Lifelong Learning

Wake County supports public schools, community colleges, and public libraries—all strengthened by robust community partnerships. Working together, we provide individuals with the tools they need for lifelong learning and success. Building a foundation of knowledge and opportunity enriches our community and opens doors for everyone.

The county identified four strategic goals in the Lifelong Learning focus area. We encourage you to explore each goal to understand our rationale, view community and key performance indicators, and find links to other comprehensive plans and resources.

Goal 1: By 2029, increase the number of income-eligible preschool slots by 33% to ensure all kindergartners enter school ready to learn.


Wake County is committed to supporting our youngest residents as they start their educational journey. Early investments in preschool equip children with the basic skills necessary for academic success—laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning. Beyond academics, preschool education is pivotal in developing essential behavior and social skills. It teaches children how to interact with peers, resolve conflicts, and understand empathy. These formative experiences prepare children for kindergarten, ensuring they enter the schools with confidence and a curiosity to learn more. Wake County will work with our partners to ensure that every child, regardless of financial or social barriers, has a solid foundation and learns the skills to succeed in school. 

Supporting Indicators and Metrics:

Lifelong Learning, Goal 1 Supporting Indicators
Indicator FY 2020 FY 2021 FY 2022 FY 2023 Updated
Number of Wake ThreeSchool funded slots (for income-eligible three-year-old families)* ---- --- 100 200 Mar 2024
Number of Wake Pre-K funded slots (for income-eligible four-year-old families)* 1,650 1,532 1,532 1,532 Mar 2024
Total investment in Wake County SmartStart $1.7m $1.7m $2.0m $4.4m Sep 2023
Young child program offerings at Wake County Public Libraries 6,445 61 3,660 5,960 Mar 2024
Young child program attendance at Wake County Public Libraries 254,967 2,486 100,928 213,117 Mar 2024

Note: Universal access is defined as ensuring access to 85% of income-eligible children are accessing preschool education.

Goal 2: By 2029, increase by 5% the percentage of residents asked who share that they have access to quality educational opportunities.


Wake County believes all residents should have access to quality education and educational opportunities, irrespective of age, ability, race, origin, gender, or socioeconomic status. By investing in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), the County ensures that every child has the chance to succeed from an early age. Wake County extends this commitment to adult education and apprenticeship programs at Wake Technical Community College (WTCC). These programs open doors for adults wanting to upgrade skills, build economic resilience, re-enter the workforce, change careers, or for personal growth. By supporting apprenticeship programs, Wake County helps adult learners bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical skills, creating employment pathways for those seeking alternatives to traditional four-year degrees.

Investing in teacher pay and support acknowledges the invaluable role of educators. It helps WCPSS attract and retain top talent within our public schools, so students receive the highest education standards. Wake County also supports community college professors and instructors who provide accessible, affordable pathways to secondary education, career advancement programs, and lifelong learning. Programs offered through libraries, parks, and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension offer community learning opportunities to gain knowledge and recreate and promote social cohesion. By investing in lifelong learning opportunities, we nurture well-rounded individuals and build stronger, more vibrant communities.

Supporting Indicators and Metrics:

Lifelong Learning, Goal 2 Supporting Indicators
Indicator FY 2020 FY 2021 FY 2022 FY 2023 Updated
Enrollment, Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) 161,907 157,673 160,591 159,542 Sep 2023
County-provided funding to the Wake County Public School System  $516.0m $527.9m $544.2m $594.3m Sep 2023
Total per pupil funding $2,934 $3,054 $3,097 $3,358 Sep 2023
Enrollment, Wake Technical Community College (WTCC) 30,125 30,456 30,112 --- Sep 2023
County-provided funding to the Wake Technical Community College (WTCC) $24.3m $24.5m $28.0m $29.5m Sep 2023
Wake County Public Library Circulation 10.38m 7.74m 9.75m 10.95m Feb 2024
Wake County Public Library program attendance (all age groups) 360,099 14,797 145,145 287,154 Feb 2024
Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) program attendance (all age groups) 33,140 6,779 12,022 40,735 Feb 2024
Cooperative Extension 4-H services for youth, Number of unduplicated youth served 5,701 3,476 3,897 4,334 Mar 2024


Indicator CY 2020 CY 2021 CY 2022 CY2023 Updated
Wake Works participants, including pre-apprentices and apprentices 200+ 326 411 316 Oct 2023
Wake Works' participating business partners 19 51 74 109 Oct 2023

Note: Wake Works metrics provided by Wake Technical Community College presentations to the Board of Commissioners during work sessions or committee meetings.

