When thinking of economic barriers associated with college, the cost of tuition and books are typically the first expenses that come to mind. Sadly, some of the largest financial obstacles prospective students face when weighing the affordability of education are much more essential than that—those obstacles are meeting the basic needs of food and housing.
How can a working adult, already struggling to maintain these two necessities, even consider that attending college to build viable career skills is even an option? Thanks to kind gifts from the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation and The Anthem Foundation, two new initiatives driven by the VFCCE are alleviating the challenge of meeting these basic needs and are turning educational and career dreams into attainable goals for many.
The Gilliam Foundation gift expanded the support provided by the Great Expectations program by enabling the VFCCE to double the number of qualified students receiving housing assistance in southwestern Virginia. According to The National Alliance to End Homelessness, nearly 50% of young people formerly in foster care will experience homelessness between the ages of 18 and 25. The Gilliam Foundation and the VFCCE aim to greatly reduce that percentage by helping Great Expectations students find and secure safe housing so that they can better focus on their futures.
The Anthem Foundation provided a grant targeted at establishing new food pantries and expanding the services of those already operating in Virginia Community Colleges. To date, 11 community colleges in the Commonwealth’s Rural Horseshoe region provide food assistance to students. Anthem Foundation funds will directly address hunger by helping to increase the number of colleges with food pantries by 33%.
While both grants help to make an immediate and measurable difference in helping current students meet the basic needs essential to success, statistics show that future students will be faced with overcoming the same challenges. Because socioeconomic changes in these communities evolve slowly, continued fundraising will further propel these newly established initiatives and help support educational achievement for years to come.
If you’d like to help students reach their goals by alleviating hunger and homelessness, you can make an impact by contributing to these programs through the VFCCE by selecting “Greatest Need.”