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Over 200 Golden LEAF Scholars attend leadership conference
Students engage in a weekend of leadership training, service,
rural community awareness

During the 2014 Labor Day weekend, 203 freshmen, sophomore, and junior Golden LEAF Scholars came to Greensboro from across the state to engage in leadership training, complete a service project for NC food banks and present information about their home communities and summer internships.


The largest group of scholars participating in the 2014 Labor Day conference was from Halifax County.

The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program (GLSLP), which is open to recipients of the four-year Golden LEAF Scholarship, consists of two weekend-long conferences and a six-week paid summer internship. During the gatherings, scholars learn leadership, team building and workforce readiness skills.

Scholars in this program are assigned a coach who provides ongoing leadership support and helps them obtain a summer internship in a rural NC community related to their career interests. The program pays the scholars a stipend during their internships.


The GLSLP coaches are from all across the state and have a variety of work experiences and connections to help add value to the scholars' experiences.

"I really want to continue to live in a rural area. The program is putting me in touch with the people I need to know to get a job."
Justin Jeffress, GLSLP freshman

Scholars also participate in other tasks like evaluating their county's assets and challenges and participating in community events such as service projects or local meetings. The scholars then present a report on these activities at the conference.


Golden LEAF Program Officer Barbara Smith (right) talks with Emil Chapman about his summer project in his hometown in Warren County.

GLSLP participants also network with other Golden LEAF Scholars from across the state.

This year, the students participated in a service project that provided lentil soup packets to food banks in 26 rural NC counties. The scholars learned about hunger in the United States and how the packets they were putting together were not only not only tasty and filling, but also had ingredients that reverse the effects of malnutrition.

In January 2014, the GLSLP graduated its first group of seniors. Each member of the first cohort of scholars that completed all four years of the program earned up to a total of $7,650 in stipends by participating in the leadership training conferences and completing 6-week internships in rural NC communities.

In the four years of the GLSLP, 482 Golden LEAF Scholars have participated in the program. The Center for Creative Leadership developed the GLSLP and has been managing it since its creation in 2010.

Some of our scholars told us more about their individual experiences with the program and their future goals:


Scholar - Cady Childress
GLSLP Program -Freshman
College - UNC-Chapel Hill
Major - History & Elementary Education
Home County - Caldwell
First Generation College Student - Yes

Internship site - Lenoir County Schools /
Lenoir County
"I helped Lenoir County Schools set up the Read to Achieve Camp, shadowed the principal and also worked in a class," said Childress. "I was able to work with kids one on one. I'm excited that this opportunity will help me open doors in the future."

Justin Jeffress Scholar - Justin Jeffress
GLSLP Program - Freshman
College - Campbell University
Major - Kinesiology

Home County - Johnston

First Generation College Student - Yes
Internship Site - Benson Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center / Johnston County
"During my internship, I was able to work with patients on stretches and manual therapy," said Jeffress. "It confirmed my interest in my chosen career field and helped me realize the demand for it in a rural community. I really want to continue to live in a rural area. The program is putting me in touch with the people I need to know to get a job."

Mark Abercrombie Scholar - Mark Abercrombie
GLSLP Program -
College - Western Carolina University
Major - Criminal Justice
Home County - Rutherford

First Generation College Student - Yes
Internship Sites - (Years 1 & 2) Rutherford County Sheriff's Office / Rutherford County
"I worked in two departments for the Sheriff's Office: forensics and animal control," said Abercrombie. "I was even offered a part-time job after the internship. It's been an overall great experience. Through meeting new people and forming new skills, I've built up my confidence and see that I'm in the right field for me."

Shakeria Rooks Scholar - Sha'keira Rooks
GLSLP Program -
College - Winston-Salem State University
Major - Therapeutic Recreation
Home County - Halifax

First Generation College Student - Yes
Internship Sites - (Years 1 & 2) Liberty Commons Health and Rehabilitation / Halifax County
"I wanted an education not only for myself, but also to show my family that 'this isn't it' for them," said Rooks. "I had tried to job shadow or intern before the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program but did not have success. When I said I was with Golden LEAF, they were willing to open doors. I am so grateful for this opportunity."

