North Carolina Education Leaders Promote “FAST NC” Fundraising Drive to Aid NC Public Schools

Raleigh, NC

A historic storm has devastated parts of North Carolina. In response, a historic, bipartisan coalition of current and former state education leaders presented their effort to aid schools to the State Board of Education, promoting Florence Aid to Students and Teachers (FAST NC) as an drive to help North Carolina’s public schools as students and educators struggle to return to normal.

Hurricane Florence caused at least 1.2 million, or about 80 percent, of North Carolina’s public school students to miss some school. Many school buildings are damaged, and several school districts are still closed due to displacement, flooding and storm-related disruptions. Now, FAST NC has brought together an illustrious steering committee for the effort to help schools recover.

Elections and lawsuits may have put them on opposing sidelines in the past, but now these leaders are working together to help the team that matters most: North Carolina’s public schools. In an effort initiated by former State Superintendent Mike Ward, the steering committee for FAST NC is:

  • June Atkinson, former State Superintendent
  • Eric Davis, State Board of Education Chairman
  • Henry Johnson, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and former Mississippi State Superintendent
  • Mark Johnson, State Superintendent
  • Phil Kirk, former State Board of Education Chairman
  • Mike Ward, former State Superintendent

FAST NC will utilize an existing foundation established by the State Board of Education in 1989 to provide support for public schools, and will work with local superintendents, charter school directors, and statewide associations to identify needs and to direct funding from the foundation. FAST NC will not seek to duplicate payments from insurance or state or federal disaster aid, but instead will focus on supplementing the work of these sources. It also provides a highly visible way for those nationwide to contribute to Florence relief with an emphasis on public schools.

The steering committee will make decisions about funding requests submitted from educators and administrators across the state that have the approval of the local superintendent or charter school director.

Citizens, businesses and other organizations are encouraged to visit to find out how to donate to the effort. State Superintendent Mark Johnson is encouraging educators and civic groups in unaffected parts of the state to organize fundraising and supply drives for those in Florence-affected areas.

The leaders of FAST NC have worked since the storm to assemble a coalition of allies in their efforts. While this list is growing, current allies of the FAST NC effort are listed below the steering committee quotes and will be updated at


Mike Ward:
“We’re really pleased at this combination of talent and interest in helping kids and educators of North Carolina. First and foremost, we want to help the students and educators who are impacted by the storm. But we also want to send a signal that these circumstances call for leadership that transcends political barriers, leadership that reaches across divides, leadership that says, first and foremost, the interest of our kids and our educators are paramount.”

June Atkinson:
“In the best of times it takes many spokes of a wheel to develop a child’s knowledge, humanity and strength to meet the demands of life. As adults in North Carolina who are responsible for the wheel of our children, we must do something. By working together as a hub of the wheel, we can warm the hearts and restore the hope in the hearts and minds of our many children.”

Mark Johnson:
“I’m proud to stand with this group and ask for support from North Carolina. We are a state that comes together when times are tough, puts aside differences, and we do what’s right for students and educators.”

Eric Davis:
“To our students and teachers, know that help is on the way, help to get you back on your feet and back in school. I challenge us all: Let’s do the right thing. Let’s show our students and teachers just how much they mean to us by donating generously and helping our students get back to school.”

Phil Kirk:
“We’re very excited to be here as a bipartisan group on a non-partisan challenge. And I’m pleased by the way we’ve come together on behalf of the children and educators. We thank all the partners so far who have said yes.”

Henry Johnson:
From his experience in post-Katrina Mississippi, where he was dispatched from the U.S. Department of Education, Johnson recalled the pleas of local superintendents there who told him: “Help the students and the families in the communities. That’s what the FAST NC effort is designed to do.”

Partner Organizations

  • BEST NC - Brenda Berg, CEO
  • Communities in Schools of North Carolina
  • East Carolina University College of Education
  • Eastern North Carolina District of the AME Zion Church - Bishop Kenneth Monroe; Presiding Elder Hanna Broome of the Dunn/Lillington District of the Central Conference
  • First Book - Chief Operating Officer Chandler Arnold
  • Hunt Institute - CEO Javaid Siddiqi
  • National Association of State Boards of Education - CEO Kristen Amundson
  • NC MAST (North Carolina Math Alliance Supporting Teachers) - Executive Director Jennifer Curtis
  • North Carolina Association of Educators - President Mark Jewell
  • North Carolina Association of School Administrators - Executive Director Katherine Joyce; President-elect Glenda Jones
  • North Carolina Business Committee for Education - Executive Director Caroline Sullivan
  • North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching Development Foundation - Board Chair Rich Schwartz
  • North Carolina Chamber of Commerce - Lewis Ebert, president and CEO
  • North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, C4C - Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
  • North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children - Board Chair Sid Baker; Executive Director Marca Hamm
  • North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities - President Hope Williams
  • North Carolina School Counselor Association - President Tim Hardin
  • North Carolina State University College of Education - Dean Mary Ann Danowitz
  • North Carolina Parent Teacher Association - Executive Director Catherine Peglow
  • North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association: Executive Director Shirley Prince
  • North Carolina School Boards Association - Executive Director Ed Dunlap
  • North Carolina School Superintendents Association - Executive Director Jack Hoke
  • Northeast Region Education Service Alliance - Director Dwayne Stallings
  • Northwest Region Education Service Alliance - Executive Director Don Martin
  • Professional Educators of North Carolina - Executive Director Bill Medlin
  • Public School Forum of NC - Board Chair Tom Williams; President Keith Poston
  • Sandhills Region Education Consortium - Executive Director Jim Simeon
  • Southeast Education Alliance - Executive Director Kathy Spencer
  • Temple Beth Or - Rabbi Lucy Dinner
  • Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, C4C - Bishop Paul Leland


About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

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