The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative (RVHI) is an exciting new pilot program from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education and the VCCS to raise the educational attainment rates of those living in rural parts of Virginia and better prepare them for the jobs of the future. Seven of Virginia’s Community Colleges are taking part in the effort.
The Rural Horseshoe refers to the 75% of Virginia that lies in rural areas. This area spreads from the Eastern Shore, down through Southside Virginia, through Southwest Virginia and up the Shenandoah Valley. Educational attainment levels in this area are significantly lower than any other parts of the state, where 1 in 4 people have less than a high school education, compared with 1 in 8 in the rest of the state.
One of the strategies of RVHI is to fund full-time career coaches in high schools across rural Virginia. Providing incentives to recent GED completers and expanding the Great Expectations program are the two other strategies that RVHI will employ to move the needle on high school completion and postsecondary credentialing.
This August, training for career coaches for the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative began. The two full-time coaches from New River Community College, Ms. Kathy Kleppin and Dr. Margaret Sproule attended the training. Together they serve over 2,300 high school students.
Ms. Kleppin noted that she does see the disparity between plans for post high school life between students in the rural areas and other parts of Virginia. She stated that the goals of the RVHI fell right in line with her high school’s goals for their students. Two of the highlights of the training for her were the focus on parental support in postsecondary education and the creation of more experiential learning opportunities for students.
To learn more about the RVHI, visit their website.
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