Tiffany Owens Scholar - Tiffany Owens
GLSLP Program -
College - Western Carolina University
Major - Secondary science education with a concentration in biology
Home County - Clay
First Generation College Student - No
Internship Sites - (Year 1) Clay County Schools / Clay County; (Year 2 & 3) Eastern 4-H Center Summer Camps / Tyrrell County

"I wanted a chance to get away from home and still teach," said Owens about an internship in the east. "This internship opportunity gave me the best of both worlds. I am really considering becoming a part of a 4-H program. I'm learning about the different fields I can use my degree in, and the networking aspect of the leadership program has been fantastic." 

skyler Scholar - Skyler Kennemur
GLSLP Program -
College - East Carolina University
Major - Nursing
Home County - Johnston
First Generation College Student - No
Internship Sites - (Year 1) Access Physical Therapy and Wellness / Johnston County;
(Year 2) Johnston Medical Center - ER / Johnston County; (Year 3) Vidant Medical Center / Pitt County

"My favorite internship was in the ER at Johnston Medical Center," said Kennemur. "I like the fast pace. I was able to do whatever was needed and was actually able to help with the patients. Also, the coaching and leadership training basically taught you to lead yourself, which has helped me in school."


Community-Based Grantsmaking Initiative targets 22 counties for up to
$12 million in grants

Northwest and Sandhills Prosperity Zones invited to participate in year two of regional initiative

In August 2014, Golden LEAF staff visited locations in the Northwest and Sandhills Prosperity Zones to brief stakeholders on the Community-Based Grantsmaking Initiative (CBGI). There are 12 counties in the Northwest and 10 counties in the Sandhills that will vie for approximately $12 million in this second year of CBGI grant funding.

Sandhills CBGI

Stakeholders attending the CBGI briefings were given an overview of the program and then participated in a question and answer period.

The CBGI is a competitive program that focuses on grantsmaking by region. In the first year of the Initiative, the Northeast Prosperity Zone participated. Organizations in 10 of the 22 Northeast counties were awarded $9.6 million in grants to support 14 projects.

The CBGI is a focused process with grants targeted toward investments in the building blocks of economic growth. Grants are limited to projects that address economic development, agriculture, education, workforce development, infrastructure, and health care infrastructure.

County Managers

Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach (left) answers Robeson County Economic Developer Greg Cummings' questions about the CBGI process after a briefing.

Counties invited to participate must submit their project ideas to their county manager for approval. Each county can submit up to three Letters of Inquiry (LOI) totaling up to $1.5 million. The LOIs are then sent to the Golden LEAF Foundation for review. The Golden LEAF Board will invite full proposals from a selection of applicants. The Board will then make decisions on which projects to fund based on a review of the full proposals. Grant funding decisions for this round are planned for June 2015.

The following counties have been invited to participate in the CBGI process for fiscal year 2015:

Northwest Zone: Alleghany, Ashe, Alexander, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, McDowell, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties.

Sandhills Zone: Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, and Scotland Counties.


Henderson County manufacturer creates 89 new jobs
Golden LEAF public road infrastructure grant helped with site preparation

As of second quarter 2014, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has hired 89 new employees at the Mills River location in Henderson County with an average annual wage of $37,773 plus benefits. This economic development project was assisted by a Golden LEAF grant for the design of public road improvements.

During the company's search for a new location, Sierra Nevada considered sites in Tennessee and Virginia.

"The Golden LEAF grant was significant because the other properties that were in competition with the Henderson County location were much more developed properties," said Andrew Tate, President and CEO of Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development. "The property was basically a forest with no water, electricity, or roads. Because of the lack of site preparation, our site was at a severe disadvantage."

In October 2011, the Golden LEAF Board awarded Henderson County Government a $112,600 Economic Catalyst grant to design public road improvements, which serve Sierra Nevada and other area companies. Sierra Nevada committed to create 100 new full time jobs by the end of 2016.

Sierra Nevada - NC

The new Sierra Nevada Brewing Company location is now open in Henderson County. Construction is ongoing on several parts of the facility such as the taproom and restaurant.

Other western NC businesses are benefiting from the new manufacturer.

"This project helped circulate dollars locally through using area contractors and subcontractors on the project," said Tate. "Also, the company uses locally purchased materials when possible."

The facility has a fully equipped lab on site for testing and quality control.

"Sierra Nevada locating to Henderson County has been in many ways a sense of pride for the county," said Tate. "It is a company that is well-known and is a good corporate citizen, committed to supporting its communities. It inspires confidence in the local workforce. We are also fortunate because other companies are watching to see where these big corporations are locating."

The manufacturer is expected to attract 250,000 visitors to the area each year.


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Call Golden LEAF to discuss project ideas at 888.684.8404 (ask for a program officer) or e-mail


Message from the
Dan Gerlach

Dan Gerlach

As the holidays quickly approach, we take time to be grateful for the blessings that we have. This issue of LEAF Lines tells stories of Golden LEAF work with which I am particularly grateful to participate.

