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Fall 2015 Masthead

Golden LEAF Scholarship Two Year Program helps students attend college,
gain employment
Scholarships available at participating NC community colleges during fall, spring, summer semesters

In April 2015, the Golden LEAF Foundation awarded the North Carolina Community College System $750,000 to provide scholarships for the fall 2015, spring 2016 and summer 2016 terms. To date, Golden LEAF has funded 9,600 scholarships to help students attend our states' community colleges.

"Golden LEAF scholarship funds are awarded annually to hundreds of community college students across our state, allowing recipients the opportunity to attend college, prepare for a career or enhance their employability skills," said Dr. Lisa Chapman, Senior Vice President of Programs and Chief Academic Officer at the NC Community College System. "The success fostered by these scholarships helps students gain hope and confidence as they work to prepare for their future and improve their economic circumstances. We are grateful for Golden LEAF's investment in our students and our community colleges as we partner to increase career and education opportunities for students and enhance the workforce for North Carolina businesses."

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors created the Golden LEAF Scholarship program to help build our state's rural economy by investing in its workforce. Golden LEAF Scholarships are helping students across the state gain skilled employment.

Brittany Wideman
Brittany Wideman, 2015 Stanly Community College graduate

For Brittany Wideman of Stanly County, her scholarship helped her follow her dream.

"I was attending Livingstone College until my aunt became sick," said Wideman. "I came home to help take care of her. I've always wanted to help people, but she really inspired my dreams to become a social worker."

Wideman decided to enroll in Stanly Community College (SCC) while caring for her aunt. In May 2015, Wideman earned her associate degree in Human Services from SCC. Currently she is working at GHA Autism Supports, directly caring for the needs of adults with autism, while also continuing to take college-transfer courses at SCC. She plans to transfer to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to complete a bachelor's degree in social work.

Kimberly Elliot
Kimberly Elliot, 2014 Vance-Granville Community College graduate

Another scholarship recipient, Kimberly Elliott of Granville County, was able to use the financial support to finish her degree at Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC) on time.

"The Golden LEAF Scholarship helped out tremendously, as I was able to graduate on time because of the scholarship," said Elliott. "I started working at VGCC as a work study student, and after graduation I was hired part-time as a front office assistant with the college. I have recently been promoted to full-time at VGCC as an administrative assistant. I thank the Foundation for giving me the Golden LEAF Scholarship, so I could finish up my college and have a successful career."

Elliot is a spring 2014 graduate of VGCC with an associate degree in Human Service Technology.

Hunter Edwards
Hunter Edwards, 2015 Surry Community College graduate

For scholar Hunter Edwards, college was a means to finding a career that would offer a livable wage in Surry County.

"In today's time, it is almost impossible to find a good paying job without an education," said Edwards. "That was my motivation and to know that I would not have to worry about being able to provide for myself and my future family."

Edwards is a May 2015 graduate of Surry Community College with an associate degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. As a result of his degree, he now works at Advanced Electronic Services, Inc. as an electronic mechanical engineer.

"The Golden LEAF Foundation is proud to be a part of these and countless other success stories," said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President. "Our hope is that these scholarships will continue to help build our current and future workforce's talent, knowledge and skills that are in demand by industry especially in the rural areas of our state."

Curriculum students may apply for up to $750 per semester and occupational education students are eligible for up to $250 per term. To find a list of participating community colleges and eligible counties, visit the Golden LEAF website. Students interested in applying for a Golden LEAF Scholarship need to contact a participating college's Financial Aid Office.


Golden LEAF grants help save
300 jobs, create 90 more at advanced manufacturer
$1.3 million in grants spur advanced manufacturing network, training center, partnership

According to recent reports from the Manufacturing Institute, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled nationally over the next decade. Due to the skills gap, two million of those jobs are expected to go unfilled. To combat those trends, both Southwestern and Tri-County community colleges are training hundreds of new and incumbent workers to acquire new skills resulting in job placement and retention, industry credentials, and promotions. These two community colleges are working together to solve skills gaps identified by regional advanced manufacturers through projects funded in part by the Golden LEAF Foundation.

Southwestern Community College - Baxter the Robot

Training on Baxter, one of SCC's state-of-the-art robot training systems, helps students learn about new automation systems, testing and manufacturing maintenance procedures.

