HUB Program Reconnects Alumna to Central Piedmont

Central Piedmont recently hosted its first "Chat, Sip, and Chew" event to bring Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) to campus that specialize in culinary and food services to meet with faculty and staff. 

Twenty-four vendors shared their backgrounds and showcased how Central Piedmont could partner with their businesses. 

One of those vendors, Jorieka Downey, graduated from the college in 2014 and overcame many hurdles to grow her business, G.R.I.T.S. CLT, into one of the top food trucks and caterers in Charlotte. 

Growing up in a family full of chefs, the culinary program at Central Piedmont drew Downey in, and the single mom of three embraced the challenge.  

"I was working two jobs and going to school full-time," she said. "I would go to work third shift at a group home, staying up most of the night, and trying to do homework when the residents were asleep. I would then catch a little nap, drive to Central Piedmont, and go to classes for eight hours. Then I'd go home to try to spend some time with my kids before starting it all over again. It was a battle during those couple of years to be a mom." 

After she graduated, Downey set out on a five-year plan to own and operate her own food truck. She started her career working for Compass Group in a variety of roles, including lead entrée chef, and during her time there became connected with a woman who would eventually become a business partner. 

That partnership helped pave the way for Downey to start her own business, which began as a caterer. She built her popularity at events such as the 2019 NBA All Star Game in Charlotte and the CIAA Basketball Tournament. 

"Word just traveled," Downey said. "Our social media presence started to grow. We went viral with a stuffed turkey leg, and I know for certain I was the first to bring that to Charlotte. We had over 30,000 views. We'd put mac and cheese, collard greens, or yams in it. We would deep fry it southern style. That really made us grow." 

Soon, Downey was even catering for concerts with acts such as Busta Rhymes, 112, Marsha Ambrosius, and more as her popularity spread. 

However, like many others in the food industry, COVID played an impact on the growth of her business. But Downey used the rest of her savings, along with loans and grants during that period, to achieve her dream of purchasing her own food truck, and success soon followed. 

In 2022, Downey won the "Charlotte's Best Black-owned Food Truck" competition, sponsored by Duke's Mayo and judged by the likes of Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Congresswoman Alma Adams, and others. 

Though the food truck was recently damaged in a fire, Downey has continued to persevere, and encourages Central Piedmont's students to maintain that same attitude. 

"Stay in it," she said. "If it's your goal or passion, you have to give it your all. Put your best foot in and never give up." 

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Posted in Foundation News.

One trustee reappointed, two newly appointed to Central Piedmont board

Central Piedmont Community College's Board of Trustees recently had one member reappointed and two members appointed for the first time. Each will serve a four-year term through June 2028.

Jim Dunn, a seasoned executive and human resources professional, was reappointed to the Central Piedmont board by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. Dunn is the President and CEO of LD Human Capital Consulting and has spent more than 30 years developing expertise in strategic human resources, organizational development, and leadership. He has served as a Central Piedmont Trustee since 2020.

Carrie Baker received her appointment from the N.C. Senate. Baker is the Chief HR Officer for Resolution Life US. She serves as a member of the company's executive leadership team, which is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction for the company's U.S. market. A talented HR professional, she has more than 20 years of experience building and managing large-scale human resource strategies for major finance companies.

Arrington Mixon was appointed by the N.C. House of Representatives. After a successful and impactful career with Bank of America, Mixon has followed her desire to engage more deeply in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community as a senior member of one of the largest charitable foundations in North Carolina. Since 2017, she has served on the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Capital Management Trust.

"I am delighted with the reappointment of Jim Dunn and the appointment of Carrie Baker and Arrington Mixon to Central Piedmont's Board of Trustees," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "Each of these individuals brings years of executive leadership experience in a variety of roles and a depth of wisdom that comes from serving on other boards and providing sound counsel. The college is in a period of enrollment growth and yet we have the capacity of serve more Mecklenburg County residents and employers. We look to our trustees to be the college's champions and to help share our story of service and transforming lives in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community."

At the board's July 10 meeting, Dunn was elected to serve as chair for a second consecutive year. Caldwell Rose, president of NAI Southern Real Estate in Charlotte, will serve a second year as vice chair.

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Posted in Foundation News.

Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 ACA Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to our fall 2023 and spring 2024 ACA Scholarship winners!

Each fall and spring semester, the college's Academic Related Courses (ACA) area selects seven recipients for the ACA Scholarship for awards of $600 each. To apply, students had to write an essay answering the question "Being resilient (the ability to recover quickly from difficult conditions) is a life skill that we often do not recognize. How have you been resilient in your journey as a community college student, and what does this journey look like?" Applicants are reviewed based on meeting the scholarship eligibility requirements and on their essay's quality of writing.

