CMT and country star Dustin Lynch to partner with WVU Parkersburg in CMT Empowering Education campaign

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Country Music Television (CMT) and country music star Dustin Lynch are teaming up with West Virginia University at Parkersburg to encourage area residents to go back to school as part of the cable network’s CMT Empowering Education initiative.

There are 4.7 million jobs open right now in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of which remain unfilled due to a lack of skilled applicants. With Lynch as the official spokesperson, this new campaign highlights the important role community colleges play in providing affordable, relevant education and training aligned with the workforce needs.

The partnership with WVU Parkersburg is the result of a three-year collaboration with CMT Empowering Education the American Association of Community Colleges announced earlier this year aiming to raise visibility for education and rural workforce struggles. The pilot year activities will focus on recruitment and retention efforts with 14 community colleges, which includes two colleges from West Virginia. CMT will support local efforts by highlighting student success stories, combatting perceived challenges, and providing customized toolkits for marketing efforts featuring Lynch.

CMT and Lynch are asking fans to pledge their commitment to education on social media using Thunderclap, an online crowdsourcing tool. If 500 people sign up to support CMT Empowering Education by Sept. 18, Thunderclap will blast a concerted message of support across social media worldwide. As an incentive to participate in the Thunderclap, CMT and Lynch will award 10 participants with personalized gift packages, as well as one grand prize package for a VIP trip to the 2015 CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn. Fans can visit to raise their voice for education now.

“Education has always been important to me and to my family. In fact, I made a promise to my family that I would graduate from college before pursuing a career in music,” says Lynch. “I’m proud to be working with CMT’s Empowering Education campaign to help others find their path to higher education and to new careers.”

“We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential with education beyond high school,” added Lucia Folk, Vice President of Public Affairs, CMT. “We’ve seen the skills gap first-hand in rural areas like Hazard, Kentucky, where coal miners are finding new careers in health care and other industries. With the aid of Dustin and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), we want to help our viewers narrow the gap and improve their quality of life.”

CMT Empowering Education launched in 2012 to encourage viewers, no matter their age, to enroll or re-enroll in school to reach their full potential. offers crucial information and resources for prospective students, including tips for how to finance their education, a timeline for applying to school and access to a multitude of scholarship resources. By answering a few simple questions, users receive a customized action plan for completing school in a way that fits their individual needs and lifestyle.

The complete list of partner colleges includes:

  • Ashland Community and Technical College Ashland, Ky.
  • Cleveland State Community College Cleveland, Tenn.
  • Community College of Beaver County Monaca, Pa.
  • Garrett College McHenry, Md.
  • Greenville Technical College Greenville, S.C.
  • Hazard Community & Technical College Hazard, Ky.
  • Mayland Community College Spruce Pine, N.C.
  • Northeast State Community College Blountville, Tenn.
  • Pellissippi State Community College Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Southern State Community College Hillsboro, Ohio
  • Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Mt. Gay, W.Va.
  • Southwest Virginia Community College Richlands, Va.
  • Tri-County Technical College Pendleton, S.C.
  • West Virginia University at Parkersburg Parkersburg, W.Va.

About Dustin Lynch
Broken Bow Records artist Dustin Lynch occupies a unique place in today’s country music. Thanks to his classic sensibilities, he’s been heralded as the heir to George Strait’s throne. Since the release of his hit, “Cowboys and Angels,” Lynch has sold more than 1 million copies of his debut single and surpassed 16.5 million views on YouTube. He has earned two American Country Award nominations and a CMT Music Award nomination. “Cowboys and Angels” was one of Billboard’s Top 5 Country Songs of 2012.

“Rolling Stone” lauded Lynch as one of “Nashville’s New Hit Makers.” “Elle” magazine named him a “Best New Country Music Artist of 2013.” He was the only new male artist to earn a number one debut album on the 2012 Country charts. Lynch’s lead single “Where It’s At” from the upcoming Sept. 9 album is a Top 5 Country Radio hit. For more information on Dustin Lynch, visit:

About CMT Empowering Education
CMT Empowering Education is a comprehensive educational campaign that provides an online resource,, to aid CMT viewers in overcoming the most commonly perceived obstacles to furthering education. The site aggregates the multitude of existing quality information in one easy-to-navigate central location, and creates an individualized education action plan for each user.

CMT Empowering Education is founded on the same education research and insights that led to the creation of Get Schooled, a non-profit organization dedicated to using media, technology and popular culture to improve attendance. Get Schooled was formed through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Advising partners for the CMT Empowering Education campaign include Achieving the Dream, the Association of Career and Technical Education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Workforce and Economic Development at the American Association of Community Colleges, National Skills Coalition and Skills for America’s Future (the Aspen Institute).

About American Association of Community Colleges
As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 13 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s nearly 1,200 member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.

Posted in Academic Affairs, Career Services and Cooperative Education, General News, Student Services, Workforce & Community Education