Ivana Stevens


Nash Community College is among 95 finalists announced by the U.S. Department of Education for the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, a $750,000 competition to advance pre-apprenticeships.

The finalists represent 32 states and two territories and include higher education institutions, local educational agencies, community and faith-based organizations, and correctional facilities.

“If awarded, Nash Community College’s plan to rethink adult education will expand career opportunities through an information technology pre-apprenticeship program within college and career readiness,” NCC Director of College and Career Readiness Ivana Stevens said.

Although apprenticeships serve as a pathway into careers across industries, many adult learners face barriers to accessing them. Pre-apprenticeships help break down these barriers by equipping adult learners with the knowledge and skills they need to enter and succeed in apprenticeships.

“North Carolina, a top contender within the tech industry, has the second-highest rural population in the U.S. If selected, NCC’s program will diversify and modernize pre-apprenticeship offerings in northeastern rural North Carolina creating a pathway with wraparound services for unemployed and underemployed adult learners to transition into a statewide registered apprenticeship program,” Stevens said.

From September to November, the Department of Education invited providers funded by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act to submit preliminary designs for pre-apprenticeship programs.

The competition’s Stage 2 virtual accelerator will run from February to June 2021. Finalists will have access to a range of digital resources — such as case studies, activities, and webinars with subject matter experts — to help them develop detailed program proposals. A judging panel will review the proposals and select one grand-prize winner and up to five runners-up.

The challenge will award $250,000 to the grand-prize winner, and up to five runners-up will each receive at least $100,000.

“COVID-19 highlighted the digital divide in rural low wealth communities and called attention to the reality that most individuals earning low wages are unable to telework,” Stevens said. “Many persons classified as essential workers are low wage earners forced to make tough decisions regarding safety, employment and childcare during the pandemic. Further, studies report two-thirds of workers earning the minimum wage in the U.S. are women. With the proposed program, we aim to take steps in creating opportunities leading to economic empowerment through occupational skills development and project based learning with local businesses.”

For more information about adult education, call 252-451-8215.