SVCC Offers 'Finish Line' For Those With Partial College Credit

Published 3:10 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Residents in Southside Virginia with partial college credit will have another opportunity to earn a degree or other college credential through a new community outreach project called “Finish Line.” With approximately $165,000 in funding from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, the New College Institute (NCI) in Martinsville, has partnered with three community colleges, Danville (DCC), Patrick Henry (PHCC) and Southside Virginia (SVCC), along with other higher education entities and community organizations to offer this new initiative.

The purpose of Finish Line, a two-year project, will be to identify and inform students who are within 15 credit hours of receiving an associate degree to provide a pathway to completing the degree, many of whom would transfer into a baccalaureate program. Others would have credentials to enter the workforce in critical fields such as advanced manufacturing technicians and health care workers.

Governor Bob McDonnell kicked off the celebration for this new collaboration along the Route 58 corridor Aug. 23. Linked electronically, the kick off sites included PHCC's Frith Economic Development Center Conference Room, DCC's Silverman Auditorium in Foundation Hall, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center's Innovation Center Conference Room in South Boston, and Southside Virginia Education Center of SVCC in Emporia. The announcement concluded in the Virginia Community College System offices in Richmond with Interim Secretary of Education Dr. Laura Fornash and VCCS Chancellor Dr. Glenn DuBois.

In addition, the kickoff celebration at each of the community college sites included area school division leaders, business, governmental and legislative representatives, as well as representatives from Chambers of Commerce and economic development offices. Other educational partners participating in the collaboration include: Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC – South Boston), Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (Danville), New College Institute (Martinsville), Averett University, Ferrum College, Longwood University, St. Paul's College and Virginia State University.

The impetus for the Finish Line initiative is based in part on recommendations of Governor Bob McDonnell's Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment for 100,000 more degrees. It is estimated that more than 900,000 Virginians (21% of all working -age Virginias) currently have some partial college credit. In addition, the Virginia Business Higher Education Council also made similar recommendations in its Grow By Degrees Coalition, which is comprised of business and economic development leaders who promote investment in higher education to make Virginia a national and international leader in attracting new business investment, research grants, and job opportunities.

In the Southside Virginia region, there are approximately 41,000 individuals who may benefit from the Finish Line project. The three community colleges have each hired Community Outreach Specialists who will be responsible for coordinating the program in their respective areas. The project will continue through 2013. Project goals include: Establishing a regional public-private Higher Education Consortia to include identifying potential students. Utilizing the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's data system to also identify potential students via zip codes. Expand use of Experiential and Portfolio Learning. Promote Degrees that Appeal to Prospective Students Develop a Communications Campaign that will be regional in focus and scope. Provide Financial Incentive Program such as scholarships to assist in completing a credential.

For more information about Finish Line, contact the respective community colleges or Barbara Waldron, NCI, Coordinator of Recruitment and Information, at 276-403-5635; email