Female Veterans Connect to VA Healthcare Benefits
On May 11, Central Piedmont hosted a “VA Women’s Health Reengagement Training” event on its Cato Campus to give women veterans in the Charlotte region an opportunity to mingle with their peers and to learn more about the Veteran Administration’s (VA) veteran- and women-centered healthcare services.
The event was part of Women Veterans Health Reengagement Training’s (heaRT) initiative to raise awareness of the VA’s healthcare policy changes so more female veterans will enroll and take advantage of the healthcare benefits that are available to them.
“Women veterans are one of the largest demographics to not utilize VA healthcare benefits,” said Richard Bartell, director of Central Piedmont’s Military Families and Veterans Services. “Many of them don’t know that even if they have TRICARE or private insurance, they’re still eligible. That’s why this event is so important, it’s connecting our veterans to the benefits they need and deserve.”
During the four-hour event, participants networked with one another and learned more about:
- women’s health services
- whole health and mental health services
- how to determine their VA care eligibility
- how to enroll in VA
Central Piedmont was one of two sites in North Carolina to host a Women Veterans heaRT event this month. A total of 13 Women Veterans heaRT events are scheduled to be held throughout the Southeast and the Midwest during May and June.
Central Piedmont holds 2022 commencement ceremony
Central Piedmont Community College today hosted its 2021-2022 commencement ceremony at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte. Almost 900 students “marched” and received their college degrees. More than 2,300 students were eligible to graduate this year.
During the morning festivities, Mr. Kevin Tobin, a 2022 graduate, addressed his peers by delivering this year’s commencement address. Ms. Evelyn Hill, also a 2022 graduate, was the commencement speaker at the 2 p.m., ceremony. This is the fifth time Central Piedmont has had student keynote speakers at graduation. Evelyn and Kevin both graduated from Central Piedmont with an Associate in Applied Science degree in human services technology – substance abuse.
Students matriculating from Central Piedmont with a curriculum degree, diploma, or certificate had the option of participating in either the morning or afternoon ceremony. This is the first year Central Piedmont combined its for-credit and non-credit programs into a single ceremony, giving graduates the choice to “walk” in the graduation ceremony that better fit their families’ schedule.
In addition to hearing Evelyn’s powerful message during the 2 p.m., ceremony, attendees also saw Dr. Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont, confer an Honorary Associate Degree in Arts to Mr. Wilton L. Parr, a long-time Central Piedmont student, volunteer, and donor.
Central Piedmont will offer two commencement ceremonies this year to honor its graduates. 2022 summer and fall semester graduates will participate in a special commencement service on December 13, 2022, at 10 a.m., at Bojangles Coliseum. The addition of a fall ceremony will allow the college’s summer and fall graduates to be honored in the same timely way as its spring graduates.
Second Cohort of STRIVE Scholars Graduates
Central Piedmont is excited to announce that its second cohort of STRIVE Scholars graduated yesterday during a special commencement ceremony on the college’s Harris Campus.
The STRIVE (Strengthening Teachers. Reaching Individuals. Valuing Everyone.) Scholars program is a joint early childhood education initiative between the college, Mecklenburg County, The Foundation for the Carolinas, and the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council that seeks to address a local shortage in the public Pre-K teacher workforce. The program accomplishes this goal by removing the many financial and personal barriers students who are pursuing an associate degree in early childhood education may face by providing them with better access and the support services they need to succeed.
Founded in January 2020, the STRIVE Scholars Program has graduated 38 students to date. Twenty-five scholars graduated from the program during the May 10 ceremony, and more STRIVE scholarships are set to be awarded to eligible students in summer and fall 2022.
The program provides full tuition, fees, books, and materials funding to academically-qualified applicants preparing to become educators of young children in Mecklenburg County. In addition to receiving financial assistance, scholars also receive access to mental health supports, professional and personal development opportunities, and can apply for need-based support, including assistance with transportation and child care.