Southwestern Community College's manufacturing training programs and new industry network helped save 300 jobs and create 90 more at Swain County's largest employer Consolidated Metco (ConMet). ConMet creates engineered components for the commercial vehicle industry. The company was considering closing its Swain County plant because of workforce challenges encountered when it installed automated production equipment.

"Due to Golden LEAF support, ConMet has a resource center now for current employees and a developmental center for people at our plant and in the community who want to learn about robotics and advance their careers," said Lina Krisciokaityte, human resources manager at ConMet. "This means a lot to our business."

Southwestern Community College Ribbon Cutting

Baxter the robot cuts the ribbon at the November 2014 ribbon cutting ceremony for officials from Golden LEAF and Southwestern Community College.

Two Golden LEAF grants totaling $1,329,780 helped Southwestern Community College (SCC) equip the newly constructed Swain County center with automated training equipment, form the Balsam Advanced Manufacturing Network, and forge partnerships with Tri-County Community College (TCCC) and Western Carolina University to help provide the right skills for the manufacturing needs of the region.

"Golden LEAF is the partner out there connecting people together," said Janet Weigel, director of Industry Training at SCC. "The Foundation helps facilitate the change."

SCC is offering mechatronics, a course of study that prepares students to use mechanical and electrical skills to develop, test and maintain robotic equipment and other automated systems. Graduates are qualified for employment as industrial maintenance and production technicians in the areas of assembly, testing, startup, troubleshooting, repair, process improvement, and control systems. Graduates qualify to sit for credentials offered through the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) or similar industry certifications.

Southwestern Community College robotics

SCC students use different types of automated equipment like the machine pictured to learn advanced manufacturing processes.

TCCC is currently working on an articulation agreement with the North Carolina Community College System on creating a new Associate in Engineering program. Students graduating from the program can enter WCU with credits earned toward a four-year engineering degree.


Hoke County celebrates advanced manufacturing skills graduates
Golden LEAF provides $442,242 in equipment, lease for program

Today's manufacturing company uses high-tech, automated equipment to improve product quality and production efficiency. Sandhills Community College, with support from the Golden LEAF Foundation, is helping its students gain the skills they need to meet industry demands.

On July 14, 2015, SCC held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hoke Initiative for Advanced Manufacturing Skills (HIAMS) program, which is located on its Raeford campus in Hoke County. The HIAMS development program trains students for manufacturing production systems and minor manufacturing equipment maintenance and repair. The HIAMS program provides the capacity to deliver targeted and customized skills required for local industry to train both new and incumbent workers. The college is also working with the local high school on an advanced manufacturing training partnership

Sandhills Community College Ribbon Cutting

Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach (second from left) presents a ceremonial check to Sandhills Community College representatives for the Hoke Initiative for Advanced Manufacturing Skills program on July 14, 2015.

"Hoke County has never had a training program like this before," said Ronnie Patton, manager at Unilever. "The program provides a workforce ready environment and helps provide students with a solid skill set for a production environment. Graduates have a step-up when applying for employment because SCC is working directly with our needed skill sets. I have heard nothing but positive things about our new employees coming from this program."

Sandhills CC Hoke Initiative

Four of the HIAMS program graduates are pictured with SCC Industrial Trades Coordinator Belinda McFerrin (center) and Golden LEAF Senior Vice President Mark Sorrells (right) at the program's ribbon cutting event.

"The Golden LEAF Foundation provided the bulk of the funding for the facility, with support of the Hoke County school system," said Allen Duncan, dean of business and industry services at SCC. "The school system donated one modular unit, and Golden LEAF provided funding for leasing the other."

The $442,242 Golden LEAF grant funded the program's state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and provided funding for leasing one of its buildings.


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Call Golden LEAF to discuss project ideas at 888.684.8404 (ask for a program officer) or e-mail


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Golden LEAF News - September 2015

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Golden LEAF News - July 2015

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Golden LEAF News - May 2015

Golden LEAF News - April 2015

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© 2015 Golden LEAF Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

Message from the
Dan Gerlach

Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President

As fall has begun, the General Assembly is set to finish its work on Raleigh for the year. Legislators tackled many complicated and large issues this year, including the state budget.

The fiscal picture this year was improved from the last several ones. Legislators were able to make additional investments and reduce taxes. One additional investment was the restoration of $10 million every year to the Golden LEAF Foundation from the settlement agreement payments between the state and cigarette manufacturers.

We are deeply grateful to the General Assembly for having the confidence and the trust in the Foundation to be good stewards of those resources. That $10 million will be added to our current level of grantsmaking to support both immediate job-creation projects and longer-term investments in education, infrastructure, workforce training, economic development, agriculture and health care. It will move the needle in communities that need the help the most.

Golden LEAF had some funds restored due to a focused, purposeful Board of Directors. The Board consists of leaders across the state from a wide variety of disciplines, but singularly interested in outcomes.

Golden LEAF measures not only how many students receive financial assistance to attend community or four year colleges from our resources, but the outcomes of graduation rates and, most importantly, ability to obtain meaningful work to benefit others and support their families. This issue of LEAF Lines has a few stories from our scholars to this end.

Golden LEAF measures not only how many students are trained on equipment purchased with grant money at community colleges, but how many of those students obtain credentials or degrees, and become employed or move up the career ladder. The close collaboration that Southwestern and Sandhills Community Colleges - located on opposite ends of the state - have with employers in their area gave us the confidence that the private sector was a partner in these efforts.

Golden LEAF not only makes sure that renovations to buildings are performed as promised, but that the uses of the buildings are productive. The renovations at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton are well-done, but it is the 65 medical students and residents practicing in one of our most rural counties that we measure.

Golden LEAF measures not only the number of middle and high school students who benefit from technology and STEM education opportunities that we provide, but the increases in test scores, graduation rates, and post-high school employment or education persistence.

Simply put, we will be excellent stewards of these funds if we keep our eye on the long-term reasons why we make grants. We will be relentless and opportunistic in this pursuit.

While this news is all good, I wanted to let you know that one of our long-serving colleagues, Patricia Cabe, Vice-President of Programs/ Community Assistance and Outreach, will be leaving the Foundation in mid-November to return to western North Carolina. Many of you know how crucial Pat has been to our success, and we wish her Godspeed with gratitude and affection.

Thanks for all that you do, and thank your legislators for this action. They had many tough choices to make.


Dan Gerlach can be contacted by
e-mail at


$4.8 million in Golden LEAF
grants support increase in healthcare access, jobs in Sandhills
Region to gain over 400 full-time healthcare jobs, 110 doctors
in residency

Over the past decade, Golden LEAF has provided more than $4.8 million to support projects affecting nine healthcare facilities in the Sandhills Region of North Carolina. These projects will create a combined 446 full-time healthcare jobs and boost healthcare access by adding 110 doctors in residency and 125 nursing, allied health and mid-level practitioner students.

Southeastern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Robeson County is one of the region's beneficiaries of Golden LEAF support. It has received $1.35 million through three grants to help establish a residency program at the hospital, to renovate and upfit a permanent health clinic in Clarkton in Bladen County, and to fully equip a mobile clinic to provide primary care services in medically underserved communities in Robeson County.

Southeastern Regional Medical Center

Doctors, residents, and medical students gather during rounds at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. Residents will enter one of three residency programs: family medicine, internal medicine or emergency medicine.

SRMC held an open house for its new residency program on July 28, 2015 to showcase the medical education center. Now a teaching hospital, SRMC will be able to host up to 92 residency positions and provide rotations and educational opportunities for nursing, allied health and mid-level practitioner students, resulting in more caregivers for patients.

"Overall, the new residency program is going to make a huge impact," said Dr. Robert Hasty, vice president of medical education and the regional associate dean of the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. "It is great for future physicians and the future healthcare quality and access to physicians in an area that is not only rural but also affected by the collapse of the tobacco industry and negative health issues. Generations will be affected by this money."

SRMC renovated a 10,000-square-foot space at its existing hospital in Lumberton to house its educational programming, funded in part by a Golden LEAF grant. Currently there are 40 third-year medical students and 25 doctors in residency at the hospital.

Southeastern Regional Medical Center - conference center

Pictured is the conference room in the newly renovated SRMC teaching floor. Other additions on the floor include classrooms, study areas and staff offices.

