Taking Ownership

Education changes people’s lives.  It is the one great equalizer in life.

Today, we are faced with a growing tech skills shortage and lack of diversity in the workforce while other states are moving forward. CS4NC (Computer Science for North Carolina) will transform education and lives throughout North Carolina.  Students in all 100 counties will benefit from Cherokee to Dare. We must provide our students with the necessary skills to compete in a tech enabled economy. To accomplish this initiative, we are building a collaborative team that includes individuals, businesses, government, and local communities to tackle this from a different direction, allowing everyone to take ownership of our students’ success.

North Carolina has always taken on aspirational ideas and made these bold initiatives a reality.  You only have to look at the State University system, Research Triangle Park, or the Community College system to recognize the bold history of leadership in our State.  I believe that CS4NC will prove to be just as transformational.

I strongly believe in the life-changing ability of education and have a unique perspective regarding the value in learning computer science, having spent 40+ years with a career in IT, as well as currently serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at both Wake Tech Community College and the North Carolina School of Math and Science (NCSSM).

While Vice President and GM of Lenovo NA, I saw first-hand the challenges hiring women and underrepresented minorities in technical roles. Through the CS4NC effort we can, and will, take a leadership role to inspire every student in computer science across the State.

Take a closer look at Wake Tech – this may help you see what’s possible. Before opening our sixth campus in RTP we aggressively engaged our tech employers. This led to our employers  taking ownership of student success by providing internships/work-based learning, curriculum, technology, and scholarships. We learned that business engagement ensures our students have the skills required to secure a great job and be successful. This collaborative effort was recognized by the Wall Street Journal.

Now look closely at the North Carolina School of Science and Math. The Summer Accelerator program was started with a solid business plan developed with employers to inspire students in STEM across our state. Today, this summer program serves over 1000 students from 74 counties and is self-funded.  These programs are held at Brevard College, NCSSM Durham, and Barton College with plans to expand to our new campus in Morganton and a location in eastern NC.

NCSSM graduates have started companies that include  Pendo, Tablo, Bronto, Sift, Appia, Sage Works, Motricity and Precision Lender to name a few.  Just think what this list would look like if we inspired students is computer science in every school system in our state.

With your help, we will change people’s lives across our State on an enormous scale.

Please feel free to reach out to me personally to learn more and become part of this transformational effort.

Tom Looney