Second Cohort of STRIVE Scholars Graduates

Central Piedmont is excited to announce that its second cohort of STRIVE Scholars graduated yesterday during a special commencement ceremony on the college's Harris Campus.

The STRIVE (Strengthening Teachers. Reaching Individuals. Valuing Everyone.) Scholars program is a joint early childhood education initiative between the college, Mecklenburg County, The Foundation for the Carolinas, and the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council that seeks to address a local shortage in the public Pre-K teacher workforce. The program accomplishes this goal by removing the many financial and personal barriers students who are pursuing an associate degree in early childhood education may face by providing them with better access and the support services they need to succeed.

Founded in January 2020, the STRIVE Scholars Program has graduated 38 students to date. Twenty-five scholars graduated from the program during the May 10 ceremony, and more STRIVE scholarships are set to be awarded to eligible students in summer and fall 2022.

The program provides full tuition, fees, books, and materials funding to academically-qualified applicants preparing to become educators of young children in Mecklenburg County. In addition to receiving financial assistance, scholars also receive access to mental health supports, professional and personal development opportunities, and can apply for need-based support, including assistance with transportation and child care.

"The STRIVE Scholars program supports higher education access by removing barriers that may cause a student to lose focus and not be able to give 100 percent to their studies," said Toria Grant, STRIVE recruitment project manager and an early childhood education instructor at Central Piedmont. "This program helps us produce graduates who are prepared to serve the county's ever-growing pre-k population by providing Mecklenburg's youngsters with a high quality pre-K education that will better prepare them for their primary education and achieving academic success in the future."

Learn more about the program or attend a virtual STRIVE information session.

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Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Foundation News, Scholarships, Students.

Partnership with BCBS of North Carolina Aims to Build Diversity in Insurance Industry

Through a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Central Piedmont Community College has received $211,485 to provide scholarships to develop a more diverse and inclusive talent pool of trained and licensed individuals for the insurance production and sales industry. The goal of the partnership is to increase access to underserved populations and communities by diversifying the pool of licensed insurance agents.

Central Piedmont will use the funds to offer scholarships to 26 students per year for five years to cover the cost of insurance pre-licensing courses provided by the college plus licensing exam fees and NC Department of Insurance fees. As scholarship recipients, students also will receive instruction through the "Working Smart: Essential Skills for Workplace Success and Career Development" program and wrap-around services, including interview preparation, additional academic and career counseling, and small business counseling.

Scholarship eligibility is open to persons who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Black
  • Hispanic
  • Bilingual English-Spanish
  • Female
  • Age 18-49
  • Workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Persons in transition leaving high school or college, or looking to make a career change.

Interested individuals can apply to the program starting in May. Successful applicants will be notified in July, with classes beginning in late-August.

"Central Piedmont is so appreciative of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for making such an investment to advance diversity in the field of insurance agents," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "We know this program will generate much interest and provide another pathway at the college that will lead to rewarding and family-sustaining careers with great opportunities for advancement, perhaps even business ownership."

For more information, contact Hunter Smith, director of Central Piedmont's James R. Worrell Sr. Financial Services Institute, at 704-330-4685 and hunter.smith@cpcc.edu.

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Posted in Announcements, Community, Foundation News.

Alumni Highlight - Joe Vagnone '87

For the last nine years, Joe Vagnone has been hosting "Local Biz Now," a radio program on WSIC 105.9FM dedicated to sharing a behind-the-scenes look at area businesses, with advice for new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. His own experience spans a wide variety of industries, including multi-state restaurant concepts, multiple different franchises, publishing, and more. For 30-plus years, he has also worked as a business broker, helping others to buy and sell small businesses.

Joe Vagnone"I like to say, 'I have bought, sold, owned and operated more small businesses than anybody I have ever met,'" Vagnone says, with a smile. And it all began at Central Piedmont with an Associate in Applied Science degree in hotel and restaurant management in 1987.

