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MDC has long focused on education as a critical part of its mission to create equity and pathways to opportunity. Emphasizing the importance of educational attainment to personal, community, and regional economic security—and identifying the barriers that make it a more difficult goal for some students than others—has been a key part of MDC’s research and practice. That has led MDC to focus much of its work in community colleges, which are often the most accessible and best equipped institutions to connect students with educational opportunity, job training, and local employers.

MDC uses the following strategies to help people succeed in school and in finding careers:

  • building institutional capacity to better serve disadvantaged students and their communities
  • removing the structural and economic barriers that make it difficult for students to stay in school
  • reforming public policies and systems to improve the quality and accessibility of higher education
  • connecting educational institutions, business leaders, government agencies, and community members to identify and address achievement gaps
  • promoting the critical link between postsecondary education and economic well-being for people and communities
Durham, N.C., is thriving. It has a strong employer base, it’s not short of good jobs, and its employment growth rate is projected to outstrip state and U.S. averages by 2021. Yet too few of Durham’s young people are getting these good jobs, and too few have the academic and workplace skills to compete with more qualified candidates from other cities and states. Roughly half of Durham's youth and young adults will complete high school, achieve a postsecondary credential of some kind, and gain employment by the time they are 25.
The Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education has asked MDC to collaboratively develop a vision and an agenda to propel the Alabama Community College System forward. In doing so, MDC is applying its knowledge and experience in the community college field to the opportunities and challenges faced in Alabama.
In partnership with the John M. Belk Endowment for Education, MDC has researched and written the report, “North Carolina’s Economic Imperative: Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity,” part of our work with the endowment to study, address, and propose solutions for the low mobility rate of too many North Carolinians.
MDC is partnering with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust as the activating agency for the Great Expectations initiative. The Trust plans to invest between $30-40 million over 10-15 years to support the development of a strong foundation for the children of Forsyth County, N.C. to succeed in school and life by the time they complete kindergarten, regardless of their family's income.