NHTI’s mission statement is strategically placed directly in front of my desk as a daily reminder of the importance of not only creating a caring culture that fosters innovative teaching and learning but one that supports economic mobility and meets the needs of a diverse community by growing and strengthening our partnerships with businesses and education. A keyword in the statement is “community.” NHTI is Concord’s Community College; community is the very essence of why we exist.
Historically, community colleges were created to meet the needs of specific geographic localities beginning with veterans seeking employment training using their GI bills. This grew in scope, and what we have today is a comprehensive system of certificates, degrees, and credentials that help to build pipelines of workers serving local communities. We were created to serve our communities, and, not surprisingly, after graduation, more than 80% of our students both work and play in New Hampshire within the very communities that helped to build their career pathways.
NHTI thrives with the partnership and fellowship of our community. We are supported by many: our registered students who live in our communities; community members and advisors who inform our curriculum; companies that donate equipment to keep our training up-to-date; funders who build scholarship for students; and alumni that use our training services and support our workforce development initiatives. In turn, NHTI is a good neighbor in providing free programs for the public for community enrichment including our film series, Wings of Knowledge program series, book clubs, and many online DEI programs.
The college also adapts our curriculum to meet the workforce needs of our local companies, and we develop programs like our Innovation Lab, which connect businesses with our students and faculty to complete projects that businesses can’t do without our help. Last year, we even met the challenge of addressing the public health concern of the pandemic by turning half of our college into an alternative care site for Concord Hospital’s overflow COVID+ patients. (Thankfully, this never needed to be used.)
Partnering with our community always equates to success. When our Child and Family Development Center lab school was at risk of closure, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire stepped up and responded to an RFP to provide a lab school for our Early Childhood program students as well as childcare for the community. The partnership benefits us all with excellence in childcare for parents and children and experiential learning opportunities for our students. Similarly, our Sycamore Gardens is land that we provide to our community at a minimal cost so that it can be farmed for fresh food for a number of communities and our students. Banks, advisory board members, and other community members opened their wallets to support this initiative.
When we saw the food insecurity of our students prevalent particularly during the pandemic, both faculty and staff and external community members dropped off food and school supplies and continue to do so for our expanded Lynx Pantry. Finally, as a special gift to our graduating high school students who gave up memories and milestones due to the pandemic, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation joined forces with our foundation to give them encouragement through a free credit community college class.
Story after story show how the community works together to solve problems, to make lives better, and to build our economy. Our community is a large one comprising so many wonderful individuals; without a doubt, together we are better, stronger and kinder. #Emergestronger