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In Rural Virginia, Community Involvement Crucial in Getting Kids to College

by Elizabeth Liverman | Dec 14, 2015

For Immediate Release: January 28, 2015

Partnerships between schools and their local communities play a major role in educational attainment for low-income students in rural Virginia localities, according to a recent report from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The report, entitled Doing More with Less: The Role of School-Community Partnerships in the Academic Success and Postsecondary Aspirations of Low-Income Students in Small Rural Schools in Virginia, is available on the SCHEV website at

The study’s authors, Drs. Nathan Alleman and L. Neal Holly, interviewed school counselors and principals, community leaders, and others in six rural Virginia school districts from the Appalachian highlands to the Eastern Shore. “The Council believes the report and accompanying materials will inspire many stakeholders from schools and non-profit organizations to make positive changes in rural communities across Virginia,” said SCHEV Director Peter Blake.

The research, funded through the federal College Access Challenge Grant Program, reveals that school-community partnerships are vital to the success of students from rural areas, which face unique economic and geographic challenges. The report offers a number of recommendations, including support of a Community Partnership Coordinator (CPC) position and consideration of ways to increase the involvement of minority voices in public life and decision-making. Another key recommendation is for stakeholders to conduct a school-community partnership inventory to better understand the types and functions of existing partnerships, as well as to highlight areas where aid is uncoordinated or non-existent.

To guide interested parties through the process of conducting a school-community partnership inventory, SCHEV has created a Workbook, which is available online at In addition to mailing Doing More with Less materials to principals and counselors at Virginia middle and high schools, SCHEV is reaching out to others interested in rural education to let them know these resources are available.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on higher education issues.

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