Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. is one of nine organizations selected by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) to receive funding to increase the number of learners from traditionally marginalized populations who earn an industry-relevant credential or degree.

The Equitable Credential Attainment program brings together chambers of commerce, community colleges, and community organizations to collaborate on the initiative in each region. Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. will work with Forsyth Technical Community College and Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina to identify the barriers to credential attainment and create solutions to address those challenges. 

The program will focus on credential attainment for Nursing Assistants and Medical Assistants, for which the County is projected to have 3,600+ job openings in the next five years.

“Healthcare is our leading industry in Forsyth County and continues to grow,” says Mark Owens, President and CEO of Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. “New opportunities are being created in this field and there must be equitable access into these careers. This program will help to eliminate barriers to access that more heavily impact traditionally marginalized populations, while also increasing the available workforce needed to sustain the industry’s growth in our region.” 

Partnerships between chambers of commerce and community colleges have the potential to significantly increase the number of adult learners that can access high-quality, relevant short-term credentials and degrees. 

“Forsyth Tech maintains strong partnerships with Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. and Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina based on our unified mission to strengthen community initiatives that enhance educational opportunities and workforce success. We are excited to collaborate on this program as we seek ways to create equitable economic mobility,” says Dr. Janet Spriggs, President of Forsyth Tech. 

“Growth in credential and degree attainment is a priority in Forsyth County to close equity gaps and increase the skill level of the workforce to meet in-demand jobs,” says Barbara Maida-Stolle, President and CEO at Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. “Our shared strategy is to use education initiatives and community partnerships to increase economic equity and mobility for all Forsyth County residents. Being selected for this competitive program is a testament to the effectiveness of our strategy.”

The ACCE Foundation and American Association of Community Colleges identified a virtual cohort of teams from nine cities or regions, supporting the programs with funding from the Lumina Foundation. 

The teams will have access to national subject matter experts, receive customized technical assistance, and engage in peer-to-peer learning activities to create a strategy for long-term collaboration after the grant period ends.

“We are grateful for Lumina Foundation’s continued support for the catalytic leadership chambers of commerce provide in the communities they serve,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Strong cross-sector partnerships are crucial to addressing workforce challenges, building resilient local economies and creating opportunities for everyone to thrive.

The other communities participating in the program include:

  • Augusta, Georgia
  • Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Moore County, North Carolina
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Odessa, Texas
  • Sumter County, Georgia
  • York County, Pennsylvania