Goal 3: Develop baseline metrics for education-based support services in Wake County Public Schools by 2025.


Wake County partners with the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) to leverage each other’s strengths and extend support services to public schools. This partnership connects students and their families to County support services, providing resources so that each student’s basic needs are met and they attend WCPSS school classrooms ready to learn.

The presence of school nurses ensures that students receive immediate medical attention and support. Behavioral and mental health supports help address students' emotional and psychological needs, offering counseling and intervention services that promote mental well-being. After-school and track-out programs extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom, offering structured environments where students can continue to learn in different settings and engage in social development. Substance use treatment programs help students overcome challenges and lead healthy lives. Together, these services underscore Wake County’s commitment to nurturing an educational environment where every student is supported, safe, and positioned for success.

Supporting Indicators and Metrics:

Indicator FY 2020 FY 2021 FY 2022 FY 2023 Updated
School nurse-to-school ratio (Wake County Health and Human Services) 1:2.2 1:2.5 1:2.6 1:2.5 Mar 2024
Chronic absenteeism in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) 7.6% 20.5% 23.6% 22.5% Feb 2024
Wake County Public School System students experiencing homelessness 4,527 4,076 4,747 5,143 Mar 2024


Goal 4: By 2029, three out of four residents asked will share that Wake County has high-quality education-based facilities, including schools, libraries, and other educational resources.


Wake County plays a significant role in developing buildings and campuses that support learning regardless of a resident’s age.  This responsibility includes facilities at the Wake County Public School System (NCGS 155C-408(b); constructing facilities with Wake Technical Community College (WTCC); buildings, grounds, and maintenance-related equipment at WTCC (NCGS 115D-32); county library facilities; and educational buildings and program rooms at multiple County parks and facilities.

These institutions are more than just buildings; they provide a place where future generations are nurtured and lifelong learners are inspired. Emphasizing physical safety protocols provides a secure learning environment where students and educators can focus on learning without fear. Incorporating designs that support mental well-being, with natural light and open spaces, promotes a positive and productive experience for all users—including students, teachers, apprentices, library patrons, visitors, and program attendees. Integrating advanced information technology infrastructure is essential in preparing learners to participate in a digital world, providing them with the tools to access information, collaborate beyond traditional boundaries, and acquire the necessary skills for success.

Wake County is committed to the appropriate and responsible construction, renovation, and maintenance of education-based facilities to ensure that they are adequate, accessible, and appropriately designed for all learners.

Supporting Indicators and Metrics:

Indicator FY 2024 FY 2025 FY 2026 FY 2027 Updated
Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) Capital Improvement Plan funding $366.5m $300.0m $403.8m $417.8m Sep 2023
Wake Technical Community College (WTCC) Capital Improvement Plan funding $96.8m $97.5m $94.3m $94.2m Sep 2023
Wake County Public Library Capital Improvement Plan funding $14.7m --- --- --- Sep 2023


Indicator FY 2020 FY 2021 FY 2022 FY 2023 Updated
Average age of Wake County Public Library facilities since construction or significant renovation 9.1 years 8.5 years 8.0 years 8.3 years Mar 2024
Wake County Public Library Visitation 0.10m 0.95m 1.22m 1.48m Feb 2024


Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

  • Wake County Public Libraries Capital Improvement Plan (Adopted Budget)
  • Wake County WCPSS Capital Improvement Plan (Adopted Budget)
  • Wake County WTCC Capital Improvement Plan (Adopted Budget)
  • Wake3 – Sustainability Collaborative (includes Wake County Government, the Wake County Public School System and Wake Technical Community College)