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Focused on Equity: State Library Grant Awarded to McDowell Tech

Marion- McDowell Technical Community College continues its efforts to find equitable solutions for its students and our community. The college has been awarded a grant from the State Library of North Carolina (SLNC) to increase digital literacy and equity for historically unserved and underserved populations in McDowell County and throughout the region.

The SLNC Bright Ideas Grant will start a laptop loaner program for enrolled MTCC students. Altogether, proceeds funded 16 Acer laptop computers, computer bags and a computer storage cart for McDowell Tech at a total of $14,008. The computers have been catalogued and are already available for checkout in the library during regular business hours. Students who want to check out a computer must sign a liability agreement related to loss of or damage to the laptop, and computers must be returned at the end of each semester. Students who return their computers are eligible to check out another computer the following semester if they are continuing their studies at the college.


SGA President Jose Rico Martinez, Director of Student Success Chuck Bowling and SGA VP Kaley Ellis
SGA President Jose Rico Martinez, VP Kaley Ellis and Director of Student Success Chuck Bowling

“We aim for everyone who comes through our doors to be successful,” said Dr. Brian Merritt. “It is important to recognize the privilege that many of us have. It is easy to take technology for granted because it is so prevalent today, but everyone does not have a laptop at home to complete assignments, particularly in hybrid and online classes. This grant has allowed us to purchase new computers that students may check out through our library—the Smith Academic Resource Center—to help them with their class and lab assignments.”

“The computers come pre-loaded with Microsoft Office software, as well as Acrobat Reader,” said Elmer Macopson, Director of Technology at McDowell Tech. Macopson and his staff provide technical support to the library for the new computers. While students may complete assignments on the new computers, they must have their own storage device for saving work, whether that is an external hard drive or some other kind of media, such as a thumb drive.

The State Library of North Carolina, which administers the Bright Ideas Grant Program, made grants of up to $15,000 each this year to community colleges, University of North Carolina system colleges, public libraries and North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities in eight different categories of funding, ranging from Early Childhood Literacy to Health and Citizen Science, among others. The college’s application for the grant was in the Digital Inclusion category, whose goal is to increase programs and services “that support digital inclusion, digital equity, and digital literacy efforts in local communities.”

“Thanks to Ramona DeAngelus, Director of Library Services, for initiating this idea. Together, our success team, along with Director of Development, Madalyn Gaito, our IT Department, and others collaborated to bring this idea to life. We appreciate the State Library of North Carolina for their leadership in making these grants available and for inspiring innovation, expanding equitable access, and strengthening capacity throughout the state,” said Merritt, MTCC President.

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