On March 29, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation creating his signature “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program, which makes tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. The G3 program includes $36 million to cover tuition, fees, and books and provide wraparound support for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions.
“Building an equitable and inclusive economy is more important than ever as we emerge from this pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “The G3 program will connect thousands of Virginians with the skills, training, and resources they need to secure jobs in high-demand fields and support themselves and their families—all without being forced to shoulder mountains of student debt. Tuition-free community college was one of the key issues I ran on during my campaign for governor, and I am thrilled to be delivering on that promise.”
The Governor’s tuition-free community college initiative targets key industries, including health care, information technology, and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, public safety, and early childhood education. On average, students in these high-demand degree programs increase their wages by 60 percent upon program completion and double their individual state tax contributions.
“Many Virginians are struggling to secure good jobs and support their families despite the Commonwealth’s continuing recovery,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “The G3 program is a powerful tool to address the skills gap we are seeing in key industries and help businesses find the right talent to fill job openings, expanding both our workforce and our economy.”
The G3 program is one of the first in the nation to provide wraparound financial assistance to help students at the lowest income levels with expenses such as food, transportation, and child care. Students who qualify for a full federal Pell grant and enroll full-time will receive student-support incentive grants on a semester basis. These grants will be in an amount of up to $900 per semester and up to $450 per summer term. Participating institutions will receive a performance payment for every eligible student receiving a student-support incentive grant that successfully completes 30 credit hours, and an additional performance payment when the student earns an associate degree.
“With increased financial stress due to the pandemic, we are seeing more middle- and low-income Virginians delay looking for new job opportunities,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “The G3 program provides critical funding to ensure students are equipped to complete the training that will enable them to enter and excel in high-need fields.”
Initial eligibility for the G3 program is determined through the submission of applications for federal and state student financial aid, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. To address pandemic-related declines in FAFSA completion rates, Governor Northam recently announced a statewide effort to offer free, one-on-one FAFSA advising. From March 22 through June 30, 2021, Virginia students and families can go to virginiacan.org/fafsa to schedule a virtual meeting with a FAFSA advisor.
“I am grateful for Governor Northam’s steadfast leadership in championing and passing this critical program,” said House Speaker Filler-Corn. “The G3 jobs training program will equip Virginians with skills to enter or return to the workforce and give back to their communities through tuition-free community college in fast-growing industries like healthcare and information technology.”
“I was proud to be the chief co-patron of this legislation that establishes a free community college program for low and middle-income students in high-need fields,” said Senate Majority Leader Saslaw. “The G3 program will be a lifeline to thousands of students who are looking for a sustainable way to support their families and contribute to their communities.”
To prepare for the G3 program, Governor Northam announced a collaborative effort in 2018 to transform workforce programs offered through the Virginia Community College System. This model equips students with skills training on day one and provides continual pathways for working adults to obtain additional credentials throughout their careers.
“The Governor’s G3 initiative will make earning the necessary skills to fully participate in our 21st-century economy affordable for more Virginians,” said Glenn Dubois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. “Virginia’s 23 community colleges are ready to help students prepare for and succeed in the high-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.”
For more information about how to enroll in the G3 program, individuals are encouraged to reach out to their local community college.
Virginia Colleges Launch Innovative Program to Address Teacher Shortage
Lab Schools to Train High School Students as Future Educators.
Virginia is taking a significant step towards addressing its teacher shortage with the launch of a groundbreaking partnership between Laurel Ridge Community College, Germanna Community College, and James Madison University. This initiative, part of the state’s broader College Partnership Laboratory Fund, is not just a solution to a critical issue but a beacon of hope for future educators.
The Virginia General Assembly established the College Partnership Laboratory Fund in 2022, committing $100 million to this cause. Following the success of the first lab school associated with Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Board of Education recently approved two more lab schools, including the Future Educators Academy.
Dr. Kim Blosser, President of Laurel Ridge, expressed excitement about collaborating with Germanna to operate the lab school at the Middletown and Fauquier campuses. “Our public school divisions, especially rural areas, face acute teacher shortages. This program is a step towards addressing that need, focusing on educating high school students who will eventually serve their local communities,” said Dr. Blosser.