It was a natural fit for him, he says, a first generation college student pursuing his goal to own a restaurant and be self-employed.

"The holistic approach to education and training within the hospitality industry at the time was one of the top in the country," says Vagnone, who received Central Piedmont's Hagemeyer Award in 2015--the prestigious honor is given to one outstanding alumnus or alumna annually. 

"This approach required me to understand accounting, legal, and personnel issues and prepared me for rapid growth, allowing me to rise above my contemporaries..." he says.

Outside of classes, he also gained valuable leadership experience at the college. That included stints as student body president and as an executive board member of the Hotel Restaurant Association Club, for which he traveled across the country promoting the college's hotel and restaurant management program (now known as "hospitality management") at industry expos.

After graduating, Vagnone opened his first sandwich shop with the help of connections and relationships he had made through the college.

For Central Piedmont students just starting out, he offers this advice: "To succeed, learning is not a singular or defined process. It is constantly learning something new and enjoying the process, while applying it in an intentional manner."

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Posted in Alumni, Community, Foundation News. Tagged as alumni spotlight, alumni success.

Central Piedmont Contributes Nearly $1 Billion to Mecklenburg Economy

The results of an economic impact study conducted for Central Piedmont Community College found the institution contributes $827.7 million annually to the Mecklenburg County economy, an amount equal to 0.7 percent of the county's gross regional product.

Central Piedmont's measured annual $827.7 million economic impact includes $139.9 million in operations spending, $35.6 million in construction spending, $30.8 million in student spending, and a $621.4-million impact made by college alumni who live and work in Mecklenburg County.

Expressed in terms of jobs, Central Piedmont's $827.7 million impact supports 11,274 jobs, or about one out of 85 jobs in Mecklenburg County.

"For almost 60 years, Central Piedmont Community College has established a solid record and reputation for making a positive impact in Mecklenburg County," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "We know generations of students and hundreds of employers have been benefited from having a comprehensive college and workforce development partner such as Central Piedmont serving Charlotte-Mecklenburg. We also know Central Piedmont makes a significant impact as an economic engine, boosting the county's economy and generating an excellent return on the investment made by students and taxpayers."

The economic modeling firm Emsi conducted the study, looking at college data from the 2019-20 fiscal year. The study found that for every dollar students invest in their Central Piedmont education they receive $3.80 in future earnings for an annual rate of return of 17 percent. For every dollar of public money invested in the college, taxpayers receive $1.40 for an average rate of return of 2.5 percent. From a societal perspective, for every dollar invested in Central Piedmont, residents in North Carolina receive $6.40 in return from the contributions made by Central Piedmont graduates in the state's workforce.

For more details about the economic impact study, please read the full Executive Summary of the Economic Value of Central Piedmont or view the Central Piedmont economic impact fact sheet. Both documents are accessible on the college's Reports and Publications Web page.

"Central Piedmont creates value and helps power the Charlotte-Mecklenburg economic engine in many ways. The college helps students increase their employability and achieve their individual potential. The college helps keep students in the county, generating new dollars and opportunities for Mecklenburg County. Central Piedmont provides students with the education, training, and skills they need to have fulfilling and prosperous careers that provide real economic mobility," Deitemeyer said.

"The college supports the vast variety of industries in Mecklenburg County, serves county businesses, and benefits society as a whole in North Carolina from an expanded economy and improved quality of life. Additionally, the benefits created by Central Piedmont extend to the state and local government through increased tax revenues and public sector savings. Now, more than ever, as Mecklenburg County emerges from the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, Central Piedmont is a sound investment and critical community partner," Deitemeyer added.

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Posted in Announcements, Community, Foundation News. Tagged as economic impact.

Central Piedmont Alumna to Compete on "Chopped"

Chef Lisa BrooksCentral Piedmont Culinary Arts Alumna Lisa Brooks will be competing on the Food Network's "Chopped" on February 15 at 9 p.m. Watch Lisa compete against three other chefs in the special "Black History Month" episode to see if she will be named the Chopped Champion.