“The STRIVE Scholars program supports higher education access by removing barriers that may cause a student to lose focus and not be able to give 100 percent to their studies,” said Toria Grant, STRIVE recruitment project manager and an early childhood education instructor at Central Piedmont. “This program helps us produce graduates who are prepared to serve the county’s ever-growing pre-k population by providing Mecklenburg’s youngsters with a high quality pre-K education that will better prepare them for their primary education and achieving academic success in the future.”
Dr. Deitemeyer named to most influential leader list
Congratulations to Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont, on being named to Business North Carolina’s “Power List 2022,” a comprehensive list of North Carolina’s most influential leaders.
Dr. Deitemeyer is one of 25 leaders named in the list’s education category which features some of the education industry’s most notable leaders whose success is considered essential for the state to make economic and social progress. View the complete list of this year’s honorees.
Business North Carolina has shared the stories of North Carolina’s business community for more than 40 years. Each spring and fall, the publication publishes a special annual publication – the Spring North Carolina Power List and the Fall North Carolina Economic Development Guide.
The special spring issue always includes a list of the state’s most powerful leaders, compiled with insight from the publication’s editorial team and keen observers of state industry. The purpose of the Spring North Carolina Power List is to shed light on the folks who are driving much of the change in the state and who are making a significant impact in their enterprises, industries, and communities.
Kudos to Dr. Deitemeyer on this accomplishment and to her fellow honorees.
Head of U.S. Small Business Administration visits Central Piedmont
In celebration of Small Business Week (May 2 – 5, 2022), Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, visited Central Piedmont on May 5 as part of the Biden Administration’s “Building a Better America through Entrepreneurship” national bus tour.
The national tour is taking place this week, providing Administrator Guzman with an opportunity to collaborate with SBA offices located across the country and celebrate America’s small businesses that have played a critical role in contributing to the country’s economic health.
Central Piedmont was one of nine stops on Administrator Guzman’s agenda; she previously visited San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Augusta (GA), Columbia and Richburg (SC), and Norfolk (VA).
During her stop in Charlotte, she:
- visited a local small business – Manolo’s Bakery on Central Ave.
- participated in a roundtable discussion with local community leaders in the Zeiss Building on Central Campus
- attended a Cinco de Mayo celebration at Camp North End
- visited the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte & Prospera USA
Administrator Guzman will conclude her tour in Raleigh on May 6, at which time she will tour the capital’s N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and recognize the N.C. Small Business Person of the Year.
For more information about the bus tour and National Small Business Week, visit www.sba.gov/NSBW.
College partners on the 3rd-Annual ‘53 Ideas Pitch Competition’ with Fifth Third Bank
Central Piedmont Community College is partnering on the third-annual “53 Ideas Pitch Competition,” an initiative that began in 2020, with support from Fifth Third Bank to provide anyone with ideas access to the capital, training and social connections needed to take an idea and turn it into a viable business.
Contestants will compete for cash awards and have access to training resources and expanded networks to build social connections. Training and coaching on pitching, financing, forecasting, and general business will be available to every participant, even if they do not make the top 53. These free resources will be offered by Small Business Centers located at community colleges throughout the region, including Central Piedmont, Cleveland, Gaston, Mitchell, Rowan-Cabarrus, South Piedmont and Stanly.
“If you look around, everything you see with the exception of people and nature was brought to life through the idea of an entrepreneur,” said Larry Swayne, director of Central Piedmont’s Small Business Center. “Ideas truly impact the world, and we’re excited to support the brightest and best new ideas with this pitch competition.”
To enter, individuals have 53 seconds to share their idea in the form of a video submitted at 53ideas.com. Round one is based on the idea. Contestants do not have to excel at pitching, they just need to share who they are, their idea, the problem it solves, how it is new or superior to an existing product or service, and how they can make it happen. Judges will select the top-53 ideas and those contestants will move on in the competition to receive training to help them prepare a three-minute pitch for the second round of the competition. Judges will then narrow the field to the top 10 and those selected will receive $250 before moving forward to compete in the Pitch Day finale. The top spot will receive $10,000, second place $5,000 and third place $2,500 to help turn their idea into a viable business.
