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University Receives Multi-Million Dollar Grant from Danville Regional Foundation


August 28, 2014



Averett University is excited to announce the receipt of a $1,929,750 grant from the Danville Regional Foundation that will not only engage our students, but also community colleges, public schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations in the region.

The grant, which will be awarded over five years, provides for the creation of the new Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness at Averett. It also will allow the University to hire staff who will focus exclusively on service-learning, volunteerism and career readiness efforts.

"This is truly a game-changing investment and I'm so deeply grateful to the Danville Regional Foundation and its board of directors for investing in community impact through hundreds of students — one of our region's greatest assets," said Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks. "This grant allows our students to learn from firsthand experiences in the community, bringing their liberal arts education to life both inside and outside of the classroom.

"The region's business and civic leaders will have countless smart, motivated college students at their disposal — college students who are eager to bring their strong work ethic, their idealism and fresh ideas to the area's businesses and organizations."

The center will serve as the hub for community engagement and career competitiveness in the region through academic partnerships with Danville Community College and Piedmont Community College, public schools, businesses and non-profit partners. It will build on the momentum already created in our community, focusing on three key areas:

1. Service-Learning: Service-learning programs essentially empower students to learn from direct experience while serving the needs of the community; i.e., to take lessons learned in the classroom and apply them to real-life situations. Students from Averett, Danville Community College and Piedmont Community College who participate in service-learning programs will graduate with more than a degree. They will have gained invaluable experience in their chosen fields; the kind of meaningful experience that will make them more attractive to prospective employers.

2. Career Competitiveness: The focus here is on: a) helping students find internships with businesses or nonprofit organizations in this region — internships that are mutually beneficial to both the students and the businesses or nonprofit organizations for whom the students are working; b) mentoring students, "coaching them up" on their interviewing skills and helping them build strong résumés; and c) ultimately helping students find rewarding employment in this region – i.e., the kind of jobs/careers that will make our talented young people want to stay in this region.

3. Community Engagement: Imagine empowering 1,000 or more students to fan out across the region and volunteer their services to area nonprofits. Imagine the difference those students will make in the lives of people most in need. This is the kind of life-changing community engagement the generous grant from the Danville Regional Foundation will make possible for years to come.

"We have been working for several years with many organizations to attract and retain young professionals to the Dan River Region," said Karl Stauber, president and CEO of the Danville Regional Foundation. "We have always said that the region must be a place where young people want to live, work and play and now we know that young people want to serve. By joining with Averett University, we are tapping into their dynamic student body and adding to their strong liberal arts education an element of service and learning that will make them even more desirable for future employers here in the Dan River Region."

Alexis Ehrhardt, currently Averett University's director of academic partnerships, has been appointed executive director of the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness. Petrina Carter, Averett's director of career services, will also play a vital role in the work of the center. Also part of the center's staff will be Averett's first Americorps VISTA Member Carianna Beck, a 2014 graduate of the University. Beck will focus on the University's service-learning and volunteerism efforts, engaging students and the community.