Community Engagement at UNC Asheville

Community Engagement at UNC Asheville draws upon the liberal arts foundation of the institution to advance the understanding of leadership and business enterprise and explore the opportunities of ethical and effective engagement in society.

The study of leadership explores fundamental questions about who we are, how we live together, and how we influence the course of history. It exemplifies the spirit of the liberal arts: to educate people to take an active role in the world. We help students, faculty, staff, and the Asheville community realize distinctive capacities and apply learning for the good of society.


University-Wide Support

Community engagement is at the heart of UNC Asheville’s relationship-driven education, and it has been a vital aspect of campus life since our founding almost a century ago.


There are a number of different campus initiatives focused on fostering a strong partnership with our surrounding Asheville community, including:


AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) began 30 years ago in San Diego, CA in one teacher’s classroom. The program is now international in scope and is widespread across the United States. Asheville City Schools adopted the AVID program in 1997 and invited UNC Asheville to become an AVID partner in 1999. For the past 12 years, Asheville City Schools and UNC Asheville, and more recently, the City of Asheville and Mission Hospitals have collaborated to support hundreds of students as they graduate from high school and go on to attend the college or university of their choice. If you are interested in learning more about the program or finding out how you may become an AVID tutor, please contact the UNC Asheville AVID Coordinator, Kim Kessaris, at

Family Business Forum

The Family Business Forum
Provides professional learning opportunities to help these closely held businesses maximize the overall well-being of their company, and to assist with transition planning for the next generation of ownership. FBF is the only ongoing professional development program specifically designed for family businesses in Western North Carolina.

The Key Center for Community Engaged Learning

The Key Center for Community Engaged Learning connects students, community partners, faculty, and staff to build relationships that strengthen communities & address social issues. We aim to support students as they develop as scholars, leaders, and active citizens by coordinating and supporting service experiences, community based research, service learning, cultural events, and educational programs. In building authentic relationships with our community partners, we help students broaden their perspective, develop critical thinking strategies, apply transferable skills, and explore their life purpose.

Leadership Asheville

Leadership Asheville exists to build collaborative leadership capacity and foster an equitable, inclusive and sustainable community for all. To do this, we promote community leadership and civic responsibility by developing, connecting, and engaging citizens throughout the region to address the challenges and opportunities we face.

Marvelous Math Club

Marvelous Math Club is an after school club that uses a unique model integrating math and psychology. The Club centers the experiences of the students, parents, and guardians at Pisgah View Community Center and celebrates its elementary age students (Math Leaders). The Club creates a space where Math Leaders feel safe physically and emotionally. Older students and adults who support the Math Leaders with homework completion, math games and demonstrating leadership are called Math Champions

NC Center for Health and Wellness

The NC Center for Health and Wellness (NCCHW) works to impact policy, build capacity, and ignite community initiatives by working through a web of cross-sector relationships organized around building healthier places throughout the state. The two initiatives at the core of our organization include NCCHW’s Culture of Results (COR) empowerment evaluation training and technical assistance program and Healthy Aging NC (HANC), which provides statewide training, data reporting, and management, and technical assistance for evidence-based health programs. Our work collectively improves health outcomes for historically marginalized populations statewide and builds systems to support the inclusivity and decision-making abilities of these underserved populations long term.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville (formerly the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement) is an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed learning community dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, leadership, community service, and research. Our goal is to enable our members to thrive in life’s second half. OLLI at UNC Asheville (OLLI) embraces a comprehensive array of programs in the arts and humanities, the natural world, civic engagement, wellness, life transition and retirement relocation planning. OLLI continues to grow by taking the accumulated experience and knowledge of the past and making it newly relevant to the changing environment and conditions of life. Members get to join a new community by making friends with people who share curiosity and enthusiasm for trying new things.

Pre-College Outreach

The UNC Asheville Office of Pre-College Outreach (PCO) offers a wide-range of outreach activities and services available to schools, communities, and other partners. Our research, scholarship, and expertise, along with our commitment to heightening the importance of social and civic responsibility among our faculty, staff, and students, helps to fuel engaged inquiry in an evolving and increasingly complex global society. We are committed to advancing the University’s mission of seeking and serving North Carolina’s most promising students, regardless of need, and facilitating their path to graduation as a strategic priority.

Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC)

UNC Asheville hosts a Business Launch Specialist who covers Western North Carolina for the Business Launch Initiative of the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC). The Business Launch initiative is a specialized service of the SBTDC that helps entrepreneurs to evaluate an idea, form the idea into a business model, and launch the viable idea into a new North Carolina business. SBTDC established this initiative in 2019 to help early stage innovators, particularly those around university ecosystems, move forward with forming a business and to keep our state on the forefront of tech business creation.

UNCA Career Center

UNC Asheville Career Center makes it possible for students to create a future they believe in. They the liberal arts and sciences mission of UNC Asheville through a relationship-driven approach to provide individualized career coaching for students and alumni, foster faculty partnerships, and facilitate personalized connections to employers and the community.

Our Team


      Amanda Hanson – Community Engagement Project Manager

      Jan LoweDirector of Leadership Asheville

      Sophia Ungert – Executive Director of the Family Business Forum