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Past Programs

Explore some of IEI's past initiatives and projects.

Civic Conversations

The ReCONNECT NC Civic Conversations initiative was part of the national #ListenFirst movement to mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides with conversation. We invited people from different backgrounds and perspectives to spend time together in real and rich conversation in which all listen first to understand. The spirit of the Civic Conversations initiative lives on in the NC State student-led group, Campus Conversations Project.

Discovery Forum

IEI, in conjunction with BB&T and The BB&T Leadership Institute, hosted 16 Discovery Forum finalist teams from across the state in an intensive leadership development and networking retreat, designed to expand leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and provide networking opportunities. The weekend ended with a final pitch competition to a panel of 10 judges, with $15,000 in venture seed money awarded among the top three startup initiatives aimed at making their communities better places to live, work and play.


IEI served as organizing partner on the KidsReadyNC initiative, coordinating a four-person support team of content and process experts delivering technical assistance to leaders from four participating communities (Catawba, Chowan, Randolph, Rockingham counties). 


To encourage innovation capacity growth, the Institute for Emerging Issues and nine other statewide Partners launched InnovateNC, an intensive two-year, cross-city learning collaborative supporting five North Carolina communities — Asheville, Greensboro, Pembroke, Wilson, Wilmington and the Carolina Coast—as they expanded their innovation economies. The initiative also served as a model for other communities, publicly disseminating products, processes, and tools for those interested in the same goal.


Policy Innovation Leaders of Tomorrow 2021 initiative was a multi-campus program to provide undergraduates at NC universities a chance to identify critical issues facing the state and to learn how to work productively toward change.

Service Year NC

The goal of Service Year NC was to promote and make accessible a year of paid service for all North Carolinians (ages 16-28) to invest their time and talent and build skills while contributing to the vitality of their communities. Early wins for the program included recruiting four place-based leadership teams (Wilson, Greenville, Rockingham and Wilkes counties) and building an Advisory Council. This was followed by the development of a strategic plan and of relationships across the state and country. The Service Year NC initiative was transferred to John-Paul Smith and American Ripples in April 2021.

Text, Talk, Future

Text, Talk, Future was an activity designed to get students thinking about their career options and corresponding postsecondary pathways. The activity involved a student-driven, peer-to-peer conversation that facilitated an exploration of students’ strengths, interests, and career and postsecondary education or non-degree credential options. Students left the conversation better equipped to have an informed discussion when it comes to creating their four-year plan. Text, Talk, Future came with a complete lesson plan, including debrief questions and troubleshooting tips; access the lesson plan here ➔