LEAF Lines - Winter 2013 Edition


Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative wraps up this spring
Project connects 69 NC rural counties
with high-speed broadband internet

The Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) is nearing completion with 96% of the project finished. By Spring 2013, public anchor institutions in 69 counties in the rural Northeastern, North Central, Western and South Central parts of North Carolina will be connected to high speed internet.

Telecommunications Hut

Part of the broadband build included telecommunication huts similar to the one pictured above.

The $144 million expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), managed by MCNC, was funded in part by a $24 million matching grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. Institutions receiving fiber through the project include public school systems, community college and university campuses, libraries, and university hospitals.

These connections will provide rural areas with high-speed broadband service for the first time ever and/or increased service and capabilities.

Two of the major beneficiaries of the GLRBI are the North Carolina Community College System and the public school system. As a whole, community colleges in North Carolina have seen 34 percent bandwidth growth over the last year, and seven campus locations have doubled their Internet speeds. Some of the increased services include high-definition video-conferencing software, which allows for research collaboration, seminars, online workshops, and other applications easily facilitated by video.

Thanks to the GLRBI project, all 58 community colleges in the state now have at least 100 Mbps connections. All K-12 school districts in North Carolina have at least 100 Mbps connections on NCREN, and 48 of the state's 115 districts have upgraded above 100 Mbps since the original connection made in 2008.

Since the GLRBI project began in 2010, the video services infrastructure on the NCREN network has been upgraded; East Carolina University has received a 10gig network upgrade and now serves as a hub for most of eastern North Carolina; the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville now has a 10gig connection, and Vidant Medical Center in Pitt County became the first not-for-profit hospital connected to the North Carolina Telehealth Network via NCREN.

This project, which provides middle-mile infrastructure to public institutions, will also provide a cost-effective way for last-mile connections to occur to homes and businesses. Many private-sector wholesalers and last-mile service providers have expressed interest to MCNC in leasing GLRBI fiber. As a result, every region of the new fiber build will likely have private-sector partners who will increase broadband service options for citizens and businesses in these areas.

Visit https://www.mcnc.org/btop for more information about the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative.


Applications for Golden LEAF Scholarship due March 1, 2013
Scholarships to help 215 rural NC high school seniors, community college transfer students attend college

Golden LEAF Scholarship information and applications for 2013-14 are now available at CFNC.org/goldenleaf. A total of 215 awards will be offered to first-time recipients for the 2013-14 academic year. Applications are due March 1, 2013.

The awards are valued at $12,000 ($3,000 per year for up to four years) for high school students attending a participating North Carolina campus. Community college transfer students who are awarded a scholarship can receive $3,000 for up to three years.

To be considered, an applicant must:

  • be enrolled during the 2012-13 academic year at a North Carolina public or private high school or a North Carolina community college,
  • enroll for fall 2013 as a full-time, degree-seeking freshman or transfer from a North Carolina community college at one of the 57 participating public universities or private colleges and universities in North Carolina,
  • be a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes with a permanent residence in one of 78 qualifying rural counties, and
  • demonstrate financial need.

Candidates must submit:

  • a Golden LEAF Scholarship application, available at CFNC.org/goldenleaf,
  • a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), available at www.fafsa.gov, and
  • a current high school or community college transcript no later than March 1.

The scholarship program is funded through a Golden LEAF grant and is administered by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. A complete list of program requirements, participating campuses and qualifying counties can be viewed at CFNC.org/goldenleaf. Contact College Foundation of North Carolina toll-free at 866-866-CFNC, for more information.

Students awarded scholarships also qualify to apply for the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program. This program provides students with leadership-building seminars, a summer internship and a stipend.

Leadership Program

Ted Lord (far right), Golden LEAF Vice President of Programs and Staff Attorney, is talking with Golden LEAF Scholars interested in careers in law at a jobs roundtable discussion at the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program conference held at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro.

Community College Scholarships
The Golden LEAF Scholars Program for two year colleges is designed to help North Carolinians attend the state’s community colleges and is funded through a $750,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

These scholarships are available for both curriculum and occupational students during the fall, spring and summer semesters. Curriculum students are eligible for up to $750 per semester, including summer term. Occupational students can receive up to $250 per term. Eligible students must demonstrate financial need and reside in a rural county that is tobacco-dependent and/or economically distressed.

Students interested in applying for a Golden LEAF Scholarship to attend North Carolina's community colleges should contact their participating community college's financial aid office at the beginning of each semester. Visit http://www.goldenleaf.org/scholarships.html or CFNC.org/goldenleaf to find a list of participating community colleges and eligible counties.


