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MEDIA CONTACT: Jeffrey Kraus
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(804) 592-6767
jkraus@vccs.edu
Dominion Foundation Invests $500,000 in VFCCE’s Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative

Funds to support workforce development at seven community colleges in rural areas

Weyers Cave, Va. – The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) has received a major financial grant of $500,000 from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources, to benefit the VFCCE’s Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative (RVHI).

The announcement was made today during a special event held in the Robert E. Plecker Workforce Center at Blue Ridge Community College.

The Honorable Gerald L. Baliles, chair of the VFCCE and former governor of Virginia, accepted the presentation check from Paul D. Koonce, executive vice president, Dominion Resources. VFCCE and community college executives at the event were Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges and John Downey, president of Blue Ridge Community College, among others.

“This significant investment from the Dominion Foundation will be used to further the mission of the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative, which aims to transform Virginia’s rural communities through higher education and 21st Century job skills,” said Baliles. “We are honored to receive this grant that will boost career opportunities and elevate workforce development efforts in the commonwealth for years to come.”

“The Dominion Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of those in the communities we serve, and what could be more important than helping young adults to achieve their full potential through obtaining an associate’s degree at one of Virginia’s Community Colleges,” said Koonce. “We are very proud to support the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative and its strategies to impact the economic prosperity of Virginia.” 

DuBois added, “Even more valuable than the generous financial support is the vote of confidence from such a major employer for an effort that spans the rural areas of Virginia. Thanks to Dominion, hundreds of young men and women will see their dreams of earning a college credential come true.” 

Named for the horseshoe-shaped arc that is formed when the colleges in rural regions of Virginia are marked on a map, the RVHI has implemented strategies to cut in half the number of residents living within the rural horseshoe who lack a high school diploma or its equivalent and to double the percentage of those in rural areas who hold post-secondary credentials.

One of those initiatives involves engaging community college employees called Career Coaches to help local high school students build and pursue college and career plans while still in high school. Another program, the GED Initiative, incentivizes high school dropouts to return for their GED with the knowledge that a community college scholarship is waiting for them upon completion of the GED.

Seven of Virginia’s 14 rural community colleges are engaged in the RVHI’s initial pilot. Those colleges will immediately benefit from the Dominion investment. They include:  Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave; Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge; Danville Community College; Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa; New River Community College in Dublin; Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville; and Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin.

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; helping more Virginia foster youth pursue and complete higher education through its Great Expectations program; and leading a partnership to improve rural Virginia’s education pipeline through the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative.  For more information, please visit vccs2staging.wpengine.com/Foundation.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the 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.

Dominion (NYSE: D), is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy. The Dominion Foundation is dedicated to improving the physical, social and economic well-being of the communities served by Dominion companies. The Foundation supports nonprofit causes that meet basic human needs, protect the environment, support education and promote community vitality. For more information about Dominion, visit www.dom.com.

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