Wake Tech Foundation

Wake Tech Showcases Community Partnerships

College Hosts Second Annual “Ignite” Celebration

RALEIGH, N.C. (March 6, 2019) - Wake Tech showcased how collaboration between the college and community partners can change lives during a celebration today in downtown Raleigh. Three-hundred-fifty local leaders and influencers gathered for the second annual “Wake Tech Ignite” at the Marriott City Center. 

The theme of the event, hosted by the Wake Tech Foundation, was “changing stories” – the idea that through collaborative partnerships, Wake Tech makes it possible for anyone who wants to change their story to gain access to education and career opportunities. It featured students and the community partners who helped them on the path to success:

  • Michael Bell, a Wake Tech student with autism spectrum disorder, explained how LiNC-IT (Linking Inclusion to Information Technology) helped him go from being a dishwasher to an intern at UNC Healthcare: “LiNC-IT offered therapy, group sessions, support and most importantly, access to jobs,” he said.  LiNC-IT is a pilot program of NCBCE (NC Business Committee for Education). “We look for innovative ways to help businesses find new sources of talent,” said Caroline Sullivan, Executive Director of NCBCE. Wake Tech is the first partner community college and the program is designed to be a model for a state initiative to develop the pipeline for a neurodiverse workforce. Wake Tech serves more students on the spectrum than any other college in the state.
  • Linda Kim, a registered nurse, shared how LaunchWakeCounty helped her turn around a struggling healthcare business. The program, which started in southeast Raleigh and has grown to seven towns across the county, provides support and training for under-resourced entrepreneurs and small businesses. Kim graduated from LaunchApex in 2018. “The program was a game changer for me,” she said. “I was able to talk through real life scenarios, brainstorm with a supportive peer group, gather feedback from my mentor, and learn best practices in business.” Wake Tech is a founding partner and Shaw University was the first “site partner” for the inaugural class from southeast Raleigh. “We saw a need for entrepreneurial training,” said Dr. Paulette Dillard, President of Shaw University. “We knew we had a responsibility to step up!” Since the program started two years ago, it has supported 160 entrepreneurs in Wake County.
  • Journey Ayers, a Wake Tech student, highlighted Passage Home, an organization that works to connect those in need with emotional and financial resources, as well as training and employment opportunities. Ayers turned to Passage Home for help when she was unemployed and struggling to pay bills. The support she received allowed her to earn six Wake Tech certifications in three months! “Passage Home and Wake Tech each played a part in picking me up, dusting me off, and speaking life back into me,” she said. Ayers is now a chef and plans to launch her own catering company. Wake Tech provides training programs such as “Culinary Boot Camp” to help the homeless gain the skills they need to find employment. The first pilot culinary training class ended with an 80% employment rate. “Partnering with Wake Tech helps us complete our mission to end the cycle of poverty,” said Seth Friedman, CEO of Passage Home. “By working together, we’re able to increase our impact and provide life changing solutions.”
  • Eddie Mutebi, a student from Uganda, explained how a partnership between Wake Tech and the nonprofit Embrace Uganda transformed his life. The group, based in Raleigh, provides support for Ugandan orphans. It partners with other nonprofits to provide medicine, clean drinking water, and education. Mutebi, whose parents died of HIV/AIDS, contacted the group when his sponsor didn’t pay his university tuition. Embrace Uganda helped him enroll at Wake Tech – and he is thriving. Mutebi is a Wake Tech student ambassador and has received several scholarships – which makes him very proud. “The money Embrace Uganda would have spent for my tuition is being used to help other students in my home country! This is so important to me.” Wake Tech provides educational opportunities for international students and Wake County’s immigrant and refugee population. Embrace Uganda, Wake Tech, and the local community came together to help Mutebi pursue his education dreams. “I’ve seen that investing in education creates a ripple effect,” said Billie Redmond, a supporter of Embrace Uganda. “Eddie’s life has been changed by coming to America. But he has bigger plans. He wants to use what he learns here to improve opportunities for his community in Uganda.” 

The “story” theme was introduced at the start of the event by a well-known author, AG Riddle, and carried throughout the production by former WRAL anchor/journalist, Bill Leslie.

Incoming Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls shared his story of coming “home” to Raleigh after years of traveling for work. “My home county is Wake County. It is home to the best community college in the state! Wake Tech is a purveyor of hope, an engine of opportunity, and a pathway to jobs!”  

At the conclusion of the event the Wake Tech Trustees and former Presidents Dr. Bruce Howell and Dr. Stephen Scott joined Dr. Ralls at the stage as a sign of support and encouragement.

The goal of Wake Tech Ignite is to strengthen existing community relationships and develop new partnerships. The Wake Tech Foundation cultivates and manages a variety of resources critical to the college’s success: corporate investments, private grants, alumni and employee contributions, and financial and in-kind support from many other friends of the college. These resources fund diverse projects, from student scholarships to broader instructional and institutional needs.


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