PVCC to Help "At Risk" Local Students Prepare for College

January 27, 2011

Armed with a six-month $45,000 grant, Piedmont Virginia Community College is partnering with the Charlottesville and Albemarle school systems to help students currently enrolled in high school alternative programs prepare for success in college.

The initiative targets ninth through twelfth graders enrolled in Charlottesville City Schools’ WALK program and Albemarle County Public Schools’ Enterprise program, both of which provide nontraditional learning for students who are at-risk due to academic, social or socio-economic factors.

“Many alternative education students don’t transition into college,” explained John Donnelly, PVCC’s vice president for instruction and student services. “This partnership called Opportunity Pathways is committed to change that. The goal is to get these students on a successful path toward higher education and the better life that it can provide to them and their families.”

The intent of the initiative is for the majority of seniors who finish the WALK and Enterprise programs in June to have developed the confidence and motivation to succeed in college and have completed the college application and financial aid processes.

Participants who subsequently enroll for the fall 2010 semester at PVCC will receive additional follow-up support through specialized services at the college.

“Strategic partnerships are key to delivering the best educational services possible to the Charlottesville-Albemarle community,” said Chad Ratliff, assistant director of instruction with Albemarle County Public Schools. “As post-secondary certificates and degrees quickly become requisite for a livable income, we feel this project is a sustainable and scalable model for ensuring that students have access to options – both college and career – after they leave us. We’re excited to be a part of this team.”

Dianna Poe, Charlottesville City Schools’ intervention specialist for the WALK program commented, "This generous grant will bring the college application process into the classroom and help our students regard college as a reality and a goal beyond graduation from high school."

The Opportunity Pathways initiative is funded by a six-month nonrenewable competitive grant from the Virginia Community College System. If the initiative proves to be successful, PVCC plans to seek other sources of funding to sustain the program.

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