Learn and Earn receives national award

Posted September 9, 2008 9:00 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina’s Learn and Earn high school initiative has received the 2008 Innovations in American Government Award, Gov. Mike Easley announced Tuesday.

The annual awards competition, sponsored by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, is designed to improve government practices by honoring effective initiatives and encouraging the dissemination of such best practices.

Learn and Earn was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 applicants to represent the best in government innovation on the local, city, county, tribal, state and federal levels. As a part of the award, the state will receive $100,000 toward reproducing the program.

“North Carolina is the first and only state in America to offer a free college education to every student. We are changing the delivery system of education so that college goes to the student if the student cannot go to the college,” Easley said in a statement. “This effort will assure that our state has the best work force in the world and gives every child an opportunity to reach his or her full potential.”

The Learn and Earn initiative includes the following programs to increase the number of high school graduates who are ready to succeed in college and the workplace:

  • Early College high schools are located on a community college or university campus and allow students to take high school and college courses tuition free. Students then graduate with a high school diploma and two years of college credit or an associate degree.
  • The Education Access Rewards North Carolina, or EARN, Grants join with other forms of assistance, such as federal Pell Grants, so students can avoid going into debt to pay for an undergraduate education.