On Ramp

On Ramp Appalachia logoOn Ramp Appalachia aims to promote increased access to postsecondary education and workforce development particularly for students in rural areas, helping students who do not have college and career plans to identify their pathway to college and careers, and increasing college graduation rates.


On Ramp Appalachia is a $2.2 million Rural Postsecondary Economic Development (RPED) grant serving approximately 2,000 rural students in five school districts in the following Western North Carolina counties: Ashe, Burke, Swain, and Madison.  Four community college partners in these corresponding school districts include Southwestern Community College, Wilkes Community College, Western Piedmont Community College, and Asheville-Buncombe Community College. The project serves 11th graders through their sophomore year of college.


On Ramp has four intervention phases:

  • Phase 1 - Career & College Exploration
  • Phase 2 - Postsecondary Transition
  • Phase 3 - Postsecondary Persistence
  • Phase 4 - College and Career Promotion

Students will progress through multiple strategic initiatives during their time in the program.

Junior Workforce Connections Breakfast (Phase 1) is designed to expose all junior students in the high-need target high schools to diverse local and regional career pathways and consists of a sit-down meal with local industry professionals. Junior Workforce Classroom Visits (Phase 1) will serve all juniors in participating high schools, and consist of local employers volunteering time to visit content-aligned classrooms with juniors on the roster within the spring semester of the junior year.

College and Career Advising (Phase 2-4) ensures consistent progress monitoring to identify specific high school seniors most at risk of having no plan after high school (students with elevated needs). Phase 3 (Postsecondary Persistence) includes advising and postsecondary support at the community college including FAFSA support and internships. As students transition into Phase 4 (College & Career Promotion), advising will be adapted slightly to address the specific needs of the college sophomores by providing additional transfer advising designed for those interested in transferring to a 4-year program upon completion of the associate’s degree.


On Ramp also focuses on building and maintaining long-term cross-agency partnerships to address college readiness and workforce development for underserved students in western NC. Cross agency partners include myFutureNC, Participate Learning, The Hunt Institute, and the High Country Workforce Development Board. Each will serve On Ramp in an advisory capacity to support the development and implementation of high-quality, research-based activities.