Business leaders call for Grad. Project volunteers

by North Carolina Business Committee for Education Officers Mary Linda Andrews, Chair, Albert Eckel, Vice Chair and Dale Whitworth, Treasurer

Every year, North Carolina companies donate millions of dollars to support education in our state.

Funding is important, but as business leaders we need to do more than open our wallets if we are going to help prepare students for careers in the global economy. We also should be generous with our time, knowledge and experience. These gifts may seem small, but their ability to shape a student’s future is priceless. That is why professionals from every industry should get involved with The North Carolina Graduation Project.

Beginning with the 2006-2007 academic year, students in our state are required to complete the Graduation Project as an exit standard for high school. This comprehensive project allows high schoolers to use research, writing and presentation skills to explore a topic of their choice. Students work to complete the assignment over the course of their high school career and are required to seek guidance from mentors who help them connect academics to the real world of work and service. In the final stage, students present their finished product to a panel of individuals from the school and community.

Because students choose their own topics, they need mentors from all career fields and industries. Graduation Project volunteers can range from corporate CEOs and fashion designers to scientists and church choir directors. Students may communicate with their mentors face-to-face, by phone or email, through written correspondence, or with a combination of these methods so partnerships are not limited by geographic boundaries. And if you cannot mentor, you can serve on a presentation committee or arrange a job shadowing opportunity to help students explore potential Graduation Project topics. No matter how we volunteer, our efforts will inspire students and help prepare them for the future.

Members of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education recently identified math concepts, teamwork, technology and communication, ethics, and reading and comprehension as the most crucial skill sets students need after high school graduation. In addition to identifying these important skills, business leaders should also take part in the process to equip students with the knowledge and talent our companies and corporations depend on for success. Every minute we spend mentoring or advising students on their Graduation Projects is an investment in their future as well as the future of North Carolina’s workforce and our economy.

To find out how you can host a job shadowing day, be a project mentor or serve on an advisory committee, you should:

  • Contact the principals of local high schools in your area;
  • Contact Sara Clark in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to get your name and contact information on a list of potential Graduation Project volunteers that will soon be available to students and teachers across the state; and
  • Visit here to find out more about project requirements and other ways to get involved in this important initiative.