It all started when Kara Brown from Lincoln Economic Development Association (LEDA) contacted Edge Factor with the question, “Can you help us impact our community?” LEDA was looking for an out-of-the-box way to inspire students and parents to discover and pursue career and technical education, advanced manufacturing and mechatronics in Lincoln County, North Carolina. In the discussions that followed, LEDA and Edge Factor jointly developed a strategy to reach students, parents, teachers and leaders across the community.
Together, we identified 4 key challenges in Lincoln County:
1) Challenge 1: Inspire Students
Students were unaware of career opportunities and had an antiquated view of manufacturing. With 1800+ grade 8 and high school students in the audience, Edge Factor and LEDA hosted an exciting event for students to discover advanced manufacturing careers and explore local CTE programs.
2) Challenge 2: Reach Parents
When most parents hear “manufacturing” they think of jobs that are dark, dirty, dangerous and overseas – not a worthy career choice for their children. The Spark Session for Families event hosted by LEDA and Edge Factor, focused on changing perceptions of manufacturing and showcasing modern careers and CTE advanced manufacturing programs. As a bonus for the 225+ attendees, LEDA provided free pizza and over $2000 in prizes at the event.
But one of the biggest challenges we faced was how to get the parents to attend! To raise awareness of the Family Event, a local marketing campaign was developed that involved a school-wide Donut Giveaway Competition between Lincoln County Schools. To vote for a school to win, voters had to complete an online quiz about manufacturing careers. With 3998 total votes cast, West Lincoln High School won with 1168 votes! The day after the Family event, Jeremy Bout, Producer and Host of Edge Factor and LEDA distributed the donuts to the winning school.
3) Challenge 3: Cultivate Partnerships State-wide
Partnerships needed to be cultivated between industry and educational leaders to impact students and parents across North Carolina. LEDA and Edge Factor hosted a Leadership Roundtable Meeting to connect leaders from across the state to share the success of the solutions to Challenge 1 and 2 and use them as examples for communities to replicate.
4) Challenge 4: Create a Sustainable Impact
The inspiration people experience from attending events fades over time. To create a sustainable, lasting impact in schools for students and parents to pursue CTE programs and advanced manufacturing careers, LEDA, through a grant provided by a local manufacturing leader, supported every Lincoln County middle and high school with a membership to access Edge Factor media and resources (available via www.edufactor.org). Edge Factor hosted a Teacher Training day to implement and train local educators to use the eduFACTOR platform in their schools.
One thing is clear: LEDA and Edge Factor made a big splash in Lincoln County last week and the inspiration will continue in schools with eduFACTOR.
So, how will you impact YOUR community?