The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has awarded Thomas Nelson Community College’s Educational Foundation a $10,000 grant to help Hampton Roads residents complete a GED, enter college and get workforce credentials. The grant was awarded to the Thomas Nelson Middle College program, which serves underrepresented students ages 18-24 working to complete their high school equivalency, enroll in college courses and obtain career readiness and workforce training.
Middle College was initiated at Thomas Nelson in 2009 as a means of addressing the Virginia Peninsula’s high school dropout epidemic. Last year, the dropout rates in Hampton and Newport News were 15.6 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively – far exceeding the state’s rate of 5.9 percent. The Bank of America grant will expand the Middle College program for an additional 20 students. The funding is part of Bank of America’s intensified philanthropic focus on three core issues vital to the economic health of communities: housing, hunger and jobs.
Charlie Henderson, Hampton Roads market president, Bank of America, presented the $10,000 donation to Thomas Nelson President Dr. John Dever and Franz Albertini, Middle College director, during a visit to the college.
“We are proud to partner with Thomas Nelson Community College to help serve more students, offer occupational training and provide dedicated coaching for highly motivated youth,” said Henderson. “Middle College helps to address one of our community’s most critical issues: education and training for our future workforce.”
Since its founding at Thomas Nelson, Middle College has served 70 students annually. State funding for the program has decreased since then, resulting in a reduction to 50 students served during the 2013-14 school year. The Bank of America grant will allow Thomas Nelson’s Middle College to serve up to 20 more students, offering funding for tuition, books and training for the 2014-15 academic year.
“The donation from Bank of America will allow us to change lives and change the community. We will now be able to help our students succeed in the classroom and in their careers,” stated Albertini.
During the visit, Lebarbara Stephenson, a current medical office administration student and 2013 graduate of the Middle College program shared her experience with Henderson.
“I was searching for something, but never thought I would be in a program that worked so well for me,” stated Stephenson. “With the Middle College I gained the support and confidence I needed to continue in my college courses, especially in developing my writing skills. The Middle College opens doors for so many students. Education is important to me now. I live, breathe and sleep education now.”