Chef Brooks will also be a featured guest at the Central Piedmont Foundation's Swirl event on April 8, 2022.


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Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Foundation News. Tagged as alumni spotlight.

Central Piedmont Selects Artists to Design Mural for New Student Union

Central Piedmont Community College has selected two local artists, Rosalia Torres-Weiner and Felicia Sky Sutton, to create a large-scale mural honoring the past history of the college, documenting the present, and reflecting the aspirations of Central Piedmont students for the future.

Torres-Weiner and Sutton, former Central Piedmont students, were chosen from a highly skilled pool of applicants to work collaboratively with students, faculty, and staff to create an interactive mural. The art work will be located in the dining area of the college's new student union, a part of Central Piedmont's new Parr Center complex, located on the Central Campus. The Parr Center will serve as the student services hub and include a new campus library, a 430-seat theater, a rooftop terrace, a 1,100- square-foot art gallery, and a maker's space for students to explore careers and creativity. The Parr Center will open to students and the public later this year.

According to the project's request for proposal, the mural's graphic design will span an 8-foot by 30-foot wall on the first floor of the 184,000-square-foot building. Its placement will benefit from the nearby dining space, which is flooded with natural light thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlook the Charlotte city skyline. The mural will demonstrate the college's commitment to the fine arts and its support for the creative culture of its surrounding community.

Rosalia Torres-Weiner is an artist, activist and community leader in Charlotte. Her art captures the themes, colors and rich symbolism of her native home of Mexico. She took her first steps toward a creative career by taking graphic design courses at Central Piedmont. After operating a successful interior arts business, Torres-Weiner shifted the focus of her work from commercial art to art activism in 2010, by using her art to document social conditions and to raise awareness about issues affecting immigrant communities such as family separation, access to public education, racism, and moving beyond common stereotypes. Her work is featured in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum and has been exhibited in a variety of venues, including the McColl Center for Arts and Innovation, Levine Museum of the New South, the City of Raleigh Museum, the Latin American Center for Arts Gallery, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the Mexican Cultural Institute at the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C. Her story "The Magic Kite" was adapted by The Children's Theatre of Charlotte.

Felicia Sky Sutton is an educator, muralist, and multimedia artist who believes art creation and art education are an important pathway to self-empowerment. Working with paint, video, digital illustration, and most recently animation, She captures the essence of her subjects and tells stories through colorful portraiture, symbolism, and visual metaphors. Sutton is passionate about the use of public art to empower, build, and strengthen communities, and to bring new life to forgotten spaces. She attended Central Piedmont's dual enrollment program before transferring to and graduating from Appalachian State University with a bachelor's degree in art and visual culture. Her work has been in a number of group and solo exhibitions in Boone, N.C.; Charlotte and, most recently, in Philadelphia. In addition, she has been published in multiple publications and magazines.

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Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Campus, Foundation News.

Donation Tax Benefits Expire 12/31

Attention Central Piedmont donors:

A temporary and pandemic-related tax provision will permit deductions for donations to qualifying charities on 2021 federal income tax returns.  

Married couples filing jointly can deduct up to $600 in cash donations while individual taxpayers can deduct up to $300 in donations. Taxpayers will not need to itemize deductions of their tax returns to take advantage of the provision, which creates tax-favorable donation options not normally available to about 90 percent of tax filers.

This provision applies to donations made by December 31, 2021.

For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/expanded-tax-benefits-help-individuals-and-businesses-give-to-charity-in-2021

To make a gift to Central Piedmont, visit our donation page.

Thanks to all who support Central Piedmont with your time, talent, and treasures. 

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Posted in Announcements, Foundation News.

