United Way of SWVA receives Governor’s Award in education

McAuliffe recognizes United Way’s efforts to prepare students for future workforce

Abingdon, VA (November 7, 2017) – United Way of Southwest Virginia is one of the inaugural recipients of the Governor’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in Education.

This new initiative by the governor recognizes outstanding educators and leaders, schools, divisions, and community partners across five categories: closing the achievement gap, community partnerships and collaboration, innovation in education, preparing students for the new Virginia economy; and supporting school readiness. Out of more than 120 nominations, United Way of Southwest Virginia was selected for recognition and honored at the Executive Mansion on October 26, 2017.

“Over the last four years, my administration has worked hard to reduce the achievement gap, improve accountability, and expand opportunities for career exposure and experiential learning in our public schools. These individuals, schools, divisions and partners are at the forefront of that effort, and I applaud their willingness to think outside the box and boldly try new things,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Excellent education is the key to unlocking the potential in our children, our commonwealth, and the new Virginia economy.”

“Every day, Virginia’s education professionals make incredible contributions to our communities and students,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “This new award is one small way we can recognize their commitment to providing their students with everything they need to succeed in school and in life.”

United Way of Southwest Virginia received the award for “Preparing Students for the New Virginia Economy”, recognizing the United Way of Southwest Virginia Ignite Program.

Together with dozens of community partners, United Way of Southwest Virginia is addressing the problems facing tomorrow’s workforce through initiatives spanning from cradle to career, creating opportunities for youth who are ready to enter and advance in the region’s workforce. The Ignite Program—was created in 2016 to fill a community void in response to the gap between learning and work, and focuses on hands-on learning and career awareness. The initiative serves more than 29,000 students in 86 schools across 16 school districts—in every middle school and high school across the entire United Way of Southwest Virginia service area (approximately 15% of the state).

Hands-on learning components of the Ignite Program include soft-skills curriculum, financial simulations, and soon, pilot apprenticeships through a summer youth work program. Career awareness components of the program include access to a web-based career software, teacher tours of employers and a Careers Expo for Youth.

To learn more about the Ignite Program, visit netnswvarelief.wpengine.com/ignite.

About United Way of Southwest Virginia
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 almost 15% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia serves Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise, and the cities of Galax and Norton. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit UnitedWaySWVA.org.

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