United Way of Southwest Virginia investing in the region’s workforce of tomorrow

Abingdon, VA (September 24, 2019) – United Way of Southwest Virginia continues the innovative fight for positive, lasting social changes in the region through the organization’s Ignite program.  Ignite is connecting Southwest Virginia students to our regional employers through the annual Careers Expo for Youth.

This year the Careers Expo for Youth took place on September 24 and 25 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. During the two-day event, over 4,720 seventh-grade students across Southwest Virginia navigated through four zones filled with hands-on career activities, all led by over 60 industry professionals from the region. Each employer had the unique opportunity to engage students through conversation and demonstration during their five-minute hands-on learning activity.

Marcus Thompson, communications manager of Volvo Trucks stated, “The Careers Expo for Youth is an energizing and truly defining career exploration option for students in the region. We are thrilled to participate and share what Volvo Trucks consists of with thousands of students across Southwest Virginia.”

During some of the career activities, students were able to participate in virtual reality simulators, understand the mechanics behind robotics and manufacturing, and even experience what a day in the life of a first responder looks like.

“This component of our organization’s Ignite program allows students in the region to see first-hand what it’s like to work within these companies, ultimately sparking career interest in Southwest Virginia’s workforce of tomorrow,” said Travis Staton, president and ceo of United Way of Southwest Virginia.

Photo credit Earl Neikirk


United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.  Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change.  With a footprint that covers nearly 20% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford.


The United Way of Southwest Virginia Ignite Program sparks career interest in the next generation of Southwest Virginia’s workforce through career awareness and skill development. The program helps bridge the gap between the worlds of learning and work by connecting schools and students with employers and employees. Across the United Way of Southwest Virginia service area, the Ignite Program is investing in the lives of over 30,000 students – enabling middle school and high school students to realize their potential and be ready to enter and advance in the region’s workforce.