Talk about good timing… Virginia’s Community Colleges will embark July 1 on a new six-year Strategic Plan with the following goal:
Virginia’s Community Colleges will achieve equity in access, learning outcomes, and success for students from every race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic group.
Also on July 1, state legislation goes into effect that will remove financial barriers for thousands of Virginians to attend community college.
The VCCS Strategic Plan is called Opportunity 2027. The new free community college initiative is called G3.
G3 (“Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back”) is one of Governor Ralph Northam’s signature legislative achievements. The plan will earmark $36 million in the budget year starting July 1 to provide free tuition and additional financial support for students who seek community college training in the fields of healthcare, information technology and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education, and public safety.
The program will be open to low and moderate income Virginians. In rough terms, someone could qualify coming from a family of four making about $100,000 per year.
“G3 is a step in the right direction toward a more equitable commonwealth,” wrote Dr. Anne Kress, president of Northern Virginia Community College and co-chair of the VCCS task force that developed the Opportunity 2027 Strategic Plan.”
Dr. Kress and J. Stephen Jones, president and CEO of Inova, the huge health care provider in Northern Virginia, co-authored an op-ed spotlighting the importance of the new financial aid to help people who suffered financially in the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pandemic highlighted that, for so many of our students, the ability to prioritize their education and their future is but one paycheck or financial emergency from being at risk,” Kress and Jones wrote.
Dr. Marcia Conston and Dr. John Downey, presidents at Tidewater and Blue Ridge Community Colleges, also played leadership roles in the Opportunity 2027 task force.
“We know that tuition, books, and associated fees are unimaginable expenses for low-and middle-income students who are struggling with many life issues,” said Dr. Conston. “The recently funded G3 program will support individuals with the greatest need by filling that critical gap between attaining an education and making ends meet. I am confident that G3 will be regarded as a national model for equity in higher education.”
“We will work to achieve equity through educational attainment,” said Dr. Downey. “G3 eliminates many of the financial barriers that prevented some students from pursuing a higher education or workforce training. With those barriers eliminated, students can concentrate on creating a better life for themselves.”
“And Virginia employers can find comfort in knowing that community colleges are working hard to produce the next generation of skilled employees in a wide range of high demand employment fields.”
Learn more about Opportunity 2027, the new Strategic Plan for Virginia’s Community Colleges here.
Read the governor’s news release about the G3 bill signing here.
You can watch a video of the G3 signing event here.