Alumni Spotlight: Fidel Dennis '17

Fidel Dennis' journeFidel Dennis with arms crossedy is one of perseverance and grit. He first learned about Central Piedmont from a family member who attended the college after moving to the area from another state. In an effort to improve his grades, he too, started his collegiate education at Central Piedmont. However, that was his sole goal with his eyes set on attending a four-year institution as soon as possible. 

He met a lot of people, and being in college was an exciting time. After one year, he transferred to another institution to pursue civil engineering. Quickly he found the experience to be different, mainly due to no longer being able to receive in-state tuition. Finances were becoming a great strain. This experience led him back to Central Piedmont but with a renewed sense of dedication and focus. 

Upon his return to Central Piedmont, Fidel utilized the available resources, made deeper connections, and even met his now wife. In 2017 he received an Associate of Applied Science degree in architectural technology with honors and a job offer in hand. 

As a young adult and Liberian immigrant, he is thankful for the growth that his educational journey and transition to the United States yielded. Many of the lessons he has gained and his ability to embrace change is detailed in the book "Alien Adulthood." Fidel Dennis with book Alien Adulthood

Today, he works with Bluescope as an engineering detailer, ensuring prefab steel structures are designed in accordance with regulations. Every day he is inspired by the people who have helped him along the way--family, teachers, professors. He strives to continually gain knowledge that he can in turn share with others.

He encourages current and future students alike to "see the opportunities that are within sight--the meaningful experiences, knowledge, and skills for your future goals--and go for it!"

Share your own Central Piedmont journey and successes to be considered for a future spotlight.

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Posted in Alumni, Foundation News. Tagged as alumni spotlight, alumni success.

College Honors James W. Allison

Central Piedmont Community College recognized James "Jim" W. Allison, a long-time Central Piedmont benefactor and respected Charlotte lawyer, by naming Room 1221 of the Zeiss Building on the college's Central Campus, the "James W. Allison Classroom" in honor of his 17-year relationship with the college.

Judy and James Allison in front of the James W. Allison ClassroomThe college will use Room 1221 for paralegal technology instruction beginning in 2022, when its paralegal program relocates from Cato Campus to Central Campus. The classroom naming aligns perfectly with Mr. Allison's professional interests he dedicated his career to working as a business lawyer, working primarily for Johnston, Allison & Hord PA. There, he helped counsel a number of clients representing the higher education, real estate, and healthcare fields including Central Piedmont Community College.

Over the years, Mr. Allison has served as the college's legal counsel, helping its leadership acquire facilities/property across the county to help expand its footprint to meet the needs of students and the community.

However, his contributions to the college's growth extend beyond his legal work. He and his wife Judy a Central Piedmont Board of Trustees member since 2010 have generously donated their time and resources to Central Piedmont, establishing the Judith N. & James W. Allison Endowed Scholarship to support students in the paralegal program (with a veteran preference), and the Johnston, Allison & Hord Scholarship to support students in the college's paralegal program.

"Jim and Judy have been generous supporters of the college, establishing endowed scholarship funds to extend opportunities to financially-needy students in our paralegal program," said Kandi Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont. "This generosity has made it possible for numerous students to prepare for meaningful careers as paralegals. The gift to name this classroom will increase available scholarship resources and provide additional life-transforming financial assistance to students."

Watch a recording of the dedication event.

View photos from event.

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Posted in Announcements, Campus, Foundation News.

2020-2021 Annual Report Now Available Online

The Central Piedmont Annual Report is ready to view online at cpccfoundation.org/annualreport.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020-2021, the college continued to serve as the community's college, providing the support services, courses, and career training its students needed to stay on track, within an environment that fostered a culture of care.

We are grateful for the continued support of our donors, industry partners, and friends who believe in our vision of providing learning experiences that transform lives and strengthen the local community.

Please enjoy this interactive reading experience, while learning more about our 2020-2021 accomplishments and celebrating our many successes with us through videos, photos, and more.

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Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Foundation News.

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