Our State, Our Work

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Our State, Our Work

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Our State, Our Work

Success Stories

Clay County: Achieve HIGHTS

“In less than a year’s time, Sienna’s transformation has been inspiring to her community members and to the Our State, Our Work team who have donated time and resources to support her. She has been an inspiration to fellow students.”

– offered by Our State, Our Work Team 1, Achieve HIGHTS!

Sienna is a 17-year-old who came to Clay County in November 2022 with her mother and sisters after moving from shelter to shelter across several Western North Carolina counties. She is one of three triplet girls. The triplets were guided to Tri-County Community College (TCCC) and registered with the Bridge Academy, an Achieve HIGHTS partner providing multiple pathways for high school dropouts to obtain High School Equivalency or Adult High School Diplomas. While she was studying for her Adult High School Diploma, community members helped Sienna secure a job at a local grocery store. Community members and Our State, Our Work team members provided rides to and from work to help Sienna sustain the job. After understanding the family’s situation, many community members provided food, funds for the family to stay in motels, holiday gifts through the local Salvation Army.

Sienna obtained her Adult High School Diploma in May 2023. At the graduation ceremony, she was awarded the first annual Daniel Rattler Award. This award was established by Tri-County Community College in honor of a Native American man who worked hard to overcome barriers and obtain his own High School Equivalency Diploma through the TCCC program in his sixties.

When Sienna’s mother left the state, a Clay County family gained custody of the sisters. The community gathered its resources and built a tiny home on the custodians’ property for the triplets. Sienna blossomed with the support of the community and is currently attending college at TCCC. She is studying art, maintains a 4.0 average, and hopes to transfer to a four-year university. Sienna wants to give back to her community and is working at a local non-profit, Four Square, primarily preparing food boxes for delivery to families in need.

Burke County: My Future Burke County

“I am proud of myself for getting out of my shell and putting myself out there and getting to know people better.”

– Kelsey, Team 2 participant

Kelsey is an 18-year-old participating with Our State, Our Work Team 2, “Work in Burke.” When she first connected with Team 2, Kelsey felt intimidated by the process of exploring career opportunities and figuring out her options. Through Work in Burke, Kelsey was connected with a hospital internship which led to employment. This tremendous success is just the first step for Kelsey, who hopes to earn a nursing degree and remain employed in the medical field.

Mecklenburg County: Opportunity YOU

“I get up every day thinking about going to class and work. It really puts me in a different mindset so that one day I may have secure housing.”

– Molly, Team 4 participant

Molly is a 22-year-old who became connected with Our State, Our Work Team 4, “Opportunity YOU, “when she was housing insecure, but determined to change her life. The Opportunity YOU team connected her with job shadowing opportunities, tours of local businesses, internship and leadership activities, and volunteer roles that helped her turn her find a new way forward. She became an intern with the Academic Learning Center at Central Piedmont Community College and is now enrolled in a Dental Assistant Program, earning a 4.0 GPA.  Molly says she has no idea where she would be without Opportunity YOU and says the program has motivated her to do her best and be her best self. “They have helped to transform my life. I don’t think I could be where I am today had it not been for this program walking alongside of me.”

Orange County: Summer Careers Academy

One young woman participating with Our State, Our Work Team 8 through their Summer Careers Academy program didn’t know what she wanted to do to for her career when first enrolling in the eight-week summer program. After completing her in-class and on-the-job training, she felt more confident and prepared to take the next step. After Team 8 helped her find a job she’s interested in, she is now successfully balancing taking classes at a local community college and working at Chapel Hill Tire.

Bladen County: Communities Connected 4 Success

Quesheem became connected with Our State, Our Work Team 9, Communities Connected For Success, through Men and Women United for Youth and Families (MWUYF). He was not in school full-time. His mom was experiencing some challenges with stable housing and making ends meet. At age 17, he had dropped out of school and began living with his girlfriend and her family. He was working some, mostly jobs in labor. Periodically, he would reach out to MWUYF for advice and support. He always wanted to work to take care of himself. Because he lacked transportation, housing, a high school diploma, and family support, Quasheem was not able to get on track. MWUYF offered him an opportunity to work on some short-term projects in a gardening program. He recruited his cousin Travis to assist. Eventually, both young men inquired about any programs that could assist them with their barriers. They are now working with MWUYF, enrolled in a workforce development program where they receive case management. They have also obtained North Carolina drivers licenses. Quasheem is in the GED program at Bladen Community College, where he and Travis will be soon enrolled in the welding program.

Wilson County: Wilson Workforce Alliance

DeAndre was a 20-year-old senior in Wilson County Schools who had failed his English course twice. He was at high risk of becoming disconnected from the school system before graduating with no clear job prospects. He became connected with Taj Martin of Collins Aerospace while participating in the Communicating with Confidence program. Taj stayed in touch with DeAndre after the program, providing encouragement and mentoring, and eventually hired him to work at Collins Aerospace this year. This story is offered by the Our State, Our Work Team 12 (Wilson Workforce Alliance).

Our State, Our Work

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Who Are Opportunity Youth?

Opportunity Youth are young adults ages 16 to 24 who are not enrolled in school and not working full or part time. These individuals are sometimes referred to as disconnected youth, however, at Carolina Across 100 we prefer “Opportunity Youth” because it captures our sense of optimism that all young people can thrive if we provide the systems, tools, and resources necessary for navigating this period of life.

Stories of Thriving from across North Carolina

Our hope is that, alongside our community teams, we can take these individual “stories of thriving” and create systems-level programming across the state that creates accessible on-ramps to education and employment.

Stories of Thriving Across North Carolina