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Educated & Capable Community

Focus Area

A county where all residents thrive and demonstrate resilience throughout their lives.

Goal: Increase kindergarten readiness

Rationale: The years prior to kindergarten are critical in shaping a child’s foundation for later school success. Research demonstrates that learning begins at birth and that high quality early learning programs help children arrive in kindergarten ready to succeed. Yet in Buncombe County, gaps in access to affordable high-quality child care options are expected to persist due to limited availability. Currently less than 1/3 of children ages birth through five in Buncombe County are enrolled in licensed programs (4,087 out of 14,319). In NC, the average annual cost of center-based care for an infant is $9,254; $8,386 for a toddler; and $7,920 for a four-year-old.


  • Attract, develop, and retain early childhood teachers.
  • Increase percentage of kindergarteners entering public school who demonstrate proficiency.
  • Increase the percent of children ages 0-5 served by high-quality licensed care.

Most Recently Reported Results

Goal: Increase third grade literacy rates especially among underperforming students

Rationale: Early literacy has been proven to have a significant relationship with graduation rates. Third-grade students receive extra attention in North Carolina because of the state’s Read to Achieve legislative initiative, a part of the Excellent Public Schools Act. Buncombe County Schools reports growing achievement gaps between various subgroups of students (Hispanic compared to White, Economically Disadvantaged compared to Non-Economically Disadvantaged, etc.). For example, between 2014 and 2018, the achievement gap among black and white students grew from 31% to 33%. In comparison, the minority achievement gap grew even more dramatically across Asheville City Schools – from 52% to 62%. This gap is second highest among North Carolina school districts and fifth highest in the country.


  • Strengthen relationships among educational partners.
  • Reduce racial disparities in student achievement.

Notice: Currently departmental goals aligned to this Focus Area goal are not ready for reporting

Goal: Improve college and career readiness

Rationale: Readiness for college and/or careers after high school graduation is critical for students’ future success. High school graduation rates have risen over the years. Both Buncombe and Asheville City schools reported higher four-year graduation rates than the state’s average of 86.5% in 2018-19.3 Yet not all students are prepared with the skills and experience for postsecondary education or living wage jobs.


  • Increase digital resource training to area educators and students.
  • Increase vocational and technical training for high school aged students.
  • Support initiatives that promote full option graduation (workforce, vocational, or college/ university readiness).

Most Recently Reported Results

Goal: Protect older residents’ ability to age in place

Rationale: The median age in Buncombe County is on the rise. Between 2017 and 2037, each age group of Buncombe County residents is expected to grow in number but some more than others. Therefore, their relative proportions are expected to change. The number of older adults age 65+ is projected to grow by 28,330 and increase by 5% to 24% of the population. Older adults can experience disproportionate impacts from community barriers such as lack of access to affordable housing, transportation, health care, and wellness options.


  • Expand intergenerational programming and services for older adults.
  • Commit to an affordable, age-friendly community where older adults are safe, well and engaged.

Notice: Currently departmental goals aligned to this Focus Area goal are not ready for reporting

Locate & Contact

Strategic Plan Dashboards


Rafael Baptista

Strategy & Innovation Department
200 College Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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