SALISBURY, N.C. – Educational and county leaders in Rowan County officially joined forces to elevate learning for students of all ages across the community as the Rowan Education Collaborative shared its first official update to the community on April 21 on Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s North Campus in Salisbury.

The first-of-its-kind community partnership is a consortium of leaders from Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Catawba College, Livingstone College, Rowan County Government, and the Rowan Economic Development Commission.

“We are smarter, stronger and better together,” said Greg Edds, Rowan County Commission chair. “By aligning ourselves behind the common goal of creating a robust culture of learning, we can do more and achieve more for our students and our community. We have outstanding resources in Rowan County, and we want to tap into the strengths of each. Instead of silos of excellence, we want to create an alliance of excellence.”

Members began meeting in 2019 to design with the framework and vision for the Rowan Education Collaborative, with the mission of offering more and better opportunities for learning and success for students of all ages.

“We set out with the ambition to create an agile talent framework that promotes prosperity for businesses and residents. We want to link and leverage the resources of our educational institutions so that students have a seamless experience moving from the K-12 system to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College to Catawba or Livingstone in degree programs that are relevant to our community’s workforce development needs,” said Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Vice President of Corporate and Continuing Education Craig Lamb and facilitator for the group.

The Rowan Education Collaborative aims to create a comprehensive, forward-thinking plan that focuses on education as a driver of economic prosperity and personal success. Some partnerships already are in place, including college classes for high school students, internships and job shadowing programs that benefit both students and local employers, and articulation agreements between local educational institutions that allow area students to pursue their studies without leaving the county.

The first testament to the group’s work is a $45 million bond referendum that the public supported in March 2020. As a result of the public’s support, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College plans to expand and enhance programs including welding, machining, and automotive technologies, all of which are related directly to the county’s workforce and economic development needs. A portion of the bond package is planned to fund facilities for Rowan Early College and high school students and a first-of-its kind decontamination center to train firefighters in critical safety procedures.

Additionally, Catawba College and Rowan-Cabarrus have joined forces to create the “Learn Local, Grow Local” transfer agreement that enables Rowan-Cabarrus graduates to transfer with junior standing into more than 30 programs and conversations are in place to create similar agreements with Livingstone College.

The group continued to meet throughout the pandemic and networked to partner on critical resources. Livingstone College partnered with Rowan-Cabarrus to offer on-campus COVID-19 testing for students, employees and the community throughout the pandemic.

“We have started the ball rolling, but there is still work to be done,” Edds said. “Our goal is to continue intentional, strategic, data-driven creation of a holistic learning community in Rowan County that leads to elevated student performance, abundant career opportunities for our citizens, and a pipeline of prepared workers to attract even more employers to our area.”

The Rowan Education Collaborative team includes:

  • Rowan-Cabarrus Community College – Dr. Carol Spalding, Jonathan Chamberlain, Sarah Devlin, Ken Ingle, Craig Lamb, Dr. Michael Quillen and Board of Trustees Chair Carl Short, Jr.
  • Rowan County Government – Aaron Church, Greg Edds and Jim Greene
  • Rowan Economic Development Commission – Rod Crider
  • Rowan-Salisbury Schools – Dr. Jason Gardner, Dr. Andrew Smith, Anthony Vann and Board of Education Chair Dean Hunter
  • Catawba College – Dr. David Nelson, Drew Davis and Dr. Constance Lowery
  • Livingstone College – Dr. Jimmy Jenkins and Pete Teague

“Education is the best investment a person can make in their future, and it’s the best investment we can make as a county in the future of our citizens,” said Jim Greene, Rowan County Commission Vice Chair. “With the Rowan Education Collaborative in place, Rowan County citizens can count on abundant opportunities and bright futures.”

For more information about the Rowan Education Collaborative, contact Sarah Devlin at