“We are committed to supporting entrepreneurship across Charlotte and throughout North Carolina,” said Joel Dancy, vice president, Community & Economic Development, Mid-Atlantic Region, Fifth Third Bank. “We are very excited to again be supporting the ‘53 Ideas Pitch Competition’ because it not only helps in the short term with access to capital for the winners, but also in the long term through financial education for all participants.”
Last year’s competition received more than 130 entries. Nicole Hawthorne was announced the winner for Jayla’s Heirlooms, a business providing handcrafted diverse dolls. Nicole went on to partner with Amazon, where her culturally diverse dolls are available for children and families worldwide. The competition is led by the Small Business Center located at South Piedmont Community College.
To learn more and enter this year’s pitch competition by the May 31 deadline, visit 53ideas.com.
Central Piedmont Partnership with BCBS of North Carolina Aims to Build Diversity in Insurance Industry
Through a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Central Piedmont Community College has received $211,485 to provide scholarships to develop a more diverse and inclusive talent pool of trained and licensed individuals for the insurance production and sales industry. The goal of the partnership is to increase access to underserved populations and communities by diversifying the pool of licensed insurance agents.
Central Piedmont will use the funds to offer scholarships to 26 students per year for five years to cover the cost of insurance pre-licensing courses provided by the college plus licensing exam fees and NC Department of Insurance fees. As scholarship recipients, students also will receive instruction through the “Working Smart: Essential Skills for Workplace Success and Career Development” program and wrap-around services, including interview preparation, additional academic and career counseling, and small business counseling.
Scholarship eligibility is open to persons who meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Bilingual – English-Spanish
- Age 18-49
- Workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Persons in transition – leaving high school or college, or looking to make a career change.
Interested individuals can apply to the program starting in May. Successful applicants will be notified in July, with classes beginning in late-August.
“Central Piedmont is so appreciative of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for making such an investment to advance diversity in the field of insurance agents,” said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. “We know this program will generate much interest and provide another pathway at the college that will lead to rewarding and family-sustaining careers with great opportunities for advancement, perhaps even business ownership.”
U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal visits Central Piedmont
On April 12, U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal visited Central Piedmont Community College on our Central Campus to learn about Central Piedmont’s apprenticeship and other workplace learning programs. He also took a tour of the state-of-the-art Ruth G. Shaw Advanced Technology Center (ATC).
Central Piedmont was honored to host Under Secretary Kvaal and discuss how apprenticeships and other workplace learning programs prepare students for well-paying, high-demand careers in some of the Charlotte region’s fastest-growing industries.
Under Secretary Kvaal began his visit with a roundtable discussion about how apprenticeship programs benefit employers by providing a pipeline of well-trained talent. Several college and Workplace Learning Department leaders took part in the discussion, including:
- Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, president
- Dr. Heather Hill, vice president - academic affairs
- Mr. Jeff Lowrance, vice president – communications, marketing & public relations
- Mr. Ed Injaychock, director – workplace learning
After the discussion, the group moved to the Ruth G. Shaw Advanced Technology Center where Mr. Rinav
Mehta, dean of business, technology and engineering, and members of his team led the tour of the ATC. It is a 79,194 square-foot, cutting-edge, state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing, engineering, logistics and energy-related careers training facility that opened in 2018. Its prominent location on Central Piedmont’s Central Campus points to its importance in developing a highly skilled workforce in Mecklenburg County and the college’s ongoing efforts to provide opportunities for increased economic mobility.
The Shaw Advanced Technology Center includes:
- Mechatronics and Automation Labs
- Virtual Reality (VR) Labs
- Engineering FabLab (fabrication lab)
- CNC Machining Lab
- Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Labs
- 13 Computer Labs
- 11 Specialized Equipment Labs
Levine III Recognized for Sustainable Design
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has recognized Moseley Architects, the architecture firm that designed Levine III, located on the Central Piedmont’s Levine Campus, with its “2021 USGBC Carolinas Leadership Award for Green Schools – Higher Education” award.
