Posted on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Community college students who’ve aged out of foster care will be getting some much needed support navigating their way forward, thanks to a generous grant from the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation.

Great Expectations program participants gathered at SWCC August 8 for the Gilliam Foundation announcement.

The Foundation has pledged $450,000 to fund housing stipends for a select group of Great Expectations (GE) students at three different colleges – Mountain Empire, Virginia Highlands and Southwest Virginia. As part of the grant, the students will also be receiving intensive financial and academic advising from adult mentors.

Housing insecurity and homelessness are major barriers to educational success for many young people attending community college. By the time they turn 26, over 30% will have experienced homelessness. And nationally, only eight percent of young people who have experienced foster care ever attain any kind of college degree.

Julia Gilliam Sterling, Director of Grantmaking at the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation, said they continue to be impressed by the resilience of GE students in the face of such adversity.

“We are proud to support this pilot initiative in order to address housing insecurity so that more students have the opportunity to achieve a college education.”

In the first year of the program, 10 students from each of the three colleges will receive $250 each month in a housing stipend. In the second year, 20 students from each of the colleges will be selected to participate in the program.

Great Expectations was launched in 2008 at a handful of community colleges around Virginia. Since then, the program has expanded to 21.

Learn more about the Great Expectations program here.'

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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