The Future Educators Academy is a unique approach designed to bridge the gap in the teaching workforce. Students enrolled in this program will simultaneously work towards an associate degree and a high school advanced studies diploma. Moreover, they will receive guaranteed admission into JMU’s College of Education, potentially earning their bachelor’s degree in education within two years.
This accelerated and rigorous program is inclusive, targeting all students with a passion for teaching, including at-risk groups and those who have experienced pandemic-related learning setbacks. Governor Glenn Youngkin, who prioritizes establishing lab schools, highlights the program’s accessibility and commitment to educational recovery.
Dr. Janet Gullickson, president of Germanna, explained the vision behind the Future Educators Academy. “Our goal is to create a no-cost, accelerated path for students to fill teaching positions quickly. The idea is to nurture our K-12 teachers who will contribute to their home communities,” she stated.
The initiative is timely, considering the current challenges in the education sector. It offers a sustainable solution by empowering young aspirants to step into the teaching profession equipped with early training and a sense of community responsibility.
Germanna’s lab school students will begin in fall 2023, while Laurel Ridge will welcome its first cohort in fall 2025. This strategic timeline ensures a steady flow of trained educators into Virginia’s school system in the coming years.
The Future Educators Academy is a testament to Virginia’s commitment to resolving the immediate teacher shortage and fostering a new generation of educators equipped to face the challenges of modern education.
Cub Scouts Bring Joy to Pediatric Patients with Jared Boxes
Local Scouts Offer Comfort and Fun to Hospitalized Children.
Warrenton, VA – In a heartwarming act of community service, the young members of Cub Scout Pack 1166 Wolf Den from Warrenton, VA, have brought smiles and comfort to pediatric patients at Fauquier Hospital. During October, these spirited youngsters crafted and delivered handmade Jared Boxes, transforming a potentially intimidating hospital experience into joy and playfulness.
For more than two decades, over a million Jared Boxes have been distributed by various groups nationwide. Brimming with activities such as fidget toys and coloring pages, these boxes have been a beacon of happiness for young patients. The Cub Scouts of Pack 1166 have joined this noble effort, contributing their energy and creativity to this cause.
Sarah Shilling, a Cub Scout Leader, inspired her troop with the idea of this impactful service project. Her vision was to involve young children in community service in a meaningful and relatable way. The Jared Box Project perfectly aligned with this goal, empowering children to support their peers through thoughtful gifts. “I always encourage them to look for the helpers. It is empowering to have them be the helpers in this case,” Sarah remarked, highlighting the project’s positive impact on both givers and receivers.
Matthew Martinez, another dedicated leader and volunteer at Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue, has witnessed firsthand the anxiety children face during medical emergencies. His involvement in the Jared Box initiative stems from his desire to alleviate these fears. “I see many kids upset and scared during transport. I wanted to do something to brighten their day and get the Cub Scouts involved,” he shared.
The effectiveness of Jared Boxes is not just theoretical. Jess Laurent, a fellow Cub Scout Leader, shared a personal story. “My son was one of the first surgical cases to be done during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Masks and COVID testing were scary, but he received a Jared Box. That act provided him comfort and helped ease his nerves,” Jess recalled, emphasizing the boxes’ reassuring presence during stressful times.
The successful delivery of these Jared Boxes in October has endowed Fauquier Health with a valuable resource. These boxes offer a sense of normalcy and fun to children facing medical challenges, thus fostering a deeper sense of community and empathy within the hospital environment.
The Cub Scouts of Pack 1166 have demonstrated that age is no barrier to making a significant impact. Through their efforts, they have brightened the days of many young patients and set an inspiring example of community service and compassion.
About Fauquier Health
Fauquier Health, located at 500 Hospital Drive, Warrenton, VA, is a community-focused health system emphasizing high-quality, individualized patient care. Serving Fauquier and neighboring counties, it includes a 97-bed accredited hospital, a 113-bed rehabilitation and nursing center, an assisted living facility, a wound health center, and a wellness center offering various health programs. Additionally, Fauquier Health operates multiple specialized physician’s offices. For more information, visit FauquierHealth.org or call 540-316-5000.
