The Virginia College Fund's mission is "to provide our member institutions the resources to ensure their students have access to an affordable, value-based education that prepares them for success in a global economy". Since 1965 The Virginia College Fund ("The VCF") has been a reliable, consistent source of financial support for rural "access institutions", providing direct support to students from low to moderate income households, minority students, and students who are the first in their families to attend college. Our member schools are: Averett University, Bluefield College, Eastern Mennonite University, and Ferrum College. As a statewide consortium well-known for over 50 years, The VCF has been able to cultivate donors and board members committed to expanding access to higher education. The VCF's support comes from individuals, corporations,foundations and trusts.
Our member schools are located in rural areas of western, southern and southwestern Virginia in the towns of Danville (Averett University), Bluefield (Bluefield College), Harrisonburg (Eastern Mennonite University), and Ferrum (Ferrum College). All are long-established fixtures of their communities, having operated continuously for a century or more. These schools provide employment, invigorate the local economy, and provide a crucial path to economic prosperity for those who attend. Each year, The VCF divides 100 percent of its funding among the four institutions. The individual college or university will decide the size of each grant based on availability, need and academics. The average financial aid package for our four member schools is over $22,000 per student!
The VCF is now in its 56th year of supporting higher education in Virginia. The VCF began as the Independent Junior Colleges of Virginia (IJCA) in 1965, in response to the growing need for dedicated financial support or two-year "junior colleges". At the time, state-supported institutions were rapidly expanding and the community college system was in its early stages of development. Private sector leaders recognized the competitive disadvantage of the junior colleges---so indispensable to rural Virginia---and their need for an advocate and dependable financial resources.
The IJCA organized under an eighteen member Board of Trustees and hired their first executive director, Jesse R. Barnett, previously a member of the staff of the American Association of Junior Colleges. The board included the presidents of the original nine member schools---Averett College, Bluefield College, Ferrum Junior College, Marymount College, Shenandoah Conservatory, Southern Seminary Junior College, Stratford College, Sullins College, and Virginia Intermont College. The IJCA set ambitious goals to help the schools improve facilities, raise teacher salaries, and innovate educational programming.
Through the late 1960s schools began to merge and transition to four year degree-granting institutions. In 1970, the IJCA changes its name to The Virginia College Fund. Eastern Mennonite College and Seminary joined The VCF in 1977. The VCF's membership is now Averett University in Danville, Bluefield College in Bluefield, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, and Ferrum College in Ferrum. All are accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The VCF headquarters is in Richmond.
Since its inception, The VCF has contributed over $26,000,000 toward educational attainment for generations of Virginians. The VCF continues to rely on the private philanthropic and corporate communities for the majority of its grants, consistently meeting its annual fundraising goal. Additionally, 100 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to the member schools for student support according to an equitable funding formula based on enrollment. The fund is audited annually.
Most students enrolled at The VCF's member schools require tuition assistance; a third to nearly a half of students are from low- to moderate-income households, are among the first generation in their families to attend college, and/or are from minority backgrounds. The grants provide significant funding for many students at each school.
James K. Dill, formerly Chairman of the Board of Directors, has served full-time as President of The VCF since 2011. Jim previously worked at Wells Fargo Bank for sixteen years as a Trust Officer and Grants Manager in the Philanthropic Specialty Group. He holds a certification in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and an MBA from Wake Forest University.
The Virginia College Fund and its Board of Directors, member institutions, and students are grateful for your support.