The grant helps local college students access resources
Published 2:17 PM Friday, November 25, 2022
Because of a recent grant, Virginia community colleges are better able to help their students get the resources they need. For readers Herald’s Service area primarily affecting attendees at Southside Virginia Community College’s Cumberland site, as well as local residents attending Central Virginia Community College in Appomattox.
On Saturday, November 19, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation awarded $125,000 to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. This money is used to help students get the resources they need as they continue their education through Single Stop.
Single Stop is a program that works with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to give its students easier access to public services and community resources they may not know qualify for. This is an easy way to help students get help with food insecurity, housing, or finances because it connects students to federal, state, and local programs.
According to VCCS, Single Stop has already been used by over 9,700 Virginia Community College students statewide, earning them over $21 million in benefits to which they are entitled.
“Single Stop allows students to inform the school of their needs,” said Leslie Perkins. She works as a college navigator at Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC). “Many students are unaware of what resources are out there, and this program helps them find out what additional help they can get. It also helps break the stigma of asking for help.”
According to SVCC executive director Mary Elkins, the school has resources, including its pantry, to help the students as best it can. However, with Single Stop, they can help students with issues like housing when they don’t have the resources but connect students with those who do.
This grant will also help go beyond Single Spot with other food initiatives at the 14 Virginia Community Colleges in the rural Horseshoe, including Southside Virginia Community College. This refers to the rural Virginia arc, which represents three-fourths of Virginia’s geography, where income and education levels lag behind the rest of the Commonwealth.
According to Perkins, this grant will also be used for other initiatives, including creating holiday-season grocery baskets for students who need them. She is also pleased to see other students getting involved to help with the organization and to help their classmates.
The grant is part of a nationwide project by the Anthem Foundation to help individuals achieve optimal health through good nutrition through their $30 million, three-year Food As Medicine initiative.
“It’s hard to focus on your studies when you’re struggling to pay for food, housing, childcare, transportation and other basic needs,” said Jennifer Sager-Gentry, executive director of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, which accepted the donation on behalf of Virginia’s community colleges. “Anthem has helped strengthen our college food supplies and other emergency food services over the past several years, and we are very grateful for their continued support for our students, including this year.”