Strategic Plan

North Carolina Geographic Alliance Strategic Plan
Executive Summary
November, 2013


Since 1987, the North Carolina Geographic Alliance (NCGA) has sought to enhance geographic education in North Carolina Schools. Over the years the NCGA has produced teaching materials, provided professional development, and advocated for geography as an integral part of the curriculum. This strategic plan will carry the work of the NCGA forward through the next five years and beyond as we seek to support teachers in preparing geo-literate students for life in the 21st century.

Our Vision

The vision of the North Carolina Geographic Alliance is to develop an understanding of the full scope and value of geography among educators, governmental decision makers, and the general population of the state. Recognizing that geography is essential in preparing North Carolina students as productive citizens, the NCGA is committed to achieving geographic literacy and proficiency, not only in the classroom, but in the workforce, in business, and in the lives of all citizens. We envision the NCGA becoming a leading source of information for geography education in the state.

Our Mission

  1. To provide educators with effective and relevant professional development, support, and materials focusing on geographic concepts, content, and pedagogy.
  2. To inspire and support curriculum design and professional development connections among K-12 educators, community colleges and universities, and professional associations.
  3. To educate legislators, education decision-makers, and business leaders at the local, state, and national levels about the relevance of geography in the 21st century.
  4. To cultivate awareness among parents of students and the public at large of the importance of geo-literacy and to actively engage citizens in supporting efforts to improve geography education.
  5. To build the capacity and resources of the NCGA to enable it to carry forward its mission.

Strategic Definitions

What is Geography?

Geography is much more than just a dot on the map. Geography encompasses many disciplines and it is an integral part of the broad area of the social studies. Geographic concepts include:

  1. Spatial awareness of the earth, using maps and other graphics to explain and interpret distributions and patterns.
  2. Physical regions of the earth and the impact of physical forces on the earth.
  3. Diverse cultural patterns of people and the regions they inhabit.
  4. People interact with their environment.
  5. Interconnectedness of people, places, and regions.

Additionally, geography encompasses critical thinking skills that have problem-based, real world applications and 21st century skills incorporating technology such as GIS.

What does it mean to be geo-literate?
Geo-literacy is a term that describes the way a person views, understands, and interacts with the world. The geo-literate individual has an understanding of the dynamic physical and cultural forces that interact across the world. He or she has a spatial awareness of the world and is able to see and understand patterns, distributions, and interactions of the physical and human realms.

Being geo-literate equips a person to understand geo-political realities in order to make informed decisions about local, national, and world affairs. A geo-literate workforce will be able to compete successfully in the global marketplace. A perspective in geography offers a critically needed understanding of the relationships between human activity and the condition of the planet.

Strategic Goals

In the future, the NCGA will be more robust, influential, and effective in creating a geoliterate population. A larger leadership cadre and steering committee will lead the organization and active members will be well diversified across target audiences. Revenue sources will be diversified and predictable.

Goals of the North Carolina Geographic Alliance:

  1. Improve geo-literacy of teachers and their ability to teach geography
  2. Increase public and political support for geographic learning
  3. Build sustained financial support
  4. Build an operational infrastructure suitable for carrying out the mission of the NCGA

Strategic Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Improve geo-literacy of teachers and their ability to teach geography


  1. Design and offer professional development (PD) programs to enhance teacher skills and develop NCGA leaders.
  2. Improve communications and outreach by the NCGA to teachers.
  3. Develop tools, materials, and lesson plans to support the NC Essential Standards and the Common Core Curriculum.

Goal 2: Increase public and political support for geographic learning


  1. Build NCGA capacity and sustainability by increasing the visibility and awareness of the NCGA as the voice of geography and geo-literacy in NC.
  2. Increase the geographic representation and scope of the NCGA.
  3. Increase awareness of job opportunities in the field of geography.
  4. Raise government officials’ and decision makers’ awareness of geography as an engine for economic development and job creation.

Goal 3: Build an operational infrastructure suitable for carrying out the mission of the NCGA


  1. Deepen and broaden membership of educators and teacher leaders to forward the mission of NCGA.
  2. Establish functional leadership committees to carry out the mission of the NCGA.
  3. Develop active partnerships with business groups, public agencies, university programs, and other organizations.
  4. Increase NCGA membership beyond classroom teachers.
  5. Conduct an annual review of NCGA operations to assess the capabilities of the organization and recommend changes.

Goal 4: Build sustained financial support


  1. Secure grants to support basic operations and establish new programs.
  2. Establish an endowment in order to have consistent, sustainable funding to support
    basic NCGA operations and programs.

NCGA Structure and Organization

The NCGA will refresh its organization and leadership structure. It is clear to the planning group that the ability and capacity of the NCGA to undertake its professional development, public awareness, and capacity building goals will require a stronger and more active core working group.

The steps to engage and cultivate a more active and broad membership across the state through the MAP Network will yield results beginning in the 2nd year of the strategic plan.

In the meantime, the current leadership group will take steps to augment its membership with new leaders, reach out for additional university participation, and engage stakeholders from outside the K-12 teacher community.

The management, leadership and work of the NCGA will be done through an organization
that will include:

  1. COORDINATORS–functioning in part like a Board of Directors and a fiscal agent
  2. STEERING COMMITTEE–functioning as a management group and Board of Directors. The Steering Committee will be geographically representative and will include K-12 teachers and possibly other stakeholders. Steering Committee members will chair working committees of the NCGA. Steering committee members will most likely come from the group of “partners” developed through the MAP program.
  3. STANDING COMMITTEES–Core NCGA work will be completed in large part through several functional committees made up of Steering Committee members and others. It is anticipated that there will be at least three standing committees: A. Professional Development B. Public Awareness and Outreach C. Development and Capacity Building
  4. ADVISORY COUNCIL – made up of individuals to provide expertise in finance, fundraising, and marketing to advise members of the steering committee and standing committees.

Download the full NCGA Strategic Plan (PDF, 1 MB)