Last year, nonprofit organization Beacon of Hope launched the Promise Program, an educational incentive for all Lynchburg City Schools (LCS) high school students. The program offers the Stay Close, Go Far scholarship to all LCS students who choose to attend a college in the Lynchburg area after graduating. The Promise Program, which is expected to last from 2019 to 2024 (and potentially longer), will empower students who otherwise may not have the opportunity for higher education to do so, and therefore have a better chance at a rewarding career—all within the borders of the City of Lynchburg. With the success of the program so far, Lynchburg is poised to empower more young people prepared to fill jobs in the City and contribute to the success and growth of the area.
Results So Far
The effect of the Promise Program on local students has already been profound. In the LCS Class of 2019, almost 40 percent of students enrolled in local higher education programs with the help of the Stay Close, Go Far scholarship. Colleges receiving these students include CVCC, Centra College of Nursing, Liberty University, University of Lynchburg, Randolph College and Sweet Briar College. CVCC alone saw a 60 percent increase in enrollees, and about 60 percent of the LCS students who have taken this scholarship are first-generation college students or students who would be considered at an economic disadvantage.
The Promise program puts the City of Lynchburg on the map for investing in young people to receive higher education. These students will be better equipped for and more enthusiastic about future careers and existing businesses and City stakeholders can expect to be able to hire dedicated workers with the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen fields. Commonwealth of Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who is himself a first-generation college graduate, recently spoke to students at EC Glass High School about the program. The effect of this program will undoubtedly be positive for the City of Lynchburg citizens and businesses, as the pursuit of higher education translates to a healthier economy and continued growth within the City.
Investing Inward for a Bright Future
The Stay Close, Go Far scholarship is the first of its kind in Virginia. In empowering local teens to seek out higher education, whether through four-year degrees or technical/community college, Lynchburg officials and stakeholders hope to encourage them to seek their living in Lynchburg, rather than taking their skills elsewhere. As the City of Lynchburg continues to grow, our businesses need a pipeline of ready and willing employees. Due to the fact that college degrees are more important than ever to employers, this scholarship is a welcome ray of hope to the local community.
The scholarship opportunity offers up to $8,000 to students who choose Lynchburg higher education institutions, helping alleviate or even eliminate the funding gap that prevents so many from achieving their goals beyond grade school. Lynchburg City Schools Superintendent Dr. Crystal M. Edwards is encouraged by the program. “It’s a wonderful time to be a student in Lynchburg City. The support Beacon of Hope provides in partnership with LCS—both through the scholarships and the Future Centers—provides an amazing opportunity to take our students not just to graduation but beyond. That is what makes this initiative so unique and exciting.”
Students must first be accepted into area schools in order to obtain this scholarship, but officials hope that it will serve as a catalyst for LCS students to study hard and earn the opportunity. Students are also still required to fill out the FAFSA and take all other necessary steps to obtain financial aid. But with the Stay Close, Go Far scholarship as a last-dollar measure to fill the funding gap, students in the LCS system have a better chance than ever to get the education they need in order to live well and enjoy rewarding careers. It’s particularly exciting because one of the results of the scholarship is that newly-graduated students can potentially end up going to Central Virginia Community College for free.
With the Stay Close, Go Far scholarship already having a major impact on local college and trade school enrollment and attendance numbers, it’s looking like more Lynchburg residents than ever will have a chance to succeed. To learn more about the program, visit Beacon of Hope.