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Community Foundation announces partnership aimed at continuing education

Edited by Chris Graham

The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge is pleased to announce a new partnership with Great Aspirations Scholarship Program Inc., a Virginia-based nonprofit charitable organization funded by school systems, foundations, businesses and individual donors that assists students and families obtain funding for post-secondary education.

GRASP strives to provide every high school student with an equal opportunity for continuing education, regardless of financial or social circumstances. Founded in 1983 by Virginia State Sen. Walker Stosch and Dr. Raymond Garguilo, it helps students develop educational plans for after high school by placing a financial aid advisor in each school (one day per week for the school year) to work alongside school staff to leverage financial aid opportunities for colleges and trade schools.

“The Community Foundation already administers over 25 educational scholarship funds in addition to our award programs, like the Dawbarn Education Awards. This partnership with GRASP will facilitate a new way for us to make a measurable and meaningful educational impact,” says Becky Kohler, President/CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are always looking for ways to collaborate, whether with individual donors or organizations, to bring more educational opportunities to students in our area,” says Kohler. “By sponsoring this program, we can bring a proven educational funding model to the area. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; GRASP already has an extremely effective program in place,” says Kohler.

Last year, each dollar invested in GRASP’s in-school advisor program leveraged $114 in financial aid for GRASP students, amounting to $31.3 million in financial aid and scholarships.

The Community Foundation and GRASP hope to provide financial aid advisors to the following area high schools for the 2010-2011 school year: Robert E. Lee High School, Waynesboro High School, Wilson Memorial High School, Stuarts Draft High School, Fort Defiance High School, Highland County High School, Buffalo Gap High School, Nelson County High School, and Riverheads High School.

“We are seeing an amazing response from our existing donors – within two weeks of announcing our partnership with GRASP, we have already raised more than $10,000,” says Kohler. “Part of our mission is to inspire philanthropy in our region, and this is an excellent way for first time donors to make a huge difference for young people,” states Kohler.

The Community Foundation’s goal is to see the GRASP program in place for the 2010-2011 school year for all the high schools in our area. To accomplish this ambitious goal, the Foundation must secure donations by June 30th. To inquire about making a donation to the GRASP program or to help underwrite a financial aid advisor position at an area high school, please contact Becky Kohler at the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge at (540) 213-2150.

augusta free press
augusta free press