“Building the Bond Tour” Continues to Spotlight Foster Youth-Focused Community College Initiative – 5.10.13
RICHMOND – The Great Expectations “Building the Bond” tour continues with two final public luncheons scheduled for Thursday, May 23, in Norfolk and Wednesday, May 29, in Richmond.
Anne Holton, the new program director of Great Expectations, and other Virginia Community College leaders have hosted events across Virginia this month, seeking ideas and support for elevating the next phase of the foster youth-focused program.
An initiative of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education and Virginia’s Community Colleges, the Building the Bond tour is sponsored by Virginia529 College Savings Plan and spotlights National Foster Care Month.
The Building the Bond tour features a series of public luncheons for social workers, foster parents and others who work to help Virginia’s foster youth. The May 23 event is scheduled for the Norfolk Campus Student Center at Tidewater Community College. The May 29 event is scheduled for the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Conference Center at 1651 E. Parham Road.
Great Expectations began in fall 2008 at five pilot community colleges and has grown to serve foster youth at 17 Virginia community colleges today. More than 500 youth are currently in the program, which seeks to increase foster youth graduation and college retention rates. With its emphasis on a person-to-person connection with a Great Expectations coach, the program offers a unique answer to the vexing challenge of single-digit foster youth graduation statistics.
“As a society we can spend up to one million dollars on a youth who has spent his or her life inside the child welfare system. It is a heartbreaking loss to see so many of them end up incarcerated or homeless only months after turning 18,” said Holton, hired in January to lead Great Expectations. “Isn’t it so much better to have a program like ours help these young people earn a college credential that will allow them to sustain themselves? We’ve had a terrific first five years and we’re seeking ways to make the next five years even better.”
The first public Building the Bond tour event was sponsored in Charlottesville earlier this month. Holton also attended the Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival May 18 at Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) in Abingdon to benefit that college’s Great Expectations program. Leigh, a Grammy-winning artist, is an alum of VHCC.
“Anne Holton is bringing a lot of energy and excitement to an initiative that is close to my heart and I applaud her for it,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Our colleges are at their best when they can bring the community together to address a community need. And the plight of Virginia’s foster youth is just that: an unmet community need. No question, this tour and the conversations and awareness it creates will only improve Great Expectations moving forward.”
The Great Expectations Building the Bond Tour is made possible by the generous support of Virginia529 College Savings Plan.
“Virginia529 is proud to sponsor the Great Expectations Building the Bond tour,” said Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia529 College Savings Plan. “Our mission is to help make college more affordable and accessible to all Virginians. The opportunity to partner with VCCS and the VFCCE to support the Great Expectations program is an exciting way to assist and encourage foster youth to realize their dreams, highlight the exceptional programs at Virginia’s Community Colleges and focus everyone on the importance of higher education.”
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 400,000 students each year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.
About the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education: Working hand in hand with Virginia’s 23 community colleges, the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education seeks to guarantee financial assistance to all students who dream of attending college. The foundation is building an endowment that is already generating interest to provide full scholarships to selected community college students. Donors to the fund are invited to endow a single scholarship in their name and designate it to any of Virginia’s community colleges or regions. For more information, please visit vccs2staging.wpengine.com/Foundation.
About Virginia529: Virginia529 is a college savings plan that offers flexible, affordable, tax-advantaged savings programs for qualified higher education expenses through its four programs – Virginia529 prePAIDSM (prePAIDSM), Virginia529 inVESTSM (inVESTSM), CollegeAmerica® and CollegeWealth®. With over 2.2 million accounts and $39 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2012, Virginia529 is the largest 529 plan in the country. For more information on Virginia529’s college savings options, visit Virginia529.com.