Callie Stroud wants to be a welder.

The Davie County High School senior will pursue that dream this fall at Davidson County Community College (DCCC) — without incurring student debt, thanks to IGNITE DAVIE.

IGNITE DAVIE is a college promise program that will pay tuition and required fees for students to attend DCCC full time. This also includes a stipend for books. They can pursue a certificate, diploma, or degree program at either campus. IGNITE DAVIE is a place-based, last-dollar scholarship which means students must live in and attend school in Davie County to take advantage of the program.

“Right now it doesn’t even seem real,” Stroud said about her acceptance to DCCC and the opportunity to get her diploma in welding technology without incurring any debt. “I can’t wait to start taking my classes, and I am extremely excited to see where I can go with this. Welding is an everyday need and I know I will be able to get a job anywhere.”

“This program (IGNITE DAVIE) will help a lot of students who wouldn’t have been able to pursue their dreams. I hope that they are as grateful as I am and take advantage of this opportunity.”

“IGNITE DAVIE can remove a financial hurdle and stigma for some families,” said DCS Superintendent Jeff Wallace. “Over time, with the support of IGNITE DAVIE, all students in Davie County can expect an opportunity to attend college. The opportunity will fuel expectations, and Davie County will build an educated workforce to support local industries, and be attractive to families and businesses.”

Today more than 65 percent of jobs require some postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Unfortunately,  the price of college increased by nearly 400 percent in the last 30 years, while median household income growth was relatively flat, leaving higher education unaffordable for many American families.  As a result, student debt has soared to more than $1.5 trillion.

It’s clear that Davie County students need more education and training to compete in the modern workforce, however, only one-third of our high school graduates continue their schooling and earn an associate’s degree or higher. IGNITE DAVIE provides a path for students to continue their education after high school to gain the necessary skills and training to be competitive in the labor market. This is critically important because today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and we need them to be ready.

The Class of 2020 will be the inaugural class of IGNITE DAVIE and the staff at DCHS and DCCC are working hard to ensure students and parents know about this program.  They meet with students individually and help them complete the necessary steps to take advantage of IGNITE DAVIE.

Their efforts are paying off. There are 396 students in the senior class and 113 of those have already completed the IGNITE DAVIE application which isn’t due until June 1st.

“We are seeing a huge increase in the number of students choosing to go to college,” said DCHS Counselor Erin Brown. “While we have seen some kids who would have gone to a four-year school choose to start at the community college, we’ve seen more students who would not have chosen to attend college, now choose to go to college. These are kids who thought they had no options for continuing their education, which is fantastic.”

“As we’ve visited each grade level this year, we’ve watched students perk up and ask a lot of questions when we’ve talked about IGNITE DAVE, particularly those who didn’t think they would be able to go to college, even the freshmen. We make sure they understand that this isn’t just for four-year-degree bound kids, this program is for any student who wants to continue any type of education or pursue a trade. There are many trade-related jobs in this area that pay well and also have a lot of people retiring. These are companies right here in Davie County, that would provide students with a great lifelong career with just a little bit of training at the community college.”

To educate students about local opportunities, IGNITE DAVIE includes a Career Connections component. Once enrolled at DCCC, students will be exposed to local business & industry that offer jobs that align with their career path through tours, job shadowing, internships, job/career fairs, and other work-based learning experiences.  It also provides local employers an opportunity to cultivate an interest in their company before students transition into the workforce. 

“IGNITE DAVIE is more than an educational initiative, it is a workforce initiative as well.  By making this investment in our students we are also making a significant investment in our community.  That investment will have a profound impact on the future of our students and Davie County’s economic vitality especially when we see these students complete their education, join the workforce and begin contributing to our local economy,” said Carolyn McManamy, director of Davie Connect.

“IGNITE DAVIE is an extraordinary promise and it is becoming an integral part of Davie County,” said McManamy. “To date, we have raised $1.5 million so our top priority is meeting our $3 million fundraising goal.  Our message to our community is this: We need you to make IGNITE DAVIE a success for future generations.  Today it is benefiting our high school students but we need to be looking ahead to ensure it will benefit today’s elementary students too. So consider yourself asked and know that every contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated!  GIVING together, we will IGNITE our future!” said McManamy.

Please join us and others with a vision for a vibrant Davie County by making a gift that will truly spark our community.”  Go to IGNITEDAVIE.com to make a donation or to learn more about the IGNITE DAVIE program that begins this fall. Specific questions may be directed to Carolyn McManamy: cmcmanamy@daviecounty.com or (336) 753-6670.