The Virginia College Fund Blog

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  • The VCF: 50 Years of “making a private college education affordable for Virginia’s students.”

    50th Anniversary Coin

    The Virginia College Fund (VCF) was founded in 1965 to assist the member schools with scholarship and general support. Originally named the Independent Junior Colleges of Virginia (IJCA) the nine private junior colleges included Averett College (all women), Bluefield College, Ferrum Junior College, Marymount College (all women), Shenandoah College, Southern Seminary Junior College (all women), Stratford College (all women), Sullins College and Virginia Intermont College (all women). In 1970, the name was changed to The Virginia College Fund as the schools began changing to four year, degree granting institutions. Eastern Mennonite University became a member in 1977. Since that time, several of the colleges and universities have moved to other affiliations, merged or ceased operations.

    As of June 1, 2015, the VCF’s 50th Year, the four co-education colleges and universities of The Virginia College Fund include Averett University in Danville, Virginia; Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia; Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia. The VCF headquarters is Richmond, Virginia and the mission of the VCF is “making a private, college education affordable for Virginia’s students.”

    We are proud of this landmark event. On behalf of the Presidents, Board of Directors and Staff, we thank you for your great generosity and interest in helping these institutions, their students and families make the dream of a college education possible.

    - Jim

  • 2013-2014 Year in Review

    Dear Friends of the Fund:

    We have just completed our 48th year! I wanted to take a moment to share our progress, as well as our plans for 2014-2015. The 48th Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors was held at Shoemakers in the Craddock Terry Hotel, in Lynchburg, on June 24, 2014. Following the Annual Meeting, the VCF hosted its Lynchburg Area Appreciation Luncheon at Shoemakers American Grill. Many friends, board members and supporters of the fund were able to attend. If you haven’t been to the Craddock Terry or Shoemakers, I highly recommend it. We are very thankful to those who could join us and also to our sponsors, Mr. Rick Loving, the Retail Merchants Association and MH West & Co. Rick Loving has been one of our luncheon sponsors for the last 8 years, while Debbie Montgomery, Executive Director of the Retail Merchants Association has been a sponsor for 11 years. The longevity of their support has made a lasting impact on our presence in the Lynchburg Area. MH West is a new “Friend to the Fund” and we look forward to a long relationship with them.
    Overall, in 2013-14 we succeeded in our mission of “making a private, college education affordable for Virginia’s students”. The VCF raised $736,658.07 or an average of $147,331 per school. This is one of the highest returns on investment of any private college funds in the U.S. We are thankful for all of our many supporters. Please see the contributors tab for a list of our donors. We appreciate your support and more importantly so do the students who desire a college education!
    As we go forward into 2014-2015 we will do so without some familiar faces. In March we lost board member Dr. Benjamin J. Lambert, III. Benny contributed to the VCF for over 20 years and for many of those years served as a board member. Benny was a local optometrist and former legislator in the Virginia House of Delegates. We also lost board member and long time benefactor Mr. Guy E. Beatty. Guy grew up in Southside Virginia but made his mark in real estate and development in the Northern Virginia market. Guy also funded the Virginia College Fund annually through both personal and corporate gifts. He was the major funder of the Will Pearson Scholarship Fund and was the first person to have his name added to the Virginia College Fund Legacy Society. We miss these two gentlemen, visionaries and supporters and will be forever grateful for their service and support. Our greatest loss, however, was losing one of our member schools. Virginia Intermont College, founded in 1884 as a two year women's college, shut its doors on May 4th and officially left the VCF on June the 24th. We are saddened by this loss, but will move forward stronger and more resilient!
    Our 49th year is looking very promising! We received our first cornerstone gift for our endowment from Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Christian. We will be looking for several more cornerstone gifts to perpetuate the VCF and take us into the future. We have strong leadership on our Board of Directors, in the colleges we represent, and our wonderful supporters like you! One clear initiative is to increase our presence in Northern Virginia where twenty percent of our enrollment comes from. Finally, if we don’t say it enough, Thank You, for your support of the Virginia College Fund! Our students include 72% Virginia residents of which 71% receive some financial aid, 49% who are low to moderate income, 28% who are first generation and over 23% who come from a minority background. These, more than most, need your support to achieve their dream of a college education.
    I hope to see you soon and to thank you in person for your continued support. Have a wonderful summer and know that the Virginia College Fund is very thankful for you and the organizations you represent!
    Sincerely,
    Jim
    James K. Dill, President

