Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year – a time for family, food and fun. It is also a time to pause for a moment and acknowledge the other things in life for which we are truly thankful.
I am extremely thankful to be continuing my involvement in the field of education through my service on the board of Northern Virginia Community College. In this role, I have had the opportunity to work with exceptional educators and support staff at the college – those who dedicate their lives to bettering the educational opportunities for others throughout our region.
We should all be thankful for the service of these individuals and for the college which has served our region in an exemplary fashion since its founding in 1964. With more than 80,000 students currently enrolled, the college continues to provide outstanding educational opportunities in both degree seeking and workforce skill development for its students. Their website is www.nvcc.edu.
In addition to the college itself, I am thankful for four organizations for their support of the college and its amazing students. These nonprofits vary in size and length of involvement with the college, but all play a critical role in the success of the students they support. And while there are a number of other organizations supporting NOVA students, I highlight these four as I am directly involved with each, either through board membership or fundraising campaign support.
The NOVA Foundation, founded in 1979, is the primary philanthropic arm for the college. The Foundation raises funds to close the gap between government funding and tuition and aids the programs and services that make NOVA the critical institution it is in the region. Specifically, the Foundation provides scholarship funding for tuition, course-related expenses and emergency student aid. On average, the Foundation provides approximately 500 scholarships a year equal to about $600,000 in funding. See https://giving.nvcc.edu/ for more information.
Founded in 1986, the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has supported graduates of Alexandria City High School by providing scholarship support for up to four years of post-secondary education at institutions of higher learning across the country.
Approximately 420 ACHS graduates in June 2021 were awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships, with an estimated one-third of these recipients attending NOVA. In addition, the Fund provides college advising and financial aid services to students attending ACHS. See www.alexscholarshipfund.org.
The Arlington-based Dream Project seeks to empower students whose immigration status creates barriers to a college education by helping them access and experience success in school. The program assists students in the region through scholarships, a mentoring program, family engagement opportunities and advocacy.
In May 2021, the Dream Project awarded 100 scholarships of $2,500 each, which are renewable annually throughout a student’s undergraduate program. Of last year’s new recipients, 51% are attending NOVA. In addition, the Dream Project supported students impacted by the pandemic through an Emergency Relief Fund which has provided more than $94,000 in emergency aid since 2020, with $15,800 going directly to NOVA students. See www.dreamproject-va.org/.
Educational Opportunities for Alexandrians was founded in 2018 by a small group of Alexandrians intent on providing “fullride” scholarship support to ACHS graduates attending NOVA. This support includes payment of tuition and fees and provides an allocation for books and materials for up to two years of study at the college.
Like the Dream Project, EOA is designed to assist students whose immigration status is a barrier to continuing their education. Currently, EOA is supporting six students in their full-time attendance at NOVA. See www.educationalopportunitiesforalexandrians.org.
I would be extremely thankful if you consider support for these and other organizations which provide support for students to fulfill their dreams.
The writer is the former principal of T.C. Williams High School, now called Alexandria City High School, from 1984 to 2006. He currently serves as Alexandria’s representative to the Northern Virginia Community College Board.