The award promotes and recognizes excellence in sustainable design, environmental stewardship, and community impact, and highlights the green building initiatives and achievements of local projects, businesses, and individual leaders. Given in several categories, the award honors innovative, high-performance projects that are leading the way to a greener tomorrow for all in North and South Carolina.
Central Piedmont’s Levine III building was recognized as an educational project that demonstrates sustainable leadership in facility design, construction, operations, and student/community engagement. The 88,000 square-foot Levine III opened in 2019 and houses the Georgia Tucker Fine Arts Hall, health careers and science labs, and classrooms.
To learn more about the USGBC Awards, or to view a complete list of 2021 finalists, visit https://www.carolinasgreengala.com.
Smart Start awards PBS Charlotte grant to fund coding workshops for Pre-K students
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has awarded WTVI PBS Charlotte a $28,720 Innovation Initiative grant to address the needs of children 0 – 5 years old and their families in Mecklenburg County. Through the end of March, PBS Charlotte is using the money to provide free, weekly computer coding workshops to 65 children enrolled at Hidden Valley Elementary School or who reside in the Hidden Valley corridor, as well as their teachers and parents.
During the 12-week program, Toye Watson, education and outreach coordinator for PBS Charlotte, is “pushing in” to Hidden Valley Elementary School’s Pre-K classes to teach the students foundational coding concepts using the “PBS KIDS ScratchJr” app. ScratchJr utilizes introductory programming language to enable young children (up to 7 years of age) to create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite PBS KIDS character.
During each workshop, students further develop their STEM and critical thinking skills, building their characters within the app. To do this, they use basic math concepts to make their characters move, apply simple storytelling concepts to share how their character is interacting with its environment and more. The ScratchJr interface and programming language are developmentally appropriate for younger children and match their cognitive, persona, social and emotional development.
“The future is STEM and technology,” explains Watson. “In fact, one of the fastest moving industries is coding. Studies show that the earlier a child can code, the more likely they are to possess strong mathematical, critical thinking and foundational learning skills – all characteristics that will help them earn a sustainable career in the future.”
In addition to working with the students at the school, Watson is using outside resources, such as the Sugar Creek Library and Sugar Creek Recreation Center, to not only work with Pre-K students in the community, but also to train teachers and parents on how they can best use ScratchJr with the children. These education/training sessions serve many purposes, giving both the teachers and the parents an opportunity to share stories with one another, exchange resources and ask Watson further questions about using ScratchJr in the classroom and at home.
“This initiative convening and mobilizing the community around improving the education outcomes for children 4 to 5 years old in one of the most racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty in Charlotte – the Hidden Valley corridor,” explains Watson. “In 2018-2019, Hidden Valley Elementary School placed in the bottom 50 percent of all schools in North Carolina for overall test scores. My hope is that if we can start educating the children as early as possible, we can provide them with a quality education that puts them in a position of no longer starting their primary education in a deficit, but rather with an advantage.”
The grant’s monies will help Watson accomplish this goal. Funds will be used to:
- purchase Amazon Fire Tablets and WiFi hotspots, to coordinate project work and presentations on the ScratchJr coding program;
- support marketing efforts, to raise awareness of the program within the local community; and
- coordinate a ScratchJr Family Day, to give students and all of their extended family members an opportunity to work together and create a project in ScratchJr.
Throughout the 12-week program, Watson is assessing and tracking data on the effectiveness of the program and its impact on early STEM concepts and skills in the Pre-K children. Students and teachers are taking assessments, and teachers’ journals and childrens’ work samples are being collected to evaluate progress, as well as the program’s impact.
“The promise of an education is that it levels the playing field,” explains Watson. “This grant is helping education live up to its promises.”