Early last year, the Patrick County Education Foundation (PCEF) adopted a goal to raise funds for a scholarship called the Patrick County Promise. When met, the Promise program would completely cover the tuition, textbooks, and fees for every high school graduate in Patrick County to get a two-year degree at Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC).
The initial estimate for financing this goal was $2 million dollars.
At the PCEF’s last board meeting, P&HCC’s president Dr. Greg Hodges shared some good news –new data that the foundation expects will make the goal much more attainable. According to the college’s data, nearly half (48 percent) of the Patrick County students currently enrolled at P&HCC already have their tuition covered.
The foundation would now need to raise the funds to cover only the remaining 52 percent, or about $44,000.
To understand how this change is possible, a little background may be helpful.
In 2021, Virginia allocated $36 million to create a statewide program called G3 (which stands for “Get Skilled. Get a Job. Get Ahead”) The G3 program covers tuition, fees, and books and provides wraparound support for students pursuing an in-demand field. The state outlined a long list of programs that qualify as “in demand.” To be eligible, students could pursue essentially almost any degree or credential within the health care, information technology, skilled trades, public safety, or early childhood education fields.
With G3, the state would cover tuition for a significant swath of Patrick County students. Students covered by G3 would not need the Patrick County Promise because tuition, books, and fees are already covered.
Another group of students also would be already covered. Although the Harvest Foundation can serve only those within its service region—which is Martinsville and Henry County—the agency’s generosity is having a positive, tertiary impact on Patrick County students because most of the seniors in Martinsville and Henry County have their tuition covered by Harvest, additional resources are available for Patrick County students. More than 200 scholarships are offered through the P&HCC Foundation annually, and many are now being awarded to Patrick County students.
What is the big takeaway from all of this? Two things. First, many Patrick County students are already able to get credentials or a degree from P&HCC for free. Secondly, the new $44,000 goal needed for the Patrick County Promise seems more attainable.
“The Patrick County Education Foundation Board, through the Patrick County Promise, is promoting that economic success and education are inextricably interwoven,” said Stewart Roberson, chairman of the Patrick foundation. “We are fortunate that the stars are aligning for all of Patrick County’s high school graduates to imagine a tuition-free college experience in their first two years. We are very, very close to assuring that this vision becomes a reality. Thanks to the entire community for your devotion and interest in closing this much smaller gap.”
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Patrick County Promise may visit http://patrickhenryfoundation.com/. Simply click “donate now” and select “Patrick County Promise” in the “Designated Gifts” menu.
Donors are may contact Tiffani Underwood, executive director of the P&HCC Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or (276) 656-0281.