2023 All-America County – Davie County, NC

Davie County has established a shared vision and values that emphasize building a sustainable future, celebrating rural heritage, and enhancing quality of life. The county has implemented comprehensive plans to facilitate this vision, with objectives such as delivering quality education and increasing career pathways. Davie County provides both formal and informal opportunities for public engagement, including public meetings, surveys, and intentional access through booths and roundtable discussions. The county works with community partners to address difficult issues, such as the opioid crisis, hate speech, and race relations.  


In Davie County, less than 33% of high school graduates (age 25-64) continue their education and earn an associate degree or higher. With most jobs requiring some education and/or training beyond high school, Davie County’s postsecondary attainment and completion rates indicate many students do not have the requisite qualifications to compete in the modern workforce. 

Recognizing that the cost of higher education and competition for limited scholarship funds are two of the most persistent roadblocks to higher education, the Davie County Chamber of Commerce began discussing the possibility of a community scholarship program. A group of key community stakeholders began meeting and quickly embraced the idea. Following several meetings and much research, the group created the IGNITE DAVIE College Promise program.  

Program goals include: 

  • Improve high school graduation rates. 
  • Increase post-secondary attainment & completion rates. 
  • Strengthen the workforce and ensure alignment with business & industry needs. 

 The IGNITE DAVIE College Promise program is a place-based scholarship program that enables students in Davie County to continue their education beyond high school graduation without incurring significant student loan debt. The program is funded by donations from a cross-sector community collaboration that includes businesses, foundations, and private individuals. The scholarship is for all students who live in Davie County and graduate from a public high school or a registered home school. Any student who desires to attend Davidson-Davie Community College (DDCC) is given the opportunity, with the percentage of scholarship awarded based on the number of school years the student resides in Davie County.  

In 2020, 25% of Davie High’s graduating class enrolled at DDCC through IGNITE DAVIE. To meet the needs of additional students, IGNITE DAVIE will expand this fall to include four short-term training programs that are designed to support students who want or need to join the workforce right after graduation by offering them the ability to work and go to school part-time to learn the marketable skills local employers seek.   

Davie Works 

The Davie County School System (DCS) and Career and Technical Education Program (CTE) program aim to equip students with the tools they need to succeed in all future endeavors, whether pursuing a university education, attending a technical school,  joining the military, or going directly into the workforce. One of the strengths of CTE is that it begins at the middle school level with exploratory courses so young people can sample and find what sparks their passion.  

DavieCONNECT compliments the CTE program by addressing the need for both a skilled workforce and educators familiar with local workforce opportunities.  Through strong partnerships with business and industry, DCS, and Davidson-Davie Community College (DDCC), several programs were developed to connect employers to students to provide career awareness, onsite tours, work-based learning opportunities, post-secondary education opportunities, and pathways to 21st-century careers.  DavieCONNECT hosts programs like Manufacturing Day tours for middle school students and a Teacher Summer Externship program to provide in-depth tours of business and industry to “teach teachers” about the local businesses community, their employment needs, and career opportunities.   

In addition to the basics, including computer labs and smart classroom technology, CTE students enjoy an impressive array of resources. Culinary students have access to professional-grade kitchens, engineering classes house multiple 3D printers, automotive students can service vehicles in the fully equipped, seven-bay garage, construction students have a full wood-working shop and masonry lab, and agriculture students can care for livestock in a “working farm” barn. 

Programs offered through Davie Works are building student resumes, enhancing college applications, and distinguishing students in an increasingly competitive job market and post-secondary education environment. 

 S.U.R.F. Board Grantmakers 

After conducting a needs assessment, the Davie Community Foundation (DCF) found that youth issues, such as substance misuse and drop-out rates, were a major concern in Davie County. To address this, DCF established a Youth in Philanthropy program in 2005, which empowers youth to address youth-related issues and provides them with training to develop leadership skills.  

The program led to the establishment of a youth grants board, S.U.R.F. (Student Understanding Real Futures) Board Youth Grantmakers, to grant funds for youth-led projects. Youth board members learn the importance of giving their time, talent, and treasure to make their community a better place. They plan an annual retreat, a fundraising event, and discuss ideas for projects that address youth needs. The POPSICLE 5K, hosted by S.U.R.F., has become the largest fundraising effort, raising between $8,000 and $14,000 for grant awards annually.  

Grant funded projects have addressed issues such as poverty, hunger, technology needs, youth workforce development, placemaking, and racism.

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