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Virginia Foundation for Community College Education receives $2 million gift

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Michael A. Smith and Valley Proteins Inc., the Winchester-based company Smith operates with his brother, Gerald F. Smith Jr., are donating a total of $2 million to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.

The donation,  which is among the largest ever made to a foundation supporting Virginia’s community colleges, will be the lead gift for the foundation’s Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative.

The initiative is a partnership involving 14 Virginia community colleges, their foundations and the VFCCE.

The 10-year project is designed to encourage middle-class students to pursue education opportunities beyond high school; support foster youth in obtaining an education; and assist adults who failed to finish high school but need money to pay for workforce training beyond a G.E.D.

The $2 million gift is the latest in a series of significant investments that Valley Proteins has made in the VFCCE. That includes the Valley Proteins Endowment Fund that began awarding an annual grant in 2007 to support workforce development programs at Virginia’s community colleges in the areas of environmental science, commercial truck driving, heating and air conditioning, and office technology in regions where the company conducts its rendering operations.

The company has also funded the VFCCE’s Valley Proteins Fellows Program for three years. The fellowships, awarded to extraordinary second-year students attending a Virginia Community College include up to $5,000 for tuition, books, fees and expenses. In addition, the program provides recipients with the opportunity to participate in unique academic and leadership opportunities.

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