~ Press release issued by Laurel Ridge Community College
Students experiencing food and housing insecurity and other needs will benefit from an $8,500 grant awarded to the Laurel Ridge Community College Educational Foundation by the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.
The grant will support the college’s Single Stop initiative. Single Stop is a screener tool designed to connect students with assistance programs at the local, state and federal levels. Nearly 10,000 students in the Virginia Community College System have been connected with more than $21 million in benefits so far this year.
The importance of hooking up eligible students with available assistance was driven home by a recent report conducted by the University of Texas, Austin, that found 20 percent of community college students skipped or cut back on meals in the previous month due to a lack of money, and nearly one-third ran out of food during the month. Additionally, more than 25 percent of students couldn’t fully pay their rent or mortgage, with 28 percent being unable to fully pay their utility bills.
Laurel Ridge will use part of the funds from the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to develop materials to help students participating in workforce programs gain access to college resources, including Single Stop and TimelyCare, a free 24/7 tele-mental health service. The funding will also help expand the college’s textbook lending library, and will bolster Laurel Ridge’s emergency aid capability for assisting students with urgent housing, transportation and child care needs.
“We know there is more to academic success than just classroom experiences,” said Dr. Caroline Wood, associate vice president of student services and academic support. “At Laurel Ridge, we strive to work holistically with our students in all areas to ensure they have the resources and support they need to be successful. Thanks to this generous grant from Anthem, our students will continue to receive the highest level of service from the college.”
The grant to Laurel Ridge is part of a $125,000 donation to 14 community colleges making up the “Rural Horseshoe” in Virginia. This horseshoe stretches from the Eastern Shore, to Southside and southwestern Virginia and up through the Shenandoah Valley. This rural arc of Virginia, while making up 75 percent of the state’s land, lags in income and education levels in comparison to the rest of the state.
Nationwide, the Anthem Foundation grant is part of a $30 million initiative spread across three years in support of programs designed to improve public health through nutrition.
For more information about Laurel Ridge Community College, visit their WEBSITE.