Learn more about the ACA Scholarship.

Scholarship Winners

Fall 2023

Fall 2023 Essays (PDF)

  • Yaretzhy Melo-Garcia
  • Lori Jenrette
  • Jaclyn Muckey
  • Sandra Tomas
  • Nandipa Kuuya
  • Maramawit Teketel
  • Thuy Pham

Spring 2024

Spring 2024 Essays (PDF)

  • Momoko Ozaki
  • Elise Ramirez
  • Samantha Stone
  • David Kushnir
  • Nicolas Golafshan
  • Preshonna Stowe
  • Aayush Niroula
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Posted in Foundation News.

Central Piedmont earns reaccreditation

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has reaffirmed the accreditation of Central Piedmont Community College. This 10-year reaffirmation comes after off-site and on-site reviews of the college and its academic programs.

Central Piedmont's reaffirmation means the college overall and its academic programs remain fully accredited. Central Piedmont received official notice of its reaffirmed accreditation on July 1. Central Piedmont's next reaffirmation process will come in 2033-34.

SACSCOC is an institutional accreditor for quality assurance in higher education. SACSCOC accredits institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degrees, including those offered via distance and correspondence education, and direct assessment within these institutions. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among its members in the United States and international institutions of higher education approved by the SACSCOC Executive Council, Board of Trustees, and the Appeals Committee of the College Delegate Assembly.

Accreditation by SACSCOC signifies the institution 1) has a mission appropriate to higher education, 2) has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission, and(3) maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees its offers, and that indicate whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives.

To gain or maintain accreditation with SACSCOC, an institution must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement and with the policies and procedures of the commission. SACSCOC applies the requirements of its principles to all applicant, candidate, and member institutions, regardless of type of institution (public, private for-profit, or private not-for-profit).

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Posted in Foundation News.

Central Piedmont Launches High School Instructor Certificate Program

Bachelor's degree graduates who want to teach part-time in North Carolina high schools now have an avenue through Central Piedmont.

Central Piedmont's High School Adjunct Instructor certificate program provides a course of study leading to the development of the general pedagogy and competencies needed to become an adjunct instructor in a public high school in North Carolina. 

Coursework includes classroom management and pedagogy, effective instructional methods, foundations of education, educational technology, and other related topics. Potential candidates should have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and apply through the College Foundation of North Carolina website.

For more information about Central Piedmont's K-12 teacher preparation programs, contact Jennifer Perkins, program chair, K-12 education. 

"As a provider of K-12 teacher preparation programs, Central Piedmont can impact the current teaching shortage in the Charlotte region and across North Carolina," Perkins said. "The high school adjunct instructor certificate program is a direct path to prepare those interested in teaching part-time by providing the coursework and support to be successful in a high school classroom."

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Posted in Foundation News.

Grant Provides Tools, One-Time Cash Supplements to Central Piedmont Students

Thanks to a grant from Faison Enterprises, Inc., 70 Central Piedmont Community College students in the Construction Management, Electrical Systems Technology, and Welding programs received a tool set valued at nearly $500 to help jump-start their careers.

Tools included safety glasses, helmets, multimeters, measuring tapes, backpacks, and more. Central Piedmont instructors selected the tools to best work for the students as they begin their careers. 

In addition to the tool sets, the students also received a $750 cash supplement to use however they need as they embark on the next step in their academic and career journey. 

"This is an amazing gift," said Colton Droke, an electrical systems technology student. "I didn't have the money to afford something like this, and this a great opportunity. I've been using my grandfather's toolbox, which is more like a tackle box, and a variety of hand-me-down tools. I'll use this every day." 

"This will help me immediately," added Farris Robertson, a dual enrollment student studying carpentry. "I'm very grateful because I would have had to purchase this out of my own pocket, and now I can use that money elsewhere." 

"Faison is very excited to partner with Central Piedmont and launch this pilot program," said Kris Fetter, President and CEO of Faison. "Central Piedmont is such an important institution serving the Charlotte community. We want these students to receive the best education in these fields of study so they can enter the workforce and have a productive, meaningful career."

Faison Enterprises, Inc. was founded in 1988 by Henry J. Faison. His vision was to create a firm that focused primarily on real estate investing, but above all to be a good corporate citizen. The firm's mission is to honor the legacy of Mr. Faison by partnering with nonprofits on transformative initiatives. The pilot program at Central Piedmont fulfills one of the firm's objectives in promoting career/workforce readiness. 

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Posted in Foundation News.

Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Automotive Group make gift of land to Central Piedmont for new training center

Hendrick Automotive Group and local business leader Rick Hendrick have given Central Piedmont Community College approximately 23 acres of land adjacent to the college's Levine Campus in Matthews. Central Piedmont will use the donated property to build a new first responder training facility. 

The gift is the latest milestone in a long-time relationship between Central Piedmont, the Hendrick family, and Charlotte-based Hendrick Automotive Group. The college opened the Joe Hendrick Center for Automotive Technology in 2006 at the Levine Campus. Each year, the center, named for Joseph R. Hendrick Jr., father of Rick Hendrick, serves more than 3,000 students who aspire to be automotive technicians as well as employed technicians who seek updated skills. A gift from the Hendrick family allowed the college to construct the center. 

"Institutions of higher education can flourish and make an enhanced impact only when they have corporate and community partners who are willing to collaborate and dream with them. Central Piedmont has such a partner in Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Automotive Group," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "This generous gift will allow the college to realize its vision of building a first responder training facility in southeast Mecklenburg County, where none currently exists. The college appreciates its long-running partnership with the Hendrick family and Hendrick Automotive Group." 

Plans for the first responder training center include law enforcement, fire and rescue, EMS, forensics, detention, and telecommunicator facilities. Outdoor training spaces will include a scenario training village and emergency driving range. Indoor facilities will provide a firing range and a fire and rescue area with specialized equipment for comprehensive training. The center will be constructed in phases, with the first phase opening in 2027, and phase two opening in 2028. 

"Central Piedmont is a cornerstone of the Charlotte community and our broader region," said Hendrick, the chairman and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group. "Over many years, we've been humbled by our relationship with the school, and we're delighted to support the continued growth of its exceptional Levine Campus. When we broke ground on the Joe Hendrick Center back in 2005, I could not have predicted how substantial its impact would be. With the knowledge that Central Piedmont will use this land to develop a world-class training facility for our first responders, today's announcement is especially meaningful. My family and our teammates at Hendrick Automotive Group are truly honored to be involved." 

In addition to its law enforcement, fire and rescue, EMS and forensics programs, Central Piedmont offers an associate degree program in Public Safety Administration. The two-year program provides students multiple tracks to tailor their experience toward their desired career or current field of expertise.   

The college has designed the Public Safety Administration curriculum to provide students, as well as practitioners, with knowledge and skills in the technical, managerial and administrative areas necessary for entrance or advancement within various public safety and government organizations. Students completing the program can pursue careers within fire and police departments, emergency management organizations, governmental agencies, industrial firms, correctional facilities, private industries, insurance organizations, educational organizations, security and protective organizations, and through self-employment opportunities. 

See the Central Piedmont website for more information about the college's first responder and public safety administration programs. 

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Posted in Foundation News.

Central Piedmont’s Truist Honors Scholars Prepared for Beyond What’s Next

Central Piedmont Community College's Truist Honors Program understands the importance of preparing scholars for the next step in their life journey.

Central Piedmont's first research subcommittee of Truist Honors Scholars developed dissertation-like proposals and research-based academic presentations to present at academic conferences followed by an Honors Program Expo, where scholars presented to a group of students, faculty, staff, and college leaders.

The goal of the research subcommittee is to educate and expose undergraduate honors scholars to experiences and opportunities related to their interests and long-term goals whether they plan to earn a degree, transfer, or enter the workplace. The program defines success as preparing scholars for beyond what's next.

Scholars worked for months to understand the terms associated with research, how to conduct a literature review, the use of theories to support their research, the population of interest, and the justification of choices made to support their proposal method and design. Universities and employers value individuals who know the usefulness of research in addition to knowing how to utilize data to tell a story, make decisions, and develop plans.

Ultimately, they desire critical thinking, communication, collaboration, information and technology literacy, individuals who are comfortable with research and data, and understand the practical application without the fear that many students have when they hear the word research.

Truist Honors Scholars can participate in designated honors courses, honors curated events, and/or immersion experiences aligned with research, scholarship, and innovation. All of these align with the foundations of Central Piedmont's Honors Program from the hands-on experience of developing a research proposal, identifying existing literature and credible resources, applying research to the local and global community, and using their leadership skills to create clearly defined goals during the research process.

Throughout their experiences, scholars are required to reflect and describe their academic, professional, and personal growth as well as the impact of these experiences on their future. Truist Honors Scholars described these experiences as life-changing for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason is that they now know they can do it.

Deninne Pritchett, honors program faculty director, shares that "even as a seasoned professional and terminal degree holder," she learns more about research every day, as well as ways to improve how to investigate, display, and manage data. She adds, "If there had been a focus on research, data, and reporting during my community college years, I would have understood more about developing original research than I did at the beginning of my PhD journey."

