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Central Piedmont plans drive

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By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With enrollment rising and state support falling, Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte is gearing up for its biggest capital campaign ever.

The school has identified unmet needs totaling $42 million and is set to launch a study on how big a campaign to undertake.

With the help of Charlotte consulting firm Vandever Batten, the CPCC Foundation plans to spend four months assessing potential support and its readiness for a campaign.

It also is preparing to begin the campaign’s quiet phase, identifying big gifts and campaign leaders. The public phase would begin next summer, timed to coincide with the school’s 40th anniversary.

Enrollment at CPCC’s six campuses grew 28 percent in the three fiscal years ended June 30, including a 10 percent increase to 70,000 in the most recent fiscal year.

The slumping economy has prompted laid-off workers to learn new skills, while an influx of Spanish-speaking residents has created demand for classes in English as a second language, says Brenda Lea, executive director of the CPCC Foundation.

And skilled trades such as plumbing and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning need workers to fill the jobs of those who have moved on to white-collar work, she says.

CPCC has 26,000 students learning workforce skills or pursuing personal interests, 22,000 taking college-credit courses, 13,000 acquiring literacy or studying English as a second language, and 9,000 dislocated workers.

Another 26,000 take the school’s short-term corporate and continuing education program used by 400 to 500 companies a year.

Capital needs at CPCC, which also assists small-business owners, include $24 million for lab instruments, computers and other equipment; $10 million for scholarships; $3.7 million to meet state budget cuts and other emergencies; $2.3 million to sustain new programs; and $2 million to launch roughly a dozen more new programs such as forensic studies, training for morticians and classes in the use of medical surgical technologies.

A big priority is for scholarship funds, says Reade Baker, the foundation’s director of development.

“We would like to make it possible for anybody who cannot afford a college education to be able to find a scholarship at CPCC,” he says.

After cutting 200 classes this summer because of state budget cuts and expecting to cut as many as 500 more this fall, the school has launched an “adopt-a-class” drive that has raised $50,000, mainly from corporations.

The foundation, which for the past three years has raised $3.3 million a year on average in private support and has a $10.6 million endowment, depends mainly on board members and other volunteer fundraisers to make personal calls on individuals and corporations.

“The backbone in any successful campaign is the work of volunteers and face-to-face contact with community leaders,” Baker says.

Lea agrees.

“The real big challenge for us,” she says, “is to challenge the business community, as well as individuals who have the means in the community, to become our partners.”

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