Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015


The commonwealth’s electric cooperatives (including Kent Farmer, left) are supporting efforts to boost educational attainment in rural Virginia.


The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative received some high powered attention this month when stakeholders from throughout the region were invited to the Governor’s Mansion to discuss the future of Virginia’s most educationally disadvantaged citizens.

Former Governor Gerald L. Baliles, who has chaired the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education for the past two years, introduced the project, saying there are “two Virginias.”  In one – the area represented by the more urban areas stretching from Northern Virginia through Richmond and into Hampton Roads – educational attainment ranks 2nd in the nation.  

In the other – if the area represented by the “Rural Horseshoe” stretching  from Virginia’s Eastern Shore westward across Southside to Southwest Virginia and then up the Shenandoah Valley were its own state – educational attainment ranks 50th. “Dead last, along with Mississippi and Arkansas, for students going to college.”

That should not be permitted to continue in this Commonwealth,”  Baliles said.


D. Coleman Speece, who’s a member of the RVHI Steering Committee, and his wife Barbara strike a pose with Governor McAuliffe

Stakeholders from throughout Rural Virginia, along with representatives of seven community colleges in a pilot project to boost educational attainment in the region – gathered at the Executive Mansion in Virginia, where current Governor Terry McAuliffe said Virginia’s Community Colleges are “gems” and that new emphasis on workforce credentials is going to “shake up the way we do our education.” McAuliffe said his administration his dedicated to bringing more jobs to all areas of the state, including the Rural Horseshoe.

Kent Farmer (photo at right, above), president and CEO of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, has been instrumental in rallying electric cooperatives to support the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. “This effort is just so important,” he said at the Executive Mansion in November. “We are so pleased to participate and to support the initiative.”

Photo above:  Governor Terry McAuliffe gives a nod to his predecessor Governor Gerald L. Baliles (center), with Mrs. Dorothy McAuliffe at right.'

Susan Hayden

Susan Hayden worked for Virginia's Community Colleges for 25 years in the Institutional Advancement office before retiring in December 2015. She currently is on special assignment regarding the 50th anniversary of Virginia's Community Colleges.

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