Ereka Williams Dogwood Health Trust

Ereka Williams, vice president of education for Dogwood Health Trust.

The results of a comprehensive landscape study of K-12 education in Western North Carolina, which was commissioned by Dogwood Health Trust, is now available to the public.

The research and analysis, conducted by the Education and Policy Initiative at Carolina (EPIC), highlights the strengths in the region’s K-12 schools and the opportunities for Dogwood and its partners to better promote the wellbeing of students throughout Western North Carolina. The full report is available for free download on Dogwood’s website at

Dogwood will host a webinar with the researchers from EPIC at noon Wednesday, Oct. 26, to review the findings in more detail. All members of the community are invited to attend. To register, visit

Dogwood commissioned "A Landscape Analysis of K-12 Education Outcomes in Western North Carolina" to help inform its future investments in K-12 education. EPIC, a group of quantitative and qualitative scholars at UNC Chapel Hill, conducted this rigorous research by comparing data on the K-12 students, educators and schools in Western North Carolina with those of other parts of the state. EPIC also explored how our region’s students, teachers and schools fared during the COVID pandemic. 

“For every student in Western North Carolina to graduate ready for college or career, one of our wisest investments is in the systems and programs that support academic growth and social-emotional health. What happens before the first bell and after that last bell of the school day is so critical to what goes on during the school day,” said Dr. Ereka Williams, vice president - education at Dogwood Health Trust. “This study gives us data specific to Western North Carolina and quantifies the opportunities we currently have to better promote the wellbeing of all students in WNC”

To achieve its goal for all WNC students to graduate ready for college or career, Dogwood is bolstering K-12 learning experiences, addressing K-12 workforce challenges and equipping families of students with resources to support academic growth and social-emotional health.

Dogwood is also increasing the capacity of partners throughout the region, so they are able to provide additional support and services. Guided by this recent study, Dogwood will amplify its work around K-12 education by:

Collaborating with other Strategic Priority areas to launch the Career and Technical Education Credentialing Effort, in which K-12 public school units and community college partners in the region support middle, secondary and post-secondary learners with career and college readiness skills and credentials needed to rebuild WNC's economy and community

Initiating the WNC After 3PM Effort  with inventory of after school, weekend and summer opportunities that support the area's K-12 youth across the region, and determine the best path forward for building on the abilities of community partners across the region to collaborate, align and deepen out-of-school opportunities

Initiating an Equity and Community Confidence Effort to increase engagement and close gaps in achievement, retention and graduation rates in K-12 schools across the region  

“Dogwood is continuing to gather key data and commission studies that will better inform our strategies and support the work of partners in the region,” said Dr. Susan Mims, CEO for Dogwood Health Trust. “We hope that our partners and others working with our region’s K12 students will find this comprehensive study to be a valuable resource.”

The study's authors, Kevin C. Bastian, PhD, Sarah C. Fuller, PhD, and Camille Mikkelsen will present their findings and offer a high-level analysis in addition to answering questions during an informational webinar at noon, Wednesday, Oct. 26. Everyone is welcome to attend. To register, visit

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