"The program has had a very good launch," said Hasty. "Our residents started in July. We have received several formal compliments. After one patient left the hospital, he took the time to write out his comments to let the resident know how much he appreciated his care."

Other healthcare facilities in the region which have benefited from Golden LEAF grants and will help support the creation of 446 jobs and 18 residencies include:

  • A $160,000 grant to support Bladen Healthcare which expanded its primary care center in Bladenboro and added specialty care and imaging services;
  • Two grants totaling $1,379,500 to support both First Health of the Carolinas which built a new 8-bed hospital and Hoke Health Services which constructed a new 41 bed acute care hospital;
  • A $200,000 grant to support Sampson Regional Medical Center, Columbus Regional healthcare System, and several other healthcare facilities outside of the Sandhills Region which received lean management principles training and support;
  • A $352,300 grant to support hosting 18 doctors in residency at Sampson Regional Medical Center which is starting a family medicine residency program;
  • Two grants totaling $1,341,800 through the Scotland Health Care System which built a fixed cardiovascular center, renovated its Emergency Center, provided additional staff and providers at Harris Family Practice to increase hours of service, and expanded Scotland Surgical's existing building;
  • Two grants totaling $850,000 to support Southeastern Regional Medical Center which renovated a building for a permanent health clinic in Clarkton in Bladen County; and
  • A $34,900 grant to support the renovation and upfit of a town-owned building which was then leased to White Lake Family Medicine, LLC.


Golden LEAF grants help equip
students with 21st century skills
Nash-Rocky Mount
Public School System gains STEM labs

The Golden LEAF Foundation is helping Nash-Rocky Mount Schools in its efforts to build a 21st century workforce through two grants that support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and computer literacy skills. While STEM provides students with a hands-on approach to learning the skills needed to succeed in today's workforce, the digital learning instruction is helping teachers connect students to all the resources the world has to offer.

"This is the future," said Dr. Travis Twiford, the school system's interim superintendent. "The skills our students will learn in these labs can be used in any job. This is an exciting opportunity."

Nash-Rocky Mount Schools STEM Ribbon Cutting

Golden LEAF Program Compliance Officer Marilyn Chism (second from left) helped local and school officials cut the ribbon on the new STEM center at Southern Nash Middle School.

On August 18, 2015, open houses were held at two schools to celebrate Golden LEAF-funded STEM labs at Nash-Rocky Mount Public middle schools. The labs include computers and supplies for students to participate in innovative, interactive workstations. Local businesses provided the school system with insight into the STEM-related skills they need to fill their jobs. The skill requirements of employees were used to narrow down the focus of the 18 workstations to areas such as applied physics, sustainable agriculture, engines, robots, CNC manufacturing, electricity, electronics, plastics and polymers.

Rocky Mount Middle - STEM

Rocky Mount Middle School students are beginning their STEM classes with orientation for the workstations.

The Nash-Rocky Mount Public School system is no stranger to 21st century learning. The school system started a program providing one digital computing device for each student and teacher called iConnect in 2012. With the iConnect Initiative in full swing, the Golden LEAF Foundation provided a complementary grant in April 2013 to support a comprehensive professional development program for the system's teachers and administrators. North Carolina State University's Friday Institute for Educational Innovation is providing professional development to teachers and administrators.

"Professional development is building capacity in our schools," said Cathy Wittman, the school system's director of professional development. "The relationship we have built with the Friday Institute has been invaluable."

The professional development plan incorporates best practices for technology programs and is helping equip teachers to personalize learning and prepare students for a global economy. Golden LEAF funding provided multiple face-to-face training sessions for teachers, IT coaches, and administrators, as well as several online training sessions. Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools is learning to model the Friday Institute's professional development program and thereby create its own customized training delivery system to continue adding capacity beyond the grant period.

Wittman is already seeing changes in the way teachers are teaching and students are learning.

"Technology integration facilitates teaching and learning with the future in mind, freeing students to explore infinite possibilities for personalized learning experiences," said Wittman. "These experiences empower students with the 21st century skills they need for life-long academic and personal success."


The Golden LEAF Foundation   301 N. Winstead Avenue   Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone 252-442-7474   Toll-free 888-684-8404   Fax 252-442-7404   Email

© 2015 Golden LEAF Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved