South Piedmont Community College Named a 2023 Top 10 Finalist for Prestigious Bellwether Award

South Piedmont Community College is among a small number of community colleges nationwide recently recognized as a 2023 Bellwether Award finalist. Receiving a top 10 finalist placement in both the “workforce development” and “instructional programs and services” categories this year, this competitive recognition shows that SPCC continues to provide exemplary programs.

The Bellwether Award, considered one of the most elite awards given to community colleges, focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs worthy of replication. Community colleges showing innovation and excellence are considered for the award and undergo a rigorous, two-round selection process. The final round of review, taking place in February 2023, will result in one winner in each category.

Bellwether Finalist: “Filling the Pipeline”

This is the second year in a row that the college has been nominated for this award. This year, South Piedmont is recognized as a top 10 choice in the Workforce Development category for their “Filling the Pipeline” program in partnership with Columbus-McKinnon. This learn-and-earn model of education aims to help meet labor shortages and provide access to in-demand, high-wage jobs in Anson County, NC.

Bellwether Finalist: “Learning Reimagined”

The college was also recognized as a top 10 finalist in the Instructional and Program Services category for its “Learning Reimagined” program. This program is dedicated to increasing access, removing barriers and providing flexibility to meet the diverse needs of community college students.

For the second year in a row, South Piedmont will advance onto the final stage of review and present its projects to the Community College Futures Assembly in San Antonio, sponsored by the Alamo Colleges District, in February 2023.

“To be recognized again as a Bellwether Award finalist is a proud testament to the dedication we put into our programs and how we invest in and serve the students in our community,” Dr. Maria Pharr, SPCC President said. “It is this hard work and commitment to quality and service-oriented programming that have made our innovations award-winning. We are honored to be considered along with this elite group of community colleges this year and we look forward to presenting among them at the 2023 Community College Futures Assembly.

About SPCC

South Piedmont Community College sits at the crossroads of where you are and where you want to be. It is a college with heart and opportunity; it helps residents of Anson County and Union County gain knowledge, improve skills and expand possibilities no matter their starting point. Through accessible, affordable, high-quality programming, SPCC empowers its students to complete their education and achieve their goals.

SPCC has four locations, two in Union County and two in Anson County and has served residents since 1999. Programs include traditional undergraduate studies, adult basic skills education and work-based learning. Learn more at spcc.edu.

2023 Bellwether Finalist

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Celebrates New Speckled Paw Coffee Location at SPCC

Anson County Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Speckled Paw Coffee on October 5, 2022 for the newest location on SPCC’s Polkton Campus.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at LLP Campus

Speckled Paw Coffee, a local favorite, has now added SPCC’s LL Polk Campus to its list of locations. On October 5th, 2022, the Anson County Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the company’s fourth location. 

Serving different coffee and espresso drinks, smoothies, baked goods and more, Speckled Paw Coffee prides itself on providing locally roasted coffee to North Carolina communities and giving them a place to come together for conversation. Follow the campus location on their Facebook page and be sure to stop in for a coffee.

Staff, students, and the public can all visit Speckled Paw on the LLP campus every Monday through Friday in the Martin Student Center between 8 AM and 2 PM.


SPCC Recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month with “Love Does Not Hurt” Presentation

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Event

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, SPCC welcomed Turning Point to present “Love Does Not Hurt” on Tuesday, October 18th in the Student Center of the Main Building. 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Approximately 86 students were in attendance and ate pizza while listening to Turning Point’s Jessie Lindberg present about the different forms of domestic violence, which are often not physical. Common forms of domestic abuse are emotional, mental and sexual abuse. She shared how abusers use technology to exert control over their partners by remotely locking doors or adjusting the house temperature and how these forms of abuse take a deep emotional toll.

Ms. Lindberg shared that it can take up to seven acts of abuse before a survivor leaves an abusive relationship; it is difficult for people to leave due to a lack of financial resources and a safe place to go. She discussed the need for survivors to have an exit strategy so that when they leave their abusers, they can access their important documents and other essentials. On average, Turning Point clients stay in the shelter for 90 days.

SPCC counselors Eric Skeen and Dr. Erica Andrews discussed that Counseling Services can assist students who have experienced domestic violence and provide connections with community resources.

About Turning Point

Turning Point is the only organization in Union County that provides resources for domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse survivors. Anyone who needs support from Turning Point can obtain resources or counseling for free.

The organization relies on volunteer support to maintain their stores and support their shelters. Anyone looking to volunteer can learn more about it by taking a mandatory one hour orientation class, available once a month, and volunteer opportunities exist for individuals and groups.

Shopping at Turning Point boutiques also helps to support survivors. Second Chance Boutiques are located in Waxhaw, Monroe and Indian Trail and there is a Home Décor Boutique in Monroe. To learn more about Turning Point services, volunteering, and shopping at the boutiques, visit www.turningpointnc.org.

South Piedmont Community College Looks to Support the Local Economy with Proposed Center for Entrepreneurship

center for entrepreneurshipcenter for entrepreneurship






Like many during the shutdowns in 2020, South Piedmont Community College (SPCC) graduate Akilah Cash decided to take up a new hobby. This hobby, which began as a way to make ends meet, became more successful than Akilah had imagined with the help of the Small Business Center at SPCC.

After graduating from South Piedmont Community College in 2019 with a degree in Medical Assisting, Cash gained a rewarding career in the local healthcare system. During the pandemic shutdowns she started candlemaking as a hobby, which became a way for her to make ends meet between shifts in her healthcare job. When she decided she was ready to turn her candlemaking from a hobby into a business, she came back to SPCC and worked with the Small Business Center. There, she worked with SPCC staff to establish a viable business plan and grow her business to what it is today. The proud owner of Grey Candle Co., Akilah is still growing her business and has been able to sell her products in multiple shops regionally.

With more than 6,000 businesses in Anson County and Union County, most of which have fewer than 50 employees, entrepreneurs and business owners, like Akilah, are a critical part of the regional economy. In fact, startups and small businesses account for the most job creation in North Carolina as a whole, with businesses that are less than five years old being the main driver of job growth. Like Akilah, many aspiring entrepreneurs are looking to start their own business and be their own boss, but so many lack the support and know-how to be successful.

At South Piedmont Community College, we think there’s an opportunity to change that. Our college is already a community partner to the regional business community with quality education that is both accessible and affordable. These resources, many of which are free or covered with financial assistance, provide skills and hands-on experience to local business owners and entrepreneurs so they can start and scale their businesses successfully. The College’s philosophy is this: when small businesses succeed, it means the entire community does better with higher paying jobs and a better quality of life.

This November, Union County voters are facing a choice to fund a Community College Bond, which would support the construction of a Center for Entrepreneurship. If it passes, the Center would serve as the next evolution of South Piedmont’s relationship with local businesses through an innovative, holistic resource center for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the region. The Center for Entrepreneurship is designed to provide advising and mentoring services, networking opportunities, in-demand classes that support entrepreneurs learn, connect, compete, launch and grow their businesses. 

To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Community College Bond on the ballot for Union County voters on November 8th, visit our FAQ page at https://www.spcc.edu/UnionCountyBond22.

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