Winchester SPCA Thrift Shop Ready to Show Off Its New Look at Grand Reopening, Sat. Dec. 2
The Winchester Area SPCA has expressed excitement in announcing the grand re-opening of its thrift shop on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Winchester-area community is invited to join a day of celebration and shopping at the newly renovated and revitalized thrift store located at 1944 Abrams Creek Drive, Winchester, VA.
“We are extremely grateful to the Winchester business community for supporting this endeavor,” said Lavenda Denney, Executive Director of the Winchester Area SPCA, in a recent press release. “The thrift shop is the lifeblood of our animal shelter and clinic. This revitalized space offers an improved shopping experience and directly supports the Winchester Area SPCA’s mission of providing care and compassion to needy animals in our community.”
It was noted that a grassroots effort has given the Winchester Area SPCA Thrift Shop a total transformation over the last few months. Winchester area businesses have generously funded the entire project, which includes the installation of new lighting, new display furniture, relocating the front entrance, the addition of dressing rooms, fresh paint throughout, reconfigured floor space, a coffee bar, several new merchandise sections, and new landscaping that incorporates native plants. Additionally, the exterior features a mural created by Winchester artist Sarah Gallahan.
The release acknowledged local businesses that contributed to the renovation, including Four Square Architects, BAC Dumpsters, Sunbelt Rentals, Vulcan Materials, Blue Ridge Glass and Metal, United Rentals, Sherwin-Williams in Stephens City and Winchester, Winchester Printers, Frogale Lumber, Glass Doctor, Hunter’s Head Tavern, and Ayrshire Farm. Sharon Phipps of Boyce generously donated the funds for the coffee bar, and Airynee Damewood of Upperville provided landscaping services.
Some parts of the renovation still need sponsors, however, and the Winchester Area SPCA asks other businesses and individuals interested in donating to contact Lavenda Denney for more information.
“We still have several naming opportunities available,” she added.
The grand reopening event will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., followed by exclusive in-store promotions, live music, photos with Santa and his sleigh, face painting for children, exciting raffles throughout the day, and refreshments, including hot cider, popcorn, and cookies.
“We are thrilled to invite the community to join us in celebrating the grand reopening of the Winchester Area SPCA Thrift Shop,” said Nicole Seal, the thrift shop’s manager. “If you haven’t visited us recently, you’ll find it so much easier to discover what you need and, of course, unexpected treasures!”
Shoppers can expect a wide array of merchandise, including clothing, accessories, home goods, vintage finds, pet supplies, tools, technology, and more. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the store benefit the Winchester Area SPCA’s programs and services, so each purchase involves a meaningful contribution to the welfare of animals in our community.
Save the date for Saturday, Dec. 2, and join the Winchester Area SPCA Thrift Shop for a day of festivities, community engagement, and fantastic finds – all aimed at making a difference in the lives of animals in need.
And don’t forget that our Warren County community now has its own Humane Society and Julia Wagner Animal Shelter-supporting “Pick of the Litter Thrift Store” in the southern commercial area of downtown Front Royal off Commerce Avenue at 450 South Commerce Avenue, Suite E. That location is not far from the Humane Society’s Discount Spay and Neuter Clinic on the John Marshall Highway side of that commercial area. In fact, the Pick of the Litter Thrift Store celebrated its first anniversary earlier this month, on November 4.
But for more information about the Winchester Area SPCA and its Thrift Shop re-opening, visit winchesterspca.org.
(Information from a release by the Winchester SPCA)
VIDEO: Occupant Fatality Confirmed in Friday Morning Blue Ridge Ave. Residential Structure Fire in Front Royal
On the afternoon of Friday, November 24, Warren County Assistant Fire Chief Gerry Maiatico confirmed a fatality in the residential structure fire reported that morning at 240 Blue Ridge Avenue. Maiatico said the department received reports of one occupant likely trapped inside and that remains of one human victim had been discovered inside the structure once first responders were able to access the interior of the building. Maiatico said initial efforts to suppress the fire to the point where entry and extraction could be accomplished were thwarted by the intensity of the fire.
No identity was being released, and a cause of death had yet to be determined. The remains were being sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office to attempt to confirm a cause of death. Neighbors said a lone older woman lived in the residence at the northeast corner of the intersection of Blue Ridge Avenue and Prospect Street with some pet cats, which had outside access through a pet door.