  • Higher Education in 2014

    I was intrigued by the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Higher Education Summit on January 26th, 2014. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/higher-education) Many of the topics discussed are issues that the schools of the Virginia College Fund have provided solutions for over 100 years. It is somewhat coincidental, but also wonderful to hear that our new Governor has made higher education attainment a priority.
    In the White House report, the number one objective is “connecting more low-income students to colleges where they can succeed and encouraging completion once they arrive on campus”. We do that! The schools of the VCF in many cases provide the best opportunity for first generation students, students from low-income families as well as minority students. The VCF colleges, because of their smaller size and geographic location have helped these students adjust to college life and facilitated their graduation.
    Just this week, one of the VCF schools, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA was host to another Richmond based nonprofit, Partnership for the Future or PFF (www.partnershipforthefuture.org). PFF helps a select group of city and county students with limited resources transition from high school to college and employment through hands on teaching, coaching and mentoring. I was told that several of the students applied to EMU on the spot!
    The Virginia College Fund was originally the Virginia Foundation for Independent Community Colleges and included seven private community colleges across the state. Over time, these schools became four year programs and the Virginia College Fund was born (1970). For many students, these institutions were the first opportunity for a college degree. Over the past 50 years, our mission has remained the same; providing an affordable, private college education for Virginia’s students. The outcome has been over $20,000,000.00 raised and distributed to the colleges for scholarship and grants. The Commonwealth of Virginia has also benefited with a better skilled and better paid workforce. The U.S. Dept. of Labor has shown that a college degree effectively doubles an individual’s income over their lifetime.
    We are very proud of our schools, our students and the legacy that the Virginia College Fund has created. Our current statistics include (average):
    • 27% minority students
    • 33% first generation
    • 49% low-to-moderate income
    We hope you will join us in our mission of making a private, college education affordable for Virginia’s students. The VCF would like to thank President Obama, the First Lady and Gov. Terry McAuliffe for their commitment to higher education.

  • In Memorium: Guy Beatty Friend, Board Member & Philanthropist

    This has been a sad week for the Virginia College Fund. We found out about the loss of our friend, long time board member and benefactor, Mr. Guy E. Beatty, Jr.

    Mr. Beatty’s life journey is a great story and we have been privileged to be a part of it. Many years ago, one of my predecessors called on Guy and asked for a donation to help students of need. The small donation was given and subsequent donations in years after as well. Along the way, Mr. Beatty joined our Board of Directors, and his commitment both as member and as donor increased significantly. Over his lifetime Mr. Beatty donated a very large sum of money to help support our mission of making a private, college education affordable. Perhaps more important, he took on causes such as the care and treatment of my predecessor, Dr. Will Pearson when he came down with colon cancer and also made it a passion to help Ferrum College build a rural medical clinic on their campus. Guy liked to say, "This is God's money, not mine...I've been put in the position to help others and give them an opportunity they may not have otherwise had."

    We will miss our friend greatly but we are also assured that he is in a better place and at rest. Thank you Guy Beatty for all you have done and continue to do!

    Jim Dill
    President
    The Virginia College Fund

  • Practicing the Mission

    Just this morning, I was reading a devotion prior to work, and it suggested, “taking time to appreciate the little things (a break, a good cup of coffee, laughter) that are often missed”. It is good to do but sometimes hard to practice. My day is often filled with scheduling appointments, running the office, or running out to make calls and always feeling pressure to raise more funds. It’s a great job and noble work for the five colleges in the VCF, so I don’t mind at all. But I did get to take one of those, “Ahhh” moments recently when the mission and vision of the fund became crystal clear.

    Partnership for the Future (PFF) helps motivated high school students with limited resources transition from high school to college and employment, so they can become successful, contributing members of our community (www.partnershipforthefuture.org). The students in the program have the chance to earn funds for the future, receive mentorship and internships and visit the colleges and universities of Virginia. Their mission is very close to our mission so the VCF and PFF partnered for a day with a Richmond based College Fair.

    The 40+ junior’s from local high schools were energized and engaged and it was easy to see that the PFF program was creating a great rising senior class of high achievers. The college admission staff from the five VCF schools greatly enjoyed meeting and interacting with the students as well. The VCF schools are all about access and opportunity, and the program with the PFF reinforced this concept to me.

    It was refreshing to take a few moments from the job-at-hand and be a part of something greater, something energizing: giving young minds new ideas and opportunities! Have a wonderful summer.

    jim