Sharing Stories for Impact

Panelists discuss a topic at a town hall meeting in Shelby, North Carolina.

This story was featured in the Winter 2020 issue of Coates Connection, a publication of the School of Government.

When the city of Shelby began redeveloping two abandoned buildings in its flagging downtown, few could have predicted the results would turn this western North Carolina community into an international destination for bluegrass music fans. By researching the examples of other communities and embracing its cultural heritage, Shelby’s leaders and residents triggered a downtown resurgence that has provided an economic boost to both the city and Cleveland County.

Sharing stories like those from Shelby is the chief goal of ncIMPACT, a television program launched under the leadership of Anita Brown-Graham, School faculty member and director of the ncIMPACT Initiative team, on UNC-TV Public Media in January 2019. ncIMPACT sheds light on both the challenges facing North Carolina communities and the innovative solutions they develop. By sharing the work of these communities, the show highlights both the “how to” of success stories and engages the public on issues of pressing concern in our state.

ncIMPACT exists to both inspire and inform,” said Brown-Graham. “We engage in deep research regarding the challenges facing communities in our state, and work to provide local leaders with data and examples of how other places and leaders are tackling those same challenges.”

In season one, the show produced 13 episodes in communities across the state, as well as town hall meetings in Pembroke and Cullowhee. The array of topics included human trafficking, renewable energy, pretrial release pilot programs, healthcare in rural areas, economic revitalization, and more.

The storytelling didn’t stop with the original episode package. Through television broadcasts, short form stories on UNC-TV and social media, online streaming, and town hall meetings, season one generated more than 1.8 million viewers.

Key to ncIMPACT's season one success is the underwriting support of Civic Federal Credit Union. For Civic members and President Dwayne Naylor, partnering with UNC-TV and ncIMPACT on the show was a combination of the perfect message and perfect timing.

“We want to elevate awareness of how our local government leaders are literally running the state,” Naylor said. “Supporting ncIMPACT allows us to shine a light on the difference these individuals make in their communities. Civic is here to serve the people that serve North Carolina.”

Season two of ncIMPACT launched on UNC-TV on February 6. Stories slated for feature this season include entrepreneurial farming opportunities for young people, ways to reduce home energy costs, addressing health disparities, providing affordable teacher housing, bridging digital divides through rural and urban broadband and delivering community-driven housing, education and wellness solutions.

“It’s a privilege to share the stories of North Carolina’s vibrant communities, leaders and residents,” Brown-Graham said. “We are delighted with the response to season one and look forward to the conversations that are already beginning in this new season.”

Season two of ncIMPACT airs on Thursday nights on UNC-TV. Check your local listings for up-to-date air times, episode listings, and more.