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Virginia Foundation for Community College Education
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AT&T Public Affairs
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AT&T Contributes $45,000 to Virginia Foundation for Community College Education

AT&T Contributes $45,000 to Virginia Foundation for Community College Education
~Program designed to help underserved, rural students complete high school, pursue advanced education~

RICHMOND, VA (April 21, 2014) — AT&T is contributing $45,000 to support the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. The effort, led by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), aims to help underserved students in rural Virginia complete high school and pursue advanced education. The announcement was made at the 9th Annual Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy Luncheon.

More than one in four of the 2.1 million Virginians across parts of the Rural Horseshoe have less than a high school education, according to VFCCE.  And, while Virginia ranks in the top 10 for higher education attainment, the Commonwealth ranks 19th from the bottom in percentage of the population with at least a high school equivalency. The VFCCE hopes to change those statistics by leveraging the programs and resources of 14 of Virginia’s Community Colleges: Blue Ridge, Dabney S. Lancaster, Danville, Eastern Shore, Lord Fairfax, Mountain Empire, New River, Patrick Henry, Paul D. Camp, Rappahannock, Southside, Southwest Virginia, Virginia Highlands, Wytheville.

The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative (RVHI) seeks to address the lack of educational attainment across rural Virginia, where nearly one in four adults lack a high school education and fewer than one in five have a bachelor’s degree. The focus will be providing full-time career coaching assistance to middle majority students and those from underrepresented populations, who are often overlooked by traditional guidance counseling but are critically needed to provide a trained workforce in most rural areas.

The 10-year goal is to cut in half (one in eight) those lacking a high school diploma and double from 26 percent to 52 percent the population in rural Virginia holding an associate’s degree or other college certification.

“With one in four Virginians across parts of the state’s rural crescent having less than a high school education, preparing them for the jobs of the future is of paramount importance,” said Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “AT&T’s contribution will enable us to help more Virginians develop the skills necessary to compete in today’s ever-changing work environment.” Virginia State Senator Walter Stosch said the VA Rural Horseshoe Initiative not only helps individuals improve their skills, it also is an important economic development tool for rural communities.

“If students complete high school and develop new skills, they’ll be better prepared for jobs and opportunities – and employers will be more inclined to start or grow businesses in our rural communities because of the stronger pool of local talent,” said Stosch.  “AT&T’s contribution is a much-needed boost for this program.”

Vince Apruzzese, regional vice president for AT&T in Virginia, said the program will prepare students for success and help grow rural communities. “At AT&T, we see supporting education as investing in the future because a well-educated workforce may be the single most important thing businesses can do to help Virginia succeed in a digital, global economy,” said Apruzzese. “This contribution will provide VFCEE with the additional resources they need to help students complete high school, pursue college studies, and grow Virginia’s rural economies.”

Apruzzese added that the contribution is aligned with AT&T Aspire, one of the largest corporate commitments focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. In 2012, AT&T announced an additional quarter-billion-dollar expansion to the program, bringing the total commitment to $350 million since the program was launched in 2008. Learn more about AT&T Aspire by visiting www.att.com/aspire. Learn more about the Rural VA Horseshoe Initiative at http://www.vccs.edu/giving/rural-horseshoe-initiative/.

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Pictured in Photo:  VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois; Vince Apruzzese, regional vice president for AT&T in Virginia; Virginia Senator Walter Stosch; and former Governor Gerald Baliles, currently chair of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education display check for the foundation to benefit the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative.

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 a quarter-million credit students each year. For more information, please visit www.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 www.vccs.edu/giving.

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