina community colleges to proactively reach out to and attract more adults back to college. Other key funders and partners for the initiative include the John M. Belk Endowment and MyFutureNC.

“The John M. Belk Endowment is pleased to partner with Blue Ridge Community College and four other outstanding community colleges to catalyze and supercharge their efforts to recruit and support adult students,” said MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “As the pandemic recedes, we know that many North Carolinians are looking for a fresh start, and we believe our community colleges are a great place for their journey to begin.

In a matter of months on a community college campus, adult learners can acquire skills and credentials that can change their families’ economic trajectory. Our goal is for all residents of our state to have access to an education that will lead to skills, credentials, and degrees, and ultimately the opportunities to achieve their dreams.”

“At myFutureNC, we are dedicated to ensuring that 2 million North Carolinians, between the ages of 25-44, have a high-quality credential or a postsecondary degree by the year 2030. The vast majority of higher-wage jobs today require more than a high school diploma, but that is something that less than half of North Carolinians in this age range currently have,” said Cecilia Holden, President and CEO of myFutureNC. “We know better skills lead to better jobs and to a stronger and more economically vibrant North Carolina. We are very pleased to be partnering on this important new initiative.”

The John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to transforming postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. Its mission is aligned with the vision of its founder, the late John M. Belk, who served four terms as mayor of Charlotte and was CEO of the department store company Belk, Inc. Now led by Mr. Belk’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the John M. Belk Endowment continues to partner with innovative, results-oriented programs in North Carolina to further Mr. Belk’s values, legacy, and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality. For more information, please visit

myFutureNC is a statewide nonprofit focused on educational attainment that includes some of North Carolina’s most influential education, business, and civic leaders. The organization was formed with the goal to create a stronger, more competitive North Carolina. myFutureNC is working across sectors and in communities throughout the state to close gaps in the education pathway, to promote alignment between educational programming and business/industry needs, and to ultimately improve educational opportunities for all North Carolinians. For more information, please visit

For more information about Blue Ridge Community College’s Better Skills. Better Jobs. initiative, please visit: