Pitt County, North Carolina
Pitt County, NC – a two time 100 Best community - is a rapidly growing, well-diversified county, including a major university and a large community technical college, a regional medical center, and a growing manufacturing sector. Pitt County is a dynamic community with much to offer its youth. Pitt County has a strong heritage defined by a collaborative spirit that influences programs and services countywide. This sense of collaboration was affirmed with the development of the Pitt County Impact Alliance and the Dropout Prevention Campaign. This partnership continues to work to reduce the dropout rate through substantial, targeted and measurable change.
The Teen Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, provides a leadership program to help high school sophomores and juniors learn how to best serve their community now and in the future. Thirty-five students, representing all the areas of the county, participate in the program annually. The Link Crew program provides training for junior and senior high school students to mentor and support all incoming freshmen at each of the six high schools in Pitt County. Additionally, the Link Crew students had a significant role in the planning and development of the Pitt County Dropout Prevention Campaign.
The Pitt County Impact Alliance is a newly formed county-wide coalition to identify and address critical issues in the area. The Alliance determined that Dropout Prevention initiatives should be a top priority. Eleven local agencies are partners in the Alliance and have hosted 15 community forums with over 200 participants countywide. To aid in reducing truancy, local judges have collaborated with school administrators to dedicate one afternoon each week on their docket to address parents and students with excessive absences.
Strong collaborative community partnerships, such as the Family Engagement AT&T Foundation and United Way Worldwide grant, emphasize parent engagement as a key indicator for student achievement and emotional development. In an effort to strengthen graduation rates, the Student Success Academy – a partnership of local nonprofits, government agencies, and local chapters of the United Way and Boys and Girls Clubs – targets high risk students in elementary school and provides academic and life skills training such as service learning projects and 7 Habits to significantly reduce the likelihood of dropping out of school.
The Volunteen program at Pitt County Memorial Hospital has the largest high school volunteer program in North Carolina. Students ages 14-18 gain real world experience through their time volunteering in clerical, nursing, and transport departments performing tasks such as answering phones, reading to patients, setting up meals, filing, taking patients to procedures, and discharging patients. Approximately 300 youth volunteer each year through this program. The Teen Court program offers Pitt County students, grades 7-12, the opportunity to volunteer as jury members, bailiffs, clerks of court, and attorneys, working with adult attorneys and judges to determine constructive sanctions for first-time youth offenders. Over 110 youth volunteers help to serve 95 youth offenders through this program each year.