Dreamkeepers - Carolina Country
Supporting Students’ Dreams October 2020
Supporting Students’ Dreams
October 2020

Brad Baker, Class of 2019

Everyone has a dream for their life. When you were younger, you might have dreamt of becoming an astronaut or president. As you got older, your dreams might have shifted to becoming a nurse or a paralegal. Unfortunately, many people are unable to support these dreams financially. Students are often faced with financial hardships and are forced to choose between school and paying rent or buying groceries.

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) established the Dreamkeeper Fund, which launched in 2016 to help students achieve their dreams. This program provides just-in-time financial support for students who face financial challenges that may result in them dropping out. Students can receive up to $400 per school year.

“Our students are truly just grateful, and it means they can go on to provide a better life,” said Emily Hare, executive director of the CCCC Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on innovative curriculum and community service.

The Dreamkeeper Fund

The idea of the Dreamkeeper Fund came about when a tornado hit Sanford in 2011. But it was not known just how many students were in financial need until Hurricane Florence struck. This event brought to light numerous students’ needs. Many were food and housing insecure; half of these students were unable to come up with $500.

“CCCC created a food pantry to help students get by, but that was just a little Band-Aid to get students to persist,” described Hare.

In a survey from 2019, it was discovered that 54 percent of CCCC students had run out of money three or more times in the past year, and 68 percent said they would have trouble gathering $500 in cash or credit to meet an expected need in the next month. To add, 53 percent of students showed signs of housing insecurity, and 29 percent reported low food security. The Dreamkeeper Program works to tackle these conditions.

CCCC created a food pantry to help students get by, but that was just a little Band-Aid to get students to persist

However, conditions have only worsened during the COVID-19 crisis.

Hare describes the application process that the CCCC Foundation follows to award students funds.

“Students send in applications; whereby, they have a time- limited emergency expense. We proceed to find out what information is missing and what led to the situation,” said Hare. “In doing so, we are able to better determine who needs funds. Our committee checks references from CCCC faculty and staff and examines each application on an individual basis.”

Funding is given directly to vendors, like landlords and utility companies. If food or housing is needed, the Foundation provides food from the CCCC pantry, as well as, connecting the student with local non-profits and the Rapid Rehousing Foundation.

Since its inception in 2016, 161 students have been served with an average of $334 spent per student.

Out of all the students who have received funds, 60 percent graduated, transferred, or re-enrolled to continue their education. These students are most at-risk for dropping out without assistance.

The program receives funds from an annual on-campus fund drive and has solicited donations from businesses. However, to continue to support their students and to combat COVID-19’s financial effects, CCCC was awarded a $10,000 Operation Round-Up Grant from South River EMC.

For every dollar donated to this fund, it has been calculated that the return on investment is 426 percent. The funds from the Operation Round-Up Grant will impact almost 200 students in the Harnett County area.

Brad Baker was a recipient of Dreamkeeper funds and graduated in 2019. Currently, he is a Game Day assistant, running sound and the scoreboard for CCCC volleyball and basketball games. He also has his own DJ company.

Because of the Dreamkeeper funds, Baker was able to graduate and give back to his CCCC community.

“We are so grateful to South River EMC. The grant is going to make a difference in the lives of our students, and they are going to pay it forward,” stated Hare. “Imagine going to your local hospital, a lot of times the nurses and staff have been trained at CCCC, and you want them to have the best education.”

CCCC is a two-year public community college serving over 16,000 curriculum and continuing education students from Chatham, Harnett, and Lee Counties annually.

Find out more

For more information about Central Carolina Community College, the curriculum, or the Dreamkeepers Fund, visit cccc.edu.

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