NCSSM-Morganton Awarded $465,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) has received a $465,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to ensure critical broadband infrastructure is available to serve the school’s new campus in Morganton set to open in the fall of 2021. Golden LEAF is a nonprofit focused on increasing prosperity in rural North Carolina.  The grant project will enhance educational opportunities and create lasting economic impact for Morganton and surrounding communities.

“In our 20th year of service to North Carolina, we are pleased to invest in the Morganton expansion of NCSSM, which will be a catalyst for economic development in the region,” said Randy Isenhower, Chairman of the Board of the Golden LEAF Foundation. “This grant will leverage significant state funding and will help NCSSM-Morganton create an expected economic impact on the region of $12 million annually. The broadband infrastructure also has the potential to benefit other important educational organizations in the region and to promote additional economic development.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation grant will help fund construction of last ­mile fiber­-optic utilities and connectivity for NCSSM-Morganton, the second campus for the STEM-focused high school serving academically talented students. This investment stands to benefit not only NCSSM but also makes these utilities accessible to area neighbors including Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC), the North Carolina School for the Deaf, and other tenants within the Broughton District economic development zone.

“We are incredibly grateful for Golden LEAF’s investment in fiber and broadband infrastructure for NCSSM-Morganton,” said Kevin Baxter, Director of Western Campus Planning for NCSSM. “It will fundamentally enable the learning experience for 300 new students on the campus in the near ­term and seed transformative economic development activity for this region of western North Carolina over the longer term.”

Leveraging the tremendous opportunity in the 800 acre Broughton District, this Golden LEAF grant will have a positive impact far beyond the NCSSM-Morganton student body. Citizens of Burke County will undoubtedly feel the effects of increased connectivity and be able to share more of western North Carolina with the world. It will strengthen the network for WPCC by providing increased opportunities for those pursuing a post secondary education and participating in workforce development programs, empowering rural North Carolinians with in-demand skills for regional industry.  

The proposal was supported by community partners including Burke County, Burke County Chamber of Commerce, Burke Development Inc., Western Piedmont Community College, and the City of Morganton as well as the statewide organizations of MCNC and the NC Rural Center.