November 19, 2013
Michael A. Smith and Valley Proteins, Inc. Make Record Donation to VFCCE
$2 million gift leads Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative Fundraising
RICHMOND – Michael A. Smith and Valley Proteins, Inc., the family-owned company Smith operates with his brother, Gerald F. Smith, Jr., are each donating $1 million to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE). The combined $2 million gift – among the largest ever made to a foundation supporting Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) – becomes the lead gift for the foundation’s Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative.
“We are proud to say that we were born and raised here. The people and communities of the region have contributed to our family’s company ever since our grandfather opened it for business shortly after World War II. We believe in rural Virginia. That is why we are strategically investing in a plan to help bring rural Virginia back,” said Michael A. Smith, who also serves as the chair of the VFCCE.
RURAL VIRGINIA HORSESHOE INITIATIVE
The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative, which will benefit from the gift, is a partnership between 14 Virginia community colleges, their foundations and the VFCCE. The ten-year initiative will help middle class families who mistakenly believe education past high school is out of reach; foster youth who are most at-risk; and adults who failed to finish high school but need money to pay for workforce training beyond a G.E.D.
“This is a transformative gift for our young statewide foundation. It comes from an employer with deep roots in Virginia. It is a validation of what our community colleges can do to ensure Virginia companies succeed and that every Virginia family can obtain the opportunity that higher education provides,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.
A LEGACY OF GENEROUS INVESTMENTS
The $2 million gift is the latest in a series of significant investments that Valley Proteins has made in the VFCCE. That includes the Valley Proteins Endowment Fund that began awarding an annual grant in 2007 to support workforce development programs at Virginia’s Community Colleges in the areas of environmental science, commercial truck driving, heating and air conditioning, and office technology in regions where the company conducts its rendering operations.
The company has also funded the VFCCE’s Valley Proteins Fellows Program for three years. The fellowships, awarded to extraordinary second-year students attending a Virginia Community College include up to $5,000 for tuition, books, fees and expenses. In addition, the Fellows Program provides recipients with the opportunity to participate in unique academic and leadership opportunities.
“We are so grateful for the generosity and leadership Mike Smith and Valley Proteins have provided our foundation,” said Jennifer Gentry, VCCS vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement. “With their partnership we are making a difference for families across Virginia, and giving people the skills and knowledge they need to find success. This gift continues that work in a truly significant way.”
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; helping more Virginia foster youth pursue and complete higher education through its Great Expectations program; and leading a partnership to improve rural Virginia’s education pipeline through the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu/Foundation.
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 more than 400,000 credit and non-credit students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.
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