Twin Counties Community Academy
A 2010 report entitled the Twin Counties Competitive Assessment published by Dr. Johnson at the UNC Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and Kenan-Flagler Business School stated that the health among the population in Eastern North Carolina is among the worst in the country and that unhealthy lifestyles would serve as a deterrent to economic growth and development.
In 2011, Sue Perry-Cole, President and CEO of NCACDC, served as a co-chair in the Twin Counties Visioning and Strategic Planning Process (TCVSPP), where residents from Edgecombe County, Nash County and the City of Rocky Mount embarked upon an effort to create a shared vision and a prosperous future for all residents of the Twin Counties.NCACDC also began the process of building an integrated strategy linking community development, nutrition and food and agricultural production to improve the dire health and economic conditions plaguing the area. Consequently, NCACDC developed a three pronged approach involving advocacy, community organizing and community economic development to achieve results for the region’s residents.
Associated with our TCVSPP work, NCACDC launched an authentic demand approach to place-based family strengthening that can lead to improvements in the quality of life and health in underserved neighborhoods. We used the TCVSPP as a catalyst to ignite and expand grassroots community dialogue about issues critical to the well-being of financially needy residents. Our goal, through resident leadership training and skill building, is to increase resident voices at decision-making tables with confidence and competence to fully participate in deliberations. We also want to use a small group of residents to connect to the broader community to share information.
To continue to promote strong and effective resident leadership in TCVSPP activities and related community revitalization efforts, increased civic participation, enhanced use of social networks and community organizing, NCACDC continues to expand operations. Our goal, by braiding together these strategies as community renewal efforts occur, is to produce a powerful and transformative community change agenda that improves low wealth residents’ quality of life and health.
Fair Housing Advocacy
The City of Rocky Mount is currently undergoing a transformation. In efforts to revitalize the region and
generate economic impact for Rocky Mount and the surrounding region, large-scale projects are underway
such as the Rocky Mount Events Center and the Rocky Mount Brewmill. These projects are being constructed
to not only attract economic investment but attract newcomers to Rocky Mount, and these developments will
not only impact Rocky Mount’s downtown district but its neighborhoods as well.
Towards the goals of elevating health equity, eliminating residential segregation and ensure that residents of
underserved neighborhoods are not displaced due to the threat of gentrification, the Community Academy has
partnered with Legal Aid of NC (LANC) to promote equal housing opportunity for all through community
education and organizing around The Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing
based upon a person’s race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status or national origin. The law also
aims to eliminate housing discrimination and take significant action to overcome historic segregation to
achieve inclusive and integrated communities.
One way that the Community Academy is advocating for fair housing in Rocky Mount is through engagement
in the City of Rocky Mount’s Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) process. For more information about this
process, Read more
To increase citizen participation in this process, the Community Academy hosted several trainings to educate
citizens about the process, as well as engaged in public outreach efforts that led to unprecedented levels of
citizen participation in the public hearings.
On July 8, 2017, the Southeast Rocky Mount Community Organization (SERMCO) collaborated with the
CommunityAcademy to organize a neighborhood rally to raise awareness of fair housing issues in and
promote neighborhoodunity in Southeast Rocky Mount. The rally made it to the front page of the Rocky Mount
Telegram in an article. Read more
The rally also garnered the attention of statewide organizations such as the NC Community Development
Initiative (NCCDI), which published an article about SERMCO’s community development efforts. Read more
The unwavering dedication of the Community Academy also resulted in a 2017-2019 grant award from the
Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and health for the
financially needy of North Carolina.
The Community Academy’s efforts to organize citizens for fair housing in Rocky Mount also resulted in a draft
AFH that contained several policy recommendations that could make significant improvements in
underserved neighborhoods in Rocky Mount. Several of these recommendations, such as a general obligation
bond for affordable housing rehabilitation and inclusionary zoning, were researched and shared by the
Community Academy in the AFH process. The Community Academy’s efforts influenced the Rocky Mount City
Council to vote to approve the AFH document in December 2017, as well as make a public commitment to be
proactive in taking steps to fight gentrification in Rocky Mount. Read more
For more information about the Community Academy or how you can get involved, please contact NCACDC
Indicator data shows that younger residents, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with lower incomes, and
those with less education consistently report lower levels of civic engagement. Strong civic engagement in a
community encourages a higher quality of life including better schools, committed service organizations,
responsive government, lower crime, and vibrant social, faith, and cultural institutions. Communities with high
levels of civic engagement prove more economically resilient even during inevitable economic downturns. A
highly engaged citizenry is also critical to a democratic society.
Recognizing the importance of youth civic engagement, the Community Academy is working to increase such
engagement through the launch of a youth leadership initiative to train local teens in Rocky Mount to be
community leaders and community organizers, who in turn train other local teens to be leaders and
organizers in their own neighborhoods. The program is designed in a community organizing framework, and
it focuses on building youth leaders, building youth relationships and building youth power.
The program is designed in a community organizing framework to strengthen the number, diversity and skills
of resident youth. We will focus on exposure of a small group of City/area youth to programmatic organizing
skills development to build and expand youth leadership, youth relationships and youth power. Another
program goal isto bring youth voices to decision making tables and thereby build youth power in Rocky Mount
and the Twin Counties and to strengthen the local community by tackling specific, community defined, and
On February 10,2018, the Community Academy transported a delegation of youth from Rocky Mount to
particpate in the NC NAACP's 12th Annual Moral March on Raleigh and Historic Thousands on Jones Street
(HKonJ) People's Assembly in Raleigh, NC. The theme of this year's gathering was "Take It to the Ballot Box,"
which emphasized theimportance of citizen engagement in political processes at the local, state and national
level. Not only did our delegation of youth get to learn from and network with fellow activists from across the
state; they also made the evening news! Video link to the segment on WRAL News!
On March 24, 2018, members of the Community Academy traveled to Raleigh to participate in the March for
Our Lives in Raleigh youth rally, which was held in solidarity with March for Our Lives rallies that were held
throughoutthe US on that same way to honor the victims of the February 2018 Stoneman Douglass mass
shooting in Florida and put pressure on policymakers to pass laws that ended gun violence.