Posted on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 by Michael Tarrant under Updates. Tags: , , , , ,

The following is an excerpt of a story originally posted on UNCGNOW on November 06, 2014

It was Arne Duncan’s birthday, but he was the one who sprang the surprise. To the tune of $20 million.

Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, was at UNCG Thursday to take part in a forum about the federally-funded N.C. Investing in Rural Innovative Schools initiative, which partners with UNCG’s iSchool for online courses. That’s when Duncan announced the Department of Education will add $20 million to its earlier $15 million investment  in N.C. Rural Schools, which offers students in remote areas of the state early college credit and prepares them for college and the workforce.

“I get to feel like Santa Claus today,” Duncan said, calling the funds “not a gift, but an investment.” He said N.C. Rural Schools earned that additional investment by showing tangible, real-world results.

N.C. New Schools, the public-private partnership that administers the funds, launched the program with a pilot group of five rural high schools in 2012-13 school year. During that first year, the schools’ combined drop-out rate fell by nearly a third. The pilot schools counted 38 fewer drop-outs than in the previous school year.

“It’s not just about college credit, this is about changing lives,” Duncan said. “In some cases it’s about saving lives.”

Story by Michelle Hines, University Relations 

Photos by Daniel Smith, Division of Continual Learning