ROANOKE, Va.—Free tuition for college students?
It seems hard to believe but one of Roanoke's top companies is a driving force to making that a reality.
Advance Auto Parts announced Wednesday it is donating $125,000 for the Community College Access Program at Virginia Western Community College.
CCCAP, as it is commonly called, allows students from Roanoke City, Salem, and Franklin County to attend Virginia Western Community College for free for two years.
"We want to eliminate those barriers for these students," Virginia Western Community College President Robert Sandel said. "We want to make opportunity available for them. We can make it happen, we can make a difference in people's lives."
The CCCAP program is helping 160 students this year.
There are plans to eventually help students in Botetourt, Craig, and Roanoke Counties.
Here is the news release from Virginia Western Community College:
ROANOKE, VA (April 18, 2012) - Virginia Western Community College and Advance Auto Parts announced a major partnership today to provide funding for the Community College Access Program (CCAP). The Roanoke-headquartered company has committed to providing $125,000 this year as part of an ongoing partnership to help make college possible for local high school graduates.