The Golden LEAF Foundation supports workforce projects that help close the skills gap and increase the pool of highly qualified individuals with skills aligned to North Carolina businesses’ current and future needs. The Golden LEAF Board of Directors fund projects that demonstrate a market demand for skilled workers and aim at developing skill sets required by businesses looking to locate or expand in rural communities.
In June 2017, the Golden LEAF Foundation Board awarded $199,977.54 to Davie County Schools to improve high school students’ employability in agriculture, health sciences, and culinary careers at the new Davie County High School. The program launched in the 2017-2018 school year with 82 students participating in the three career programs.
Out of the 374 Davie County High School students completing these programs in the 2020-2021 school year, 48 students were employed in their field of study immediately after high school. The program also resulted in 46 of these students continuing their education in their fields at a post-secondary school. In total, more than one fourth of the students either were employed after high school in their field of study or continued in their field of study at a college or university.
“When Davie County High School was built in 2016-2017, there were some important components missing in creating a seamless pipeline from the high school to becoming industry-ready,” said Anthony Davis, Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Federal Programs at Davie County Schools. “Agriculture, Food Services, and Healthcare make up a significant portion of the labor market and revenue in Davie County, and the new high school needed some integral items to make these programs successful.”
Golden LEAF funding provided Davie County High School with a science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) Innovation Lab and state-of-the-art career and CTE labs to support students’ technical skills in these three career areas. These programs also focus on students’ ability to engage in critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and other soft skills required for success in the workplace.
“Building an aquaponics greenhouse and a shade house, providing healthcare training tools, purchasing a laser cutter, and completing the commercial culinary lab gave Davie County High School the tools needed to make Davie County Schools’ students industry-ready,” said Davis.
The project also supported the purchase of industrial kitchen equipment and appliances that enhanced the culinary program’s operations. In the health sciences program, patient simulators and other medical devices were purchased.
In the 2020-2021 school year, Davie County High School’s CTE students completed concentrations in the areas of agriculture, health sciences, and culinary. Davie County Schools reported that 279 of the 374 students participated in work-based learning opportunities that increased the exposure of 183 students to agriculture careers, 47 students to health sciences careers, and 49 students to culinary careers.
“We offer twenty-three career pathways, eleven of which are directly impacted by this Golden LEAF grant, and several more are indirectly affected,” said Davis. “We have seen an increase in enrollment in all areas targeted by the Golden LEAF funding and are excited to see continued student growth.”
Golden LEAF supports educational opportunities that support area industry needs. Davie County Schools CTE programs offer a clear path to in-demand jobs in the community. To learn more about Golden LEAF’s workforce preparedness priority, click here.