This highlights the importance of Central Piedmont's Truist Honors Scholars' taste of doctoral life while attending community college which opens a whole new world of possibilities.

Central Piedmont hopes to fuel students' interest and passion for research by launching the Piedmont Interdisciplinary Studies Journal (PISJ), a peer-reviewed academic journal for undergraduate and graduate researchers to publish starting in Fall 2024. The honors program-supported journal will accept scholarly work from various academic fields: empirical research, literature reviews, theoretical analysis, book reviews, and literature-supported student topic papers.

Contact Dr. Deninne Pritchett for details about the Truist Honors Program and the Piedmont Interdisciplinary Studies Journal.

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Posted in Foundation News.

Central Piedmont's President's Report: May 2024

The May President's Report highlights our recent accomplishments and impactful initiatives made possible through your unwavering support. Play the video to find out what else is included in the May President's Report.

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Posted in Foundation News.

Central Piedmont receives $1 million gift from Coca-Cola Consolidated for scholarships, program support

CHARLOTTE, NC Central Piedmont Community College has received a $1 million gift from Coca-Cola Consolidated to support U.S. military veterans and first responder scholarships, provide program support, and assist with other critical needs at the college.

Central Piedmont provides its military veteran students a range of services in a purposeful and caring way aimed at helping them transition from military service to civilian success in the classroom and the community while accessing all available veterans benefits. The college's first responder or public safety programs include Basic Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medicine, Fire Protection, and Public Safety Administration.

Headquartered in Charlotte, Coca-Cola Consolidated is the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States, serving consumers, customers and communities for more than 122 years. The company makes, sells and distributes beverages of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies in more than 300 brands and flavors across 14 states and the District of Columbia to approximately 60 million consumers. Coca-Cola Consolidated was named the "World's Most Admired Company" by Fortune and "America's Most Successful Midsize Company" by Forbes in 2024.

"We are honored to partner with Central Piedmont to support U.S. military veterans and first responders in this way," said Morgan Everett, Vice Chair, Coca-Cola Consolidated. "Our purpose to serve others includes extending a pathway to opportunity, and we hope this gift will provide critical job-readiness skills to our community members as they enter the workforce."

Recognizing the growing need for public safety professionals in Mecklenburg County, Central Piedmont launched a new associate degree program in Public Safety Administration in August 2023. The two-year program offers students multiple tracks to tailor their experience toward their desired career or current field of expertise. The program tracks include security and loss prevention, emergency and fire management, law enforcement, and corrections.

"Central Piedmont thanks Coca-Cola Consolidated for its generous gift in support of our military veteran and first responder students," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "This gift will ease the financial burdens of deserving students who have chosen to serve their country and protect our community. Coca-Cola Consolidated's support will have a significant and positive impact for generations to come."

The Coca-Cola Consolidated gift is the latest initiative in a multi-year partnership between the company and the college. Coca-Cola Consolidated and Central Piedmont also have collaborated to develop a unique workplace learning program. The Coca-Cola Consolidated Apprenticeship Program is a hands-on learning opportunity that provides paid apprenticeships to stimulate interest in high-demand positions in the manufacturing, equipment repair, and logistics sectors at Coke Consolidated's facilities in the Charlotte area. Through the program, apprentices work approximately 20 hours weekly while completing three to four college courses each semester. Apprentices transition to full-time positions upon successful completion of the program.

About Central Piedmont

Central Piedmont Community College is highly accessible and convenient to people of all ages who seek a real-world, affordable, hands-on education that will transform their lives and strengthen the economic, social, and cultural environment of Mecklenburg County. Central Piedmont is a smart investment. At a fraction of the cost, students learn by doing, receiving a combination of technical and soft skills training from quality faculty who prepare them to enter the workforce and make a difference in their family, business, community, and world. Founded in 1963, Central Piedmont Community College has eight locations throughout Mecklenburg County, offering nearly 300 degree, diploma, and certification programs; customized corporate training; market-focused continuing education; and special interest classes. For more information, visit, or connect with the college on social media.

About Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc.

Coca-Cola Consolidated is the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States. Our Purpose is to honor God in all we do, to serve others, to pursue excellence and to grow profitably. For over 122 years, we have been deeply committed to the consumers, customers and communities we serve and are passionate about the broad portfolio of beverages and services we offer. We make, sell and distribute beverages of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies in more than 300 brands and flavors across 14 states and the District of Columbia, to approximately 60 million consumers.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Coca-Cola Consolidated is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "COKE." More information about the company is available online. Follow Coca-Cola Consolidated on FacebookXInstagram and LinkedIn. 

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Posted in Foundation News.

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