I am tempted like many others of my generation and those before to question whether following generations will have the same desire and opportunities to achieve the American dream that we have. But when I meet Golden LEAF Scholars from all over the state, my confidence and hope in their potential is replenished.

Since the very beginnings of Golden LEAF, under the leadership of first Golden LEAF Chair and former UNC system President William Friday, the Foundation has provided financial aid to students from rural areas. In the last five years, we have also funded leadership development and internship opportunities in rural areas for some of these scholars.

As you read about Cady, Justin, Mark, Sha'keira, Tiffany and Skyler, you will get a taste of their varied interests and experiences in health care, education, 4-H, and law enforcement. We work with dozens of others with similar backgrounds and dedication to making a difference. Surely the future of the economic transition of rural North Carolina hinges on young people with knowledge, talent and skill to lead and create businesses, services, and products and to serve in public life. It is very consistent with our mission.

We all know, however, that not enough opportunities exist to attract and keep these young people in rural North Carolina. We are in the midst of our major Community-Based Grantsmaking Initiative in the Northwest and Sandhills Prosperity Zones, with $12 million available for strategies that move the needle in agriculture, health care, infrastructure, education, workforce development, and economic development. The competition will be stiff, but the leverage and results will tell the tale.

You will also read about Golden LEAF support for programs in STEM education in Alleghany County to increase the quality and opportunity for K-12 students there (and perhaps develop future Golden LEAF Scholars).

And you can read about Vidant Duplin Hospital's use of Golden LEAF funds to streamline their emergency room care and improve outpatient care. Access to quality health care is a driver of successful economic development. Of course, we've had some Golden LEAF Scholars intern there as well (looking at you, Erin Precise and Seth Cox)!

Of course, at the end of the day, it's all about jobs. Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River, NC is well ahead of pace to meet commitments for jobs and capital investment, and will soon attract thousands of visitors to the region at their beautiful site along the French Broad river. Golden LEAF assisted with some public road improvements to access the property, and I am also pleased that the Company uses many local vendors and understands the importance of doing so. A toast to that, and to all that you readers do to move North Carolina forward.


Dan Gerlach can be contacted by
e-mail at


Golden LEAF grants to Vidant Duplin Hospital for chronic, emergency care are paying dividends
Hospital adds 15 new employees and increases efficiencies in emergency care

Vidant Duplin Hospital added 15 new health care workers in the past two years, shortened emergency department (ED) stays and reduced visits by patients with chronic illnesses to the ED, with assistance from two Golden LEAF grants.

In February 2012 and 2013, Golden LEAF awarded two grants totaling $589,266 to Vidant Duplin Hospital in Kenansville to renovate the hospital's ED and to start an outpatient health monitoring program.

"The Golden LEAF grants were critical," said Alex Asbun, former Director of Health Care Programs at Vidant Duplin Hospital. "Without Golden LEAF funding, we would not have been able to implement these projects. The grants from Golden LEAF helped leverage other funding. It was really important that Golden LEAF took the lead role."

One Golden LEAF grant provided funding to Vidant Duplin Hospital to renovate and expand its outdated ED facility. The renovations have contributed to increased efficiencies, said Asbun. Total length of stay at the ED was averaging three and a half hours. As of October 1, 2014, the ED had lowered the average length of stay by over an hour.

The renovations provided the ED with a defined entrance, separating it from general hospital traffic. The department gained four state-of-the-art exam rooms to create a fast track for lower risk patients, and mental health rooms specifically to accommodate the increasing number of mental health cases. An electronic patient tracking system now follows each patient from check-in through check-out.

ED Entrance

The new signage and entrance at Vidant Duplin Hospital makes the ED easy to find.

Now patients are met by an admitting attendant and a nurse who assesses the level of emergency as well as the type of need (mental or physical).

This project helped create 12 new health care positions at the hospital: a mid-level provider, four registered nurses, two nursing assistants, a licensed practical nurse, a ED unit secretary, two collectors and a registrar.


The new front desk for the ED helps identify the needs of patients upon check-in.

Golden LEAF also helped fund Vidant Duplin Hospital's telehealth program. The program is helping to improve the health of participating community members and is reducing hospital admissions and unnecessary expenses for both the hospital and patients, according to Asbun. As of September 2014, 96 patients had been enrolled in the program and 70% of the participants had not used the ED to manage their chronic care. The program is free to those chosen to participate.

Vidant Duplin Hospital offers the telehealth program to patients who frequent the ED for chronic illness management. These patients usually have conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, which typically require special health monitoring. The telehealth system can help patients by providing information such as blood pressure, heart rate, weight and blood oxygen levels remotely. Patients are monitored from 30 to 90 days.

Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. Vidant Duplin is using two methods of telehealth: an at-home program and a kiosk program at sites throughout the community.

This project has resulted in the hospital hiring three new employees: a case management registered nurse and two licensed practical nurses.

Telehealth Car

Vidant Duplin telehealth technicians use this car to meet with patients to set up the home-monitoring program.

Through the at-home telehealth program, a telehealth nurse technician comes to the patient's home to set up the monitoring equipment and teaches the patient how to use it.

The patient uses the equipment to send health information to the telehealth team for tracking during the week. Technicians communicate directly with a patient about health care management and liaise with the patient's doctor to relay information related to the overall treatment plan.

The kiosk telehealth program also monitors a patient's health, but instead of monitoring from home, the participant goes to a community location to use a kiosk. The patient receives a programmed response on how to continue to manage their care.

"Access to care is a challenge," said Asbun. "The hospital is trying to do its part to keep a ready-to-work workforce that is healthy. The telehealth program helps patients reduce costs and increase productivity."


Alleghany County Schools students showing success in STEM test scores, course passing rates
Golden LEAF provided $1.5 million to help set up STEM programs

Alleghany County Schools (ACS) student scores in math and science are showing improvement, thanks in part to two Golden LEAF grants totaling $1,524,726. The grants were awarded to implement science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula from kindergarten to college connected to the workplace.

In 2011, Golden LEAF awarded ACS $325,000 through the Golden LEAF STEM Initiative. In 2012, ACS received an additional $1,199,726 through the Foundation's Community Assistance Initiative. The goal of both projects is to provide the marketable skills students need for available jobs.

In the 2013-2014 school year, all students in eighth and tenth grade Math I passed, with 92.4% passing Math I in grade nine. District proficiency scores exceeded the State average in math and science in grades five through eight and for Math I proficiency.

ACS is using a variety of strategies to increase students' STEM skill proficiency.

"In elementary grades, teachers are using science kits as their primary curriculum within their science classes, which gives students a hands-on approach to instruction," said Patti Cox, Alleghany County Schools Director of Student Services.

ACS uses its free afterschool program, available to students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, to provide another hour and thirty minutes of STEM instruction a week. STEM summer camps are also offered through the school system's afterschool programs.

Camp Invention

This elementary student is working on a project during Camp Invention.

The middle school is approaching STEM learning through the Project Lead the Way's Gateway to Technology curriculum. This module uses project-based learning to teach technology skills relevant to employment.

"Students use technology to solve real world problems such as crime scene analysis, building cars and robotics," said Cox. "It helps put concepts into practice."

In the high school, two science labs were renovated to bring science facilities into the 21st century and ramp up excitement for science.

High School Labs

Pictured is one of the newly renovated high school labs and some of the high tech equipment they have to use.

"The labs were renovated with computer hubs built into each station," said Cox. "Students are able to engage in higher-level learning activities with the use of technology. The facilities are modeled like what employees in the field of science might use or those used by students in a college research lab."

Another way ACS is building interest in STEM careers is by having a system-wide approach to technology to improve teaching and learning. Golden LEAF funding helped provide computers for smart classrooms in grades four and five.


All of the classrooms at ACS use some form of technology. This class is using laptops and another digital device that assesses in real time how well students are learning the material.

Another concept the school is working on is called model classrooms. Teachers developed model subject matter lessons using technology in the classroom. The teachers who were awarded the technology commit to supporting the professional development of others through observations by their peers. They also are required to share their ideas by presenting in professional development sessions.

ACS is partnering with Wilkes Community College, East Carolina University (ECU), and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G) to offer advanced placement courses to high school students.

Wilkes Community College is providing opportunities for students to earn college credit and employer certifications. ECU and UNC-G are allowing students to take college-level online math and science courses.

ACS teachers have received many hours of professional development to implement the district's STEM plan. Many of these sessions brought in professionals in STEM education; however, ACS also uses its own teachers and administrators as resources through Professional Learning Communities (PLC). PLCs provide staff with a way to share lesson plans and teaching strategies.

Teacher Training

These ACS teachers and administrators are taking part in professional development to help with STEM implementation in the classroom.

Questions about Golden LEAF?
Please contact Mark Sorrells at

Comments or feedback about our newsletter?
Please contact Jenny Tinklepaugh at

© 2014 Golden LEAF Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved


The Golden LEAF Foundation   301 N. Winstead Avenue   Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone 252-442-7474   Toll-free 888-684-8404   Fax 252-442-7404   Email

© 2014 Golden LEAF Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved