FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – A 38-year-old Fayetteville man is the first person to successfully complete a new job-training and job-placement program at Fayetteville Technical Community College called Project Cumberland Grow.
Eddie Morris’s success in the program led him to a full-time job with Comtech Inc., a supplier of wood trusses. He had interned with Comtech while participating in Project Cumberland Grow.
The FTCC-led program began last fall with $296,535 in funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation through its Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work initiative. The funding provided job training and job placement assistance for individuals considered hard to employ, including people who had been previously incarcerated for non-violent crimes, those who had experienced long-term unemployment and young adults aging out of foster care.
Morris was one of five graduates of the program’s inaugural job-training class. Four students entered the next phase – internships. In December, Morris completed his internship with Comtech, thus completing the program. He was offered a full-time job with Comtech in January.
“I liked the hands-on part of the training instead of being in a classroom all day,” Morris recalled. “This [program] helped me stabilize myself and become more structured.”
Prior to joining the program, Morris experienced personal losses. His youngest son died in infancy and his father died last year from complications of COVID-19. Morris turned to alcohol for solace and accrued multiple driving under the influence charges.
As a student in Project Cumberland Grow, Morris completed required counseling treatment as part of his probation. He said he has made a conscious decision to stay sober for himself, his fiancée and his children. FTCC Success Coach Marvin Price Jr., who mentored Morris throughout the program, said Morris saw Project Cumberland Grow as an opportunity to create a new future for his loved ones.
“He told me, ‘I will not let you down, sir,’” Price said. “Through it all, Mr. Morris demonstrated perseverance, character and a commitment to prove not only to himself, but to those who have supported him along the way, that he was going to finish what he had started. He continued to look onward and upward.”
In Project Cumberland Grow, FTCC partners with local agencies, employers and nonprofits to identify prospective trainees. Participants work with a success coach and receive ongoing counseling during the program’s 15 weeks. They also take basic courses in electrical, HVAC, plumbing and carpentry trades. Morris earned a certificate for completing more than 300 hours of basic building construction training, a card indicating completion of OSHA 10-hour safety training course and the National Center for Construction Education and Research’s (NCCER) Core Credential.
“Jobs provide hope, opportunity, and dignity,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President and Chief Executive Officer. “This initiative is a key component in building a skilled workforce to meet the needs of local employers.”
Seven students are currently enrolled in the program’s second cohort, which began Jan. 25. The Golden LEAF funding will support the program for two years and, FTCC plans to sustain the program in the future depending on its outcomes.
Fayetteville Technical Community College was established in 1961 and serves over 36,000 students annually with over 280 occupational, technical, general education, college transfer and continuing education programs.
The nonprofit Golden LEAF Foundation uses funding from the 1998 settlement with cigarette manufacturers to support economic and workforce development in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities.