ElevateNC: Higher Education

Empowering Postsecondary Attainment

The vast majority of new jobs in today’s economy require some form of education beyond high school, but not enough North Carolinians have received the credentials and degrees that allow them to fill those positions. If the state continues on its current trajectory of degree attainment, there will be a shortfall of 300,000 good jobs without the qualified workers to fill them by 2030. To address this problem, a group of leaders from across the state came together to develop the myFutureNC postsecondary attainment goal: that two million North Carolinians between the ages of 25 – 44 have attained a high-quality credential or degree by 2030.

The Ideal ElevateNC Candidate

An ideal candidate for the ElevateNC: Higher Education cohort is a policymaker, practitioner, advocate, or other stakeholder whose work touches on higher education policy. We seek individuals who are motivated to drive change on attainment and narrow equity gaps.

We begin recruiting for ElevateNC in the late spring/early summer.


As leaders across North Carolina work to make progress toward the state’s ambitious postsecondary attainment goal of two million North Carolinians with a credential or degree by 2030, The Hunt Institute and myFutureNC are working together to establish a network of engaged champions who can drive progress on attainment in their communities. ElevateNC: Higher Education is a postsecondary leadership program designed to build state and regional leadership capacity and to provide a forum for the development of statewide and community-specific strategies that increase postsecondary attainment.


Over a period of eight months, leaders will meet for four in-person sessions, each held in a different part of the state (when possible), including one out-of-state session. Sessions will take place over two days and will cover different topics and policy issues as well as offer ways for leaders to move from learning to implementing once they return to their home communities. At each meeting, participants will hear from leading practitioners, students, elected officials, and state and national resource experts.


The ElevateNC program allows the cohort to dig into a variety of higher education policy topics, with each meeting structured around a content theme:

  • Meeting One | North Carolina’s Higher Education Landscape and Access: The first meeting gives the cohort an overview of postsecondary policy in North Carolina and also touches on topics related to helping students access higher education.
  • Meeting Two | Persistence and Retention:  For the second meeting, the cohort engages with resource experts who talk about different strategies to help students make timely progress along their path to a high-quality certificate or degree.
  • Meeting Three | Completion: The third meeting focuses on how state policymakers, institution leaders, and other stakeholders can help students cross the finish line and attain a certificate or degree.
  • Meeting Four | Taking Action: The cohort spends the fourth meeting hearing about examples of how stakeholders have turned policy ideas into real solutions and develop customized action plans to guide their higher education efforts over the next few years.

Below are materials from Cohort 1, Meeting 1, to give a sense of the learning model.







Application Information

The ElevateNC: Higher Education program builds on the momentum surrounding attainment efforts by developing a cohort – and eventual network – of engaged, informed champions who can drive change on higher education attainment in their communities. The program, developed in partnership with myFutureNC, consists of four convenings where the cohort members engage with national and state subject matter experts on a variety of pressing higher education topics. Upon completion of the ElevateNC program, each cohort member develops an action plan based on their professional role and the needs of their region – and continues to receive support from The Hunt Institute and myFutureNC as they work to leverage lessons learned from the program.

To apply, prospective ElevateNC: Higher Education cohort members need to complete this Application Form, which includes three short answer question prompts, and attach a Resume/CV.

July 30, 2021 – Applications Due
August 2 – 6, 2021 – Application Review Period
August 9, 2021 – Acceptance Notification
August 13, 2021 – Cohort Membership Announced
October 18-19, 2021 – Meeting One
January 10-11, 2022 – Meeting Two
March 24-25, 2022 – Meeting Three
May 19-20, 2022 – Meeting Four


What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?

An ideal candidate for the ElevateNC: Higher Education cohort is a policymaker, practitioner, advocate, or other stakeholder whose work touches on higher education policy. We seek individuals who are motivated to drive change on attainment and narrow equity gaps.

What is the application cycle?

Application are open in the spring and are due in July.

How many cohort members are accepted?  

We added 26 new members for the 2021-22 Cohort. We generally accept 25-30 members for each Cohort.

Is attendance at all meetings mandatory?  

Yes – due to the interactive nature of the program and the small cohort size, all participants are required to attend all four meetings and are expected to hold the dates on their calendars.

Is there any cost to participating in the program?

No – all expenses related to the ElevateNC: Higher Education program (i.e. mileage reimbursement and other travel expenses as needed, hotel accommodations, and meals) will be covered by The Hunt Institute.

If I am not selected, can I be considered for future cohorts?

Yes, if applicants wish to be considered for future cohorts, The Hunt Institute will keep their applications on file for future consideration.

Has COVID-19 impacted the program at all?

Yes, because of the pandemic all ElevateNC meetings of the 2020-21 program were held virtually. We plan on moving forward with in-person programming for the 2021-22 Cohort.

I have a question that is not addressed here. Who can I contact?  

For any questions related to the ElevateNC: Higher Education program, please contact Dr. Madeline Smith, Director of Higher Education, at msmith@hunt-institute.org.