Posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

By Caitlin Beckner, Marketing Specialist, VFCCE

Fourteen colleges in Virginia’s “rural horseshoe” may be eligible for funding for career coaches and other initiatives to promote high school graduation rates, higher education enrollment, and credential attainment among the state’s most underserved areas.

Grants are available through the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative (RVHI), a program launched by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) to serve regions in the state where more than half of the residents have no postsecondary education or certification.

The “rural horseshoe” describes the arc from Virginia’s Eastern shore westward across Southside to Southwest Virginia, and then up the Shenandoah Valley.

Fourteen of Virginia’s Community Colleges are located within this region.

Each college is eligible for a grant up to $125k through RVHI, with the average award around $90k, according to project director Caroline Lane. The project calls for an equal match from the school’s own fundraising foundation, used to fund programs and services that bolster high school graduation rates and post-secondary education and credential attainment.

Most schools use their grants to hire career coaches employed by the Virginia Community College System, who work in local high schools to counsel students about careers available to them and which degree or certification program would put them on the right path. All grantees must address secondary completion, postsecondary enrollment, and postsecondary credential or degree attainment goals.

“Colleges may design a new program or activity to address one of the goals, expand a current program, or describe a program for which they are not requesting funding but can show outcomes,” Lane said. “The hope is that the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative will become a springboard for programming that helps to change the way we support student success in rural Virginia.”

Colleges that wish to apply for the grant have until April 15 to submit their proposals. Since there’s a 1:1 match requirement, each institution can choose how much to request, up to $125k.

RVHI aims to double the percentage of rural residents that earn an associate degree or other college certification from 26 percent to 52 percent, and cut the percentage of residents in the targeted areas that don’t have a high school diploma or equivalent from 20 percent to 10 percent. For more information, Caroline Lane can be reached at

Learn more about the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education here.'

Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 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 270,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.

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