The structure fire was reported at 7:20 a.m., Assistant Fire Chief Maiatico said. The Front Royal Police Department and Loudoun County Fire Marshall’s Office assisted at the scene.
Thanks to Michael Hasty for the video footage.
Local Edward Jones Senior Branch Office Administrator Earns Professional Designation
Ginny Musil has taken a step in her development recently by obtaining the Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional(TM), or FPQP(TM), designation through the College for Financial Planning®.
“At Edward Jones, we are committed to continuous learning as we help our clients achieve the things that matter most to them,” Bret Hrbek. Ginny has worked hard to earn this designation, and I have no doubt that this additional education will benefit our clients and our branch.”
Musil has been with Edward Jones for five years. Hrbek and Musil can be reached at 540-635-8229. You may also visit their website at www.EdwardJones.com/Bret-Hrbek.
Edward Jones is a leading financial services firm in the U.S. and through its affiliate in Canada. The firm’s more than 19,000 financial advisors serve more than 8 million clients with a total of $1.8 trillion in client assets under care at the end of June 2023. Edward Jones’ purpose is to partner for positive impact to improve the lives of its clients and colleagues, and together, better our communities and society. Through the dedication of the firm’s approximately 52,000 associates and our branch presence in 68% of U.S. counties, the firm is committed to helping more people achieve financially what is most important to them. The Edward Jones website is at edwardjones.com, and its recruiting website is careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Southern Flying Squirrel
Imagine you are cold and hungry and you come upon a buffet of your favorite snacks! How could this young Southern flying squirrel resist? Sadly, the free meal that lured the squirrel in, turned out to be a deadly trap. By the time he was discovered, he had clearly been stuck for an extended period of time and was severely dehydrated and barely responsive.
Once admitted to our hospital and freed from the trap, this patient was started on fluids to rehydrate and housed in an incubator as he was unable to thermoregulate (process that allows your body to maintain its internal temperature) on his own.
Glue traps never provide a humane death for their victims, whether intended targets (like insects and mice) or accidental entrapments like this patient. Please do not use glue traps—there are better ways to prevent (or even humanely trap or kill) the intended targets. If you use traps of ANY type, please be sure to check those traps regularly, at least every 24 hours.
What should you do if you find an animal stuck to a glue trap?
Please DO NOT try to remove the animal yourself as this often results in lacerations, broken bones, skin tears, and death. Follow these simple steps:
- Cover the exposed adhesive with dirt/tissue/bread crumbs/crushed cereal/any other safe substance to prevent the animal from getting stuck further.
(Image: using crushed cereal to prevent this Carolina wren from getting further stuck to a glue trap.)
- Than, cover the animal with a towel to reduce stress.
- The animal, still on the trap but now covered, can now be placed into a box and transported to a wildlife hospital or licensed rehabilitator.
A quick online search will typically suggest using oil. However, don’t believe everything on the internet! Many of our most common victims (rodents, bats, birds, etc.) will attempt to groom oil off and can die from excessive oil ingestion and/or it will cause damage to their fur/feathers.
Our glue trap patient is still in critical condition and the prognosis for a full recovery is guarded. We are glad that the finders brought him to us right away, giving him the best chance of survival.
We are excited to announce that Trex Company is sponsoring our Giving Tuesday match this year! Trex will be matching donations made on Giving Tuesday by donating up to $25,000 worth of materials! As you can see in this video, much of our newer caging is set on Trex platforms. This has been a game changer for us as these cages are set off the ground and can be cleaned and disinfected much more easily than wood caging.
All of our patients, whether sick, injured, or orphaned, eventually go into our outdoor caging and this donation will allow us to repair and build new caging for the 3,500+ patients we treat each year. Though the in-kind match from Trex will be used to update our patient caging, donated funds will be used for all aspects of medical and rehabilitative care!
Help us reach $25,000 by donating on 11/28! Donations can be made through our Facebook/Instagram accounts, through our website, or by check mailed to the Center. Any donation made on 11/28 (or checks made out to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center and dated 11/28) will count towards this match! You can help further by creating your own Giving Tuesday fundraisers and asking friends to help support our mission.
Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.