Golden LEAF launches new reporting process
Foundation working with grant recipients on better grants monitoring procedures

The Golden LEAF Foundation is working to implement a better system to help grantees to report their project activities, outcomes, and grant expenditures. As part of the revamped process, the Foundation is creating a new Post-Award Grants Monitoring Policy that includes revised reporting forms, mandatory face-to-face grants management workshops, and increased site visits.

"As good stewards of the money entrusted to the Golden LEAF Foundation, we recently revamped our grants monitoring to provide reporting consistency across our programs," said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President. "The new process will help us monitor our grants more efficiently and effectively without creating undue burden on our grantees."

The forms include a new expenditures reporting form, project management plan (PMP), and progress report form. All of the new forms along with instructions outlining how to complete them are available through this link to our website: http://goldenleaf.org/forms.html.

Unless approved by Golden LEAF staff, all current grantees should be using the new forms for all project reporting and modification requests. If you have any questions or need more information, contact programs staff at 888-684-8404 or email programs@goldenleaf.org.


Golden LEAF Scholar honored on TV for leadership, service to others
Scholar serves community through
Red Cross, Communities in Schools

Taylor Waters, a Golden LEAF Scholar and sophomore at East Carolina University, recently was honored at the TeenNick's 2012 Helping And Leading Others (HALO) award ceremony for her service and leadership through the American Red Cross. Since 2010, she has been active in her hometown Red Cross Chapter in Sanford, N.C., and recently started a Red Cross club at ECU. The award she received is part of an annual ceremony put on by Nickelodeon to honor everyday teens providing leadership and service to others.

Taylor at Halo Awards

Family and friends joined Waters at the 2012 HALO awards ceremony. Pictured are (from left) Abby Cameron with the Red Cross; Kathy Waters, grandmother; Robyn Waters, mother; Michael Waters, brother; Taylor Waters; Mike Waters, father; Donna Palme, aunt; and Danielle Spivey, cousin.

In October 2012, Waters was surprised with the 2012 HALO Award, the same day that her Red Cross club at ECU became official.

Her interest in the Red Cross began in January 2010, when her grandmother lost her house in a fire. The Red Cross supported her grandmother through the tragedy and gave her hope.

“They were her rock, her emotional support,” said Waters. “While we were all still in shock, the volunteers provided her with her own things, like her own toothbrush and toothpaste. I remember how important it was for my grandmother to have those things. I wanted to be that for someone else.”

In February of 2010, at only 16 years old, Waters took that tragedy and decided to volunteer her talents and skills. She took part in the American Red Cross Queen of Hearts fundraiser and raised over $7,000. Over the next year, she was a youth ambassador and coordinated other young people to help raise $30,000 for disaster services. Waters is currently one of only 13 students serving on the National Youth Council for the Red Cross.

Waters said her calling is to get youth involved in service activity.

“They have the energy and they want to make a difference,” said Waters. “They just don’t know they can.”

The Lee County High School graduate, studying elementary and middle grades education at ECU, wants to follow in her grandmother's footsteps. Her grandmother was a graduate of ECU and has been a teacher, principal and leader in her community.

Her leadership goals are being fostered through her involvement in the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program. The program is open to a selection of Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients and provides leadership building seminars and a paid summer internship related to the student’s chosen career path.

“Being in the Golden LEAF Scholarship and Leadership programs has helped beyond leadership opportunities with Golden LEAF,” said Waters. “The Golden LEAF programs have helped me get things started, like the (Red Cross) club. It is really helpful to have those tools in your back pocket.”

Through the program, she has been able to help young folks get involved in her home community.

Halo Award

Taylor Waters speaks at the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program conference in Greensboro.

For her summer internship, she worked for Communities In Schools (CIS) of Lee County. CIS connects resources with schools to help young people learn, stay in school, and prepare for life. Waters' duties included providing support for the programs through administrative, public relations, and program coordination activities.

"Taylor was a tremendous asset to our organization this past summer, and we are looking forward to having her back," said Heather Little, Executive Director of CIS of Lee County. "Through Taylor's hard work and dedication, we collected thousands of school supplies to distribute and start students off to a successful school year. We are so proud of Taylor's accomplishments. We are thrilled to have her back this summer and to always be a part of our Communities In Schools family." 

Waters was instrumental in the Build a BackPack project with Wal-Mart to collect school supplies for the students of Lee County, coordinated the ribbon cutting with the local Chamber of Commerce to involve the business community and weekend drive during tax free weekend, and is already in the midst of planning a collaborative summer program between CIS and Lee County Schools.


Taylor Waters (left) helped put together a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting during her summer 2012 internship with Communities in Schools of Lee County.

After graduating high school, Waters was not initially interested in returning home.

“I wanted to run,” said Waters. “But coming home and working with Communities In Schools really gave me the chance to see the worth and good things that come out of living in rural North Carolina.”


Golden LEAF News Links

Golden LEAF News - December 2012

Golden LEAF News - November 2012

Golden LEAF News - October 2012

Golden LEAF News - September 2012

LEAF Lines - Spring Edition 2012

LEAF Lines - Fall Edition 2011


Grant Programs

Open Grants Program

Economic Catalyst

Open Door Policy:
Call Golden LEAF to discuss project ideas at 888.684.8404 (ask for a program officer) or e-mail programs@goldenleaf.org.

Questions about Golden LEAF?
Please contact Mark Sorrells at msorrells@goldenleaf.org.

Comments or feedback about our newsletter?
Please contact Jenny Tinklepaugh at jtinklepaugh@goldenleaf.org.

© 2013 Golden LEAF Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved


Message from the
Dan Gerlach
I recently had the opportunity to listen to Governor Pat McCrory discuss his analysis of the issues and describe his priorities for North Carolina at a packed house of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. The Governor talked about the need to generate job growth, to work to ensure that education and business communicate more effectively, and that school technology was a key to reform across North Carolina.

This edition of LEAF Lines shows some ways that the Foundation addresses these goals. The growth in school technology demands in a global and interconnected world requires access to high-speed connections at a predictable cost. The Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative, described at left, will help address the need as it nears completion. School districts across North Carolina are implementing new, project-based learning strategies with support from our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Initiative. This initiative supports projects in schools that had the best evidence of cooperation and communication with local businesses to meet workforce needs, exactly the type of communication the Governor preached. Read also about our scholarship program and a grant in agribusiness education in Tyrrell County.

We realize, too, that the Foundation’s public trust requires us to be the best stewards of the Master Settlement Agreement funds that we can be. You can read in this issue how Golden LEAF is implementing a new grants reporting process to improve accountability and standardize procedures to ensure continued excellent oversight. Our investments outperform our benchmarks with far less risk than other investors take on, and our administrative costs remain very low.

A new General Assembly has arrived in town and is now vigorously tackling large issues. The state budget looks in better shape than two years ago, and that should help avoid the perceived need to divert funds intended for the Foundation as was the case in the last session. Please thank your legislators and Governor McCrory for their support of an independent foundation to make grants in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and rural communities that facilitate job creation, smart and targeted workforce development, a diverse and prosperous agriculture sector, and the development of our youth.

The jobs of our federal, state and local leaders remain challenging, and I appreciate their leadership and service to our state and nation.


Dan Gerlach can be contacted by
e-mail at dgerlach@goldenleaf.org.


Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative grant helps train future agribusiness workers in Tyrrell County

In 2011, Tyrrell County Schools received a $465,000 Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative grant to support a new Agriculture Mechanics and Horticulture (AMH) program at Columbia High/Early College High School. The program will support local agriculture enterprises by helping to create a highly skilled workforce. It has already created an environment that has students excited about learning.

Columbia HS

Pictured are sophomore ShellyAnn Armstrong (on the tractor), and (from left) junior Chase Borst Columbia FFA Chapter President, junior Cameron Elliot Columbia FFA Chapter Vice President and Northeast FFA Region Sentinel, senior Waylone Spencer past FFA Treasurer, and Eric Godwin Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor.

"This program is helping the students of Tyrrell County tremendously," said Eric Godwin, Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor. "I had a student that graduated last year at our chapter banquet tell a group of 100 plus people how he did not like school until agricultural education and FFA was offered here."

About 20% of all students at the high school are enrolled in one of the AMH classes, while 1/3 of all middle school students, including all 8th graders, are taking these courses.

Agriculture is changing rapidly with the infusion of technology. To keep pace, agriculture companies need workers trained in the latest technological advances. This program equips students with skills in research, marketing, welding, mechanics, horticulture, landscape design, sod/ turf grass cultivation, and small engine repair.

Soil Container

Tyrrell students are shown welding a metal soil container for their greenhouse.

"This year my small engines classes have been disassembling some engines that were purchased with the Golden LEAF grant and at the end of the year they will be reassembling them," said Godwin. "We also constructed a shade house for outdoor plants this year."

Thanks to the new program and instructor, the school was able to start new Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapters. Four of the six state FFA officers came to and presented at the chartering ceremony.

"If we're not working after school, we are getting together for FFA activities" said Chase Borst, a junior and President of the school's FFA Chapter. "We're always building and learning through hands-on activities."

"Students are now competing in multiple career development events through FFA, which are contests to take what the students have learned in the classroom and apply it," said Godwin.

Last year his students placed 2nd in the region in Floriculture, 2nd in the region in Prepared Public Speaking, and 2nd in the region in Middle Grades Exploring Biotechnology.

These students have also participated in many leadership conferences and even attended a National FFA Convention held in October in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Sophomore ShellyAnn Armstrong went to the national convention, where she met people from all over the country with similar interests. She wants to pursue the medical field or work with animals.

"The hands-on projects make learning fun." said Armstrong.

The classes in the AMH program not only teach new technical skills, but also help students in other core classes.

"My math and science teachers try to relate their courses to agriculture" said Borst. "They know we're interested in it and so they explain it in terms we get."

"Some of the objectives in my curriculum are similar to some of the material that is taught in the math, science, and majority of the other classes," said Godwin. "A lot of the plant science and biotechnology material offered in my Agriscience Applications correlates to material that is taught in our Biology department such as parts of the plant cell and DNA. In agriculture mechanics there is a lot of math, such as carpentry figuring out board feet and especially the importance of measurement."


Golden LEAF Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Initiative provides summer study
Students see new career opportunities, obtain skills

Middle school students across the state are developing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and experiences through project-based learning activities that allow students to learn content through real-world applications, thanks in part to Golden LEAF STEM Initiative grants. Golden LEAF awarded 16 grants totaling over $5.8 million in fiscal year 2011 to help address some of the urgent workforce requirements North Carolina faces in transitioning to a 21st Century economy. The program also helps with educational challenges in preparing all students to be college and career ready upon graduation.

The organizations receiving grants are using the funds to support proven instructional practices and curricular programs to generate interest in STEM content and help students acquire skills that align with the growing number of jobs that require mastery of STEM skills for employment. In addition to STEM training, the initiative also includes a third-party evaluation to identify best practices in STEM education and assist school leaders with impact evaluation and data collection for program improvement.

Last summer, several school districts offered summer and after school enrichment programs designed to attract and grow student interest in STEM learning. A summary of programs provided for student participation is included below.

Asheboro Middle Schools
Participants for the summer STEM enrichment program at North and South Asheboro Middle School were chosen by the fifth grade teachers from each of the five elementary schools within the district. Rising sixth graders visited the N.C. Zoo to learn about the various ecosystems represented by animal habitats, including gaining an understanding of how the systems function and how they are similar and different.


Asheboro 6th grade students are learning how to use a microscope at Randolph Community College.

Participants in the enrichment program visited Randolph Community College where the students learned to use microscopes to complete a scientific investigation. The sixth graders also visited Sci-Works in Winston-Salem where they were able to experience many different science concepts and applications that were linked to career opportunities in STEM.


This Asheboro middle school student is learning about DNA at North Carolina Central University.

Seventh graders from Asheboro City Schools visited the N.C. Zoo to explore the effects of climate change on ecosystems and how these changes can produce long-term impact on humans and animals. They also went to the campus of North Carolina Central University, where they participated in an investigation of DNA, and then toured Randolph Community College, where they learned about protozoan.

Davidson County Schools
Middle grade students from Davidson County Schools participated in a STEM Camp at Davidson County Community College this past summer. Rising fourth-to-eighth-graders worked in four-person teams to complete an engineering challenge. Projects included designing and building and testing a bridge and robots. They also learned basic computer programming skills. Students were able to develop problem-solving, critical-thinking, teamwork and communication skills through the camp's activities.

Ashe County Middle School
In June 2012, Ashe County Middle School held its first Project Lead the Way (PLTW): The Adventure Begins Summer Enrichment Camp. Twenty-two rising 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students were chosen to attend the week-long camp, which was designed to increase enthusiasm through exposure to STEM disciplines and careers through the PLTW program and identify students with an interest and aptitude in STEM. The curriculum focused on design and modeling, energy and environment, and flight and space. All three disciplines encourage higher order thinking through application of math and science knowledge and skills. Industry and local partners who participated in the camp include Global Supply Corporation and Wilkes Community College.

Perquimans County Schools

Boys at STEM

Students from Perquimans County are shown working on a design project at STEM Camp.

A group of middle and upper elementary school students participated in Perquimans County Schools' STEM Camp this past summer. Students completed a number of water quality testing activities and went crabbing at Hertford’s Missing Mill Park. During the camp, students learned about aquatic food webs and dissecting fish to learn about their digestion systems. The students studied the Bernoulli Principle, rocket building, airplane structures and the forces of flight. They also traveled to Elizabeth City State University where they met and worked in the aviation and science labs with the faculty of the aviation science and biology departments. Partners in the camp included Port Discover and Elizabeth City State University.