NCSciFest to partner with state community colleges through new five-year, million-dollar initiative

Published on
July 17, 2020

NCSciFest to partner with state community colleges through new five-year, million-dollar initiative


CHAPEL HILL, NC – Morehead Planetarium & Science Center has been awarded a $1 million grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to provide science engagement, outreach and communication training for students, staff, and faculty at community colleges across the state. The historical institution’s NCSciFest (North Carolina Science Festival) staff will lead the new statewide program.

Through the Featuring Underrepresented Talent in Urban and Rural Engagement with Science (FUTURES) program, community college students, staff, and faculty in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) will be trained in effective public communication and science outreach practices.

The program is designed to connect more communities to their local community colleges, and encourage North Carolinians—especially young people—to explore STEM as a viable sector to study and work in.

“North Carolina has a wide range of STEM career options,” says Crystal Harden, Director of Program and Inclusion Initiatives at Morehead. “We’re excited that this program will both celebrate those career paths and connect communities through meaningful public engagement opportunities.”

This comes as the country is expected to see STEM-related jobs grow 50% faster than non-STEM jobs over the next decade (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). The vast majority of these positions (92%)—like pharmacy technology, electrical systems, radiography, and dental hygiene—will require post-secondary education, but not necessarily a traditional four-year degree.

“We hope that people see that we have a strong community college system and a wide range of resources to support our economy in North Carolina,” says Harden.

Partner community colleges will tap into the vast NCSciFest network—which includes hundreds of K-12 schools and community organizations across the state—to share the stories of their profession and describe their journeys to get to where they are now.

The program is in recruitment phase and currently accepting applicants. For more information, visit

Founded in 2010, the North Carolina Science Festival is the first statewide science festival in the United States. Through a series of community-based events each April (hosted by schools, colleges, libraries, museums, parks, businesses, and other local organizations), the Festival celebrates the economic, educational, and cultural impact of science in North Carolina. It is an initiative of Morehead Planetarium & Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is a unit of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Morehead works to serve North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of UNC to engage the public for an improved public understanding of science, technology, and health. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Malenia Swinton | Marketing & Communications Manager
Morehead Planetarium & Science Center