Central Carolina Community College has learned that it will be awarded a $452,335 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Distance Learning Grant. The funds will be used to install and upgrade classroom equipment across Lee, Harnett, and Chatham counties.
Equipment will include updated interactive smart room and video conferencing technology to allow instruction across multiple campuses or centers at one time, along with select high school sites. The new equipment will address specific areas that faculty shared were challenges in the existing rooms. Upgrades will include improved sound and larger displays of the remote sites. The project included a special focus to connect rural students to more synchronous STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses, as opposed to only having online options.
“The College is very excited about this opportunity to upgrade technology in all three counties, improving the quality of the interactive distance learning resources connecting our campuses and K-12 partners,” said CCCC President Dr. Lisa M. Chapman. “This will allow our faculty to more effectively engage with a larger number of students throughout the communities we serve.”
The USDA is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories, according to the announced made by USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy.
“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” LaVoy said in a USDA news release. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their quality of life, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
The grant to CCCC was one of 12 that USDA will award to various North Carolina recipients.
“We are grateful to USDA for this opportunity to upgrade CCCC’s videoconferencing equipment and smart technology,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, CCCC Vice President, Learning & Workforce Development/Chief Academic Officer. “In a rural service area, where we know remoteness presents barriers, these upgrades will provide faculty with tools needed to connect students to more educational opportunities, specifically with our high school partners and with STEM-based credentials.”
Central Carolina Community College offers a wide variety of programs at its three campus locations and multiple instructional locations throughout Chatham, Harnett, and Lee counties. Within these programs, students can earn associate degrees or college transfer credits, diplomas, or certificates. Some programs are offered entirely, or in part, via online distance education. In addition, CCCC offers courses in such areas as short-term job training, college and career readiness, personal interests, business and industry, and emergency services training. CCCC was recently ranked first in Niche’s 2020 best community colleges in North Carolina rankings.