A deeper community connection

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in North Carolina and Cornerstone Church have partnered on a program to help local residents through job training. (Photo: RCCC)

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in North Carolina has a new community partner in helping unemployed and underemployed people.

The college is working with Cornerstone Church to connect with people within the church’s congregation through a network of volunteer ambassadors.

“We know there are people in our congregation who need help improving their skills and getting a better job,” said Cornerstone Bishop Bill Godair. “This is a way to meet them where they are, deliver information in a personal way, and make education and training more accessible.”

Editor’s note: This article comes from the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st Century Center.

The ambassador program trains church staff and parishioners to provide information about Rowan-Cabarrus to church and community members. The college’s R3 (ReFocus, ReTrain, ReEmploy) team follows up to assist with specific program details and services, such as career coaching, adult basic education, job search assistance and digital literacy.

Ambassadors are not college employees but participate in an initial four-hour volunteer training session and meet twice quarterly for continuing education and updates. Led by Keri Allman of the Rowan-Cabarrus Division of Corporate and Continuing Education, five Cornerstone ambassadors already are helping members of the congregation begin their journey at the College.

“Our successful education and job placement efforts depend on strong relationships with community partners,” said Craig Lamb, the college’s vice president of corporate and continuing education. “Sometimes people who need our affordable education and job training the most are not aware of the programs we offer. We look forward to spreading the ambassador program throughout Rowan and Cabarrus counties.”

Paving roads

Important connections have already been made as a result of this program. Cornerstone member Alan Murrah, who plays lead guitar in the church band and is the church’s social media manager, has already enrolled at Rowan-Cabarrus because of the information he received through the ambassador program. He is taking general education courses to obtain his associate in arts degree in preparation to transfer into a music program at a four-year institution, with the ultimate goal of serving a church as a worship pastor or music director.

Not only did Murrah learn about course offerings at Rowan-Cabarrus through the ambassador program, but the connections helped ensure that the college could help him resolve issues with his financial aid in time to meet the registration deadline and start classes this semester.

“It definitely is a good way to find out what’s out there,” Murrah said. “I had originally planned to go to another college all four years, but when I found out how much more affordable Rowan-Cabarrus was, I was sold.”

Ambassadors also are able to help individuals find resume writing help, job search support, career assessment and planning, scholarship and financial aid resources and more.

“We are very excited about the ambassador program. This partnership paves the way for other organizations to form similar ambassador programs,” said Keri Allman, program manager at Rowan-Cabarrus.

About the Author

Carol Spalding
s president of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, North Carolina.