FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2014
Bill Bolling Joins Rural Virginia Education Partnership
RICHMOND, Va. – Former Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling is joining the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. Bolling will co-chair the effort’s steering committee along with Robert Harrell of Suffolk.
“I grew up in a rural community, and I feel passionately about the need to provide better educational opportunities for young people in the rural parts of our state,” Bolling said. “That’s what the Rural Horseshoe Initiative is all about, and I look forward to continuing my work in public service by serving as co- chair of this tremendous partnership and helping achieve their important goals.”
The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative is a partnership between the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), 14 Virginia community colleges and their respective foundations to increase educational attainment in Virginia’s rural regions. Last fall the effort earned a $2 million lead gift from a third-generation Virginia business, Valley Proteins, Inc. and one of its owners, Michael Smith.
“We are grateful for the passion, experience and perspective that Bill Bolling will bring to this effort,” said former Gov. Gerald Baliles, chair of the VFCCE. “From his roots, growing up in the coalfields of southwest Virginia, to his work as lieutenant governor to increase job opportunities across the commonwealth, Bill understands how vital it is for every Virginian to have access to the knowledge and skills that 21st century jobs demand. I am looking forward to working with him in this role.”
Rural Virginia, which includes the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore, Southside, Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, has a population of 2.1 million people. If it were its own state, it would rank 50th in the nation in the percentage of people who hold a college degree; the rest of Virginia would rank number two. Likewise, nearly one in four people in rural Virginia lack a high school diploma. That compares to one in ten for the rest of Virginia.
The initiative focuses on two goals. The first is to cut in half the current percentage of rural Virginia’s population without a high school diploma, or equivalent. The second is to double the number of people in rural Virginia who hold a workforce credential or an associate’s degree from 26 percent to 53 percent. The ten-year initiative will help middle class families who mistakenly believe education past high school is out of reach and adults who failed to finish high school but need money to pay for workforce training beyond a G.E.D.
Bolling, who chaired the Governor’s Rural Jobs Council in 2013, is joining a team that is brimming with business, public service and community leaders from across Virginia. The steering committee includes:
John “Jay” Adams
Jean Clary Bagley
The Honorable Gerald L. Baliles
The Honorable Bob Bloxom
The Honorable Bill Bolling, Co-chair
Carthan Currin, III
Ben Davenport, Jr.
The Honorable Barnie Day
John Hardesty, Jr.
William C. Hall, Jr.
The Honorable Eva T. Hardy
Robert W. Harrell, Jr., Co-chair
The Honorable Charles Hawkins
The Honorable Jack Kennedy
The Honorable Jerry Kilgore
Jeffery K. Mitchell
The Honorable David Nutter
Joe Philpott, Jr.
Gerald “J.J.” Smith, Jr.
D. Coleman Speece
Lucia Anna (Pia) Trigiani
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve approximately 400,000 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 http://www.vccs.edu/giving.