My View with John Porter: An investment that generates a triple return

My View with John Porter: An investment that generates a triple return
John Porter

Triple return? Sounds too good to be true, but it actually is.

The Northern Virginia Community College Educational Foundation, dedicated to providing support to our amazing community college, has proven to be an exceptional resource for students, staff and the broader NOVA community since its founding in 1979. Donor contributions have a direct three-fold impact by providing scholarship support to students in need of assistance, by advancing opportunities for the families of students because of their increased education and work force preparation and thereby, for our region as NOVA students stay in the area, enter the workforce and support our economy.

The onset of the pandemic resulted in the opportunity for the foundation to expand support to students, as many found themselves in more dire financial situations, which not only impacted their ongoing education but, more importantly, their day-to-day existence.

A recent study by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice surveyed 200,000 community college students in 42 states, confirming the massive impact of the pandemic and revealing that three in five community college students were experiencing basic insecurities in areas such as food, housing and essential services.

The NOVA Foundation’s response was quick and impactful, providing nearly 1,500 grant awards of $500 each directly to students before federal funds were announced. The foundation’s grants went to support children and families during the crisis.

As we have worked our way through the pandemic, the foundation has provided additional opportunities to support students. Partnering with NOVA’s Financial Stability and Advocacy Center, the foundation established a savings challenge for students to stress the importance of saving for emergencies. The challenge provided up to a $250 match for students who participate in the program. The foundation made a commitment of $50,000 as this program moves forward.

Additionally, the NOVA Foundation was pleased to launch the Career & Leadership Readiness Institute with a 2020-2021 InNOVAtion grant of $8,100. This pilot program offered NOVA students opportunities to develop and enhance their career and leadership readiness skills to be more competitive and effective job candidates. While more than 500 students participated in one or more program opportunities, 35 completed the full CLRI program, which involved industry partners such as Comcast, Inova, Leidos, Prism, Squadron Defense, Sure Secure and Volvo.

The Foundation extends its financial support to NOVA’s employees as well through the InNOVAtion Grants Program, with more than $66,000 awarded this past year to support faculty and staff grants designed to promote student success. The faculty/staff grants program has proven to be a welcomed and much needed addition to the overall support provided to the college.

The NOVA Educational Foundation has had a critical impact since its launch more than 40 years ago, but it continues to seek more and better ways to support students, staff and the broader NOVA community. The foundation’s ability to provide the ongoing support for which it is known while quickly adapting to changing needs during the global pandemic has made it an invaluable resource to the college and to the community. With NOVA being a workforce development engine for our region, the importance of a continued positive collaboration between the college and the foundation is paramount to the success of all who are served.

To continue its exceptional work, the NOVA Foundation seeks support from corporations, local businesses and individuals who desire to help our community and to help individual students struggling to advance through education or secure jobready skills to enhance their opportunities in the workforce.

To learn more about the NOVA Educational Foundation, go to to see how you can help. Together, we can have an impact – we can make a difference.

The writer is the former principal of T. C. Williams High School from 1984 to 2006. He currently serves as Alexandria’s representative to the Northern Virginia Community College Board.