A New Approach to Economic Development

Our Purpose:

To engage more students and employers in local educational programs that help shape future careers and meet workforce demands.

K-64 will identify, facilitate and streamline programs and initiatives that are in-place and have been proven to be best practices related to improving education as it relates workforce development.  Throughout all educational programs, there are pockets of excellence that scaffold student success in career placement and advancement.  Many times, these programs are limited in effectiveness due to a lack of funding, collaboration, or the recognition of the interrelationship to the improvement of overall career readiness.  K-64 inventories these programs, identifies success measures, and initiates business partnerships that insure the success and sustainability of a future workforce.  If a specific educational or employer training need is not being met, K-64 will develop new programs and partnerships to insure a future-ready workforce. 

K-64 is learning with a purpose, organized into clear career pathways with multiple success outcomes.  We believe that these outcomes are dependent on concise educational roadmaps that begin in kindergarten and end at retirement.

Why K-64 and Why Now?

  • Catawba County will have a net loss of -1,105 employable workers ages 18-64 by 2035.
  • Existing Catawba County businesses will add 10,000 new jobs by 2035.
  • Only 21% of Catawba County’s population over age 25 has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Only 20% of NC high school graduates obtain a credential or associates degree within 3 to 6 years after graduating high school.
  • Mecklenburg and Wake Counties account for 20% of NC population and account for 40% of new jobs since 2008.
  • The success of our citizens is influenced by where they live more than anything else.
  • Altering future outcomes will require significant changes to our education system.


Percentage of U.S. young adults ages 25–29 holding bachelor’s degrees in 2015.


Percentage of new U.S. jobs that will be generated from 2014 - 2024 requiring 4-year college education.

Guiding Priorities

We must use the guiding priorities of K-64 to focus on educational quality instead of quantity. It is an undisputed fact that in order to function in today’s workplace, you must be a life-long learner.  However, time in class does not correlate with talent or skills development.  Evidence suggests that the quality of education, measured by the knowledge that students gain as depicted in tests of cognitive skills, is substantially more important for economic growth than the mere quantity of schooling.  Extensive evidence on knowledge development and cognitive skills indicates that a variety of factors outside of school – family, peers, workplace and others – have a direct and powerful influence on employability and skills development.
K-64 must focus on improving educational quality by supporting initiatives that are already working while bridging the gap between educational practices and workforce realities.  In order to be successful, we must understand education and the workplaces that are unique to Catawba County.

What does K-64 do for Catawba County?

K-64 increases access to school-based programs that are proven best practices for preparing a qualified workforce.

How: By identifying and expanding programs that are effectively:
  • Collaborating with local employers to align courses of study with workforce needs.
  • Exposing students to real-world careers and related curriculum choices from earlier on.
  • Enabling adults to update their skills and enhance their employability in a dynamic work environment.
Our current educational model is a one-size-fits-all solution that does not take into consideration the specific needs of specific communities.  Gallup conducted a poll titled “21st Century Skills and the Workplace” and found that 59% of the workforce “developed most of the skills they use in their current job outside of school.”  This is a sure sign that there is a disconnect between education and the workplace. K-64 can fix this disconnect and will put Catawba County in the forefront of economic development if we solve this problem before our competition. 
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn.”  K-64 is our one chance to involve all citizens of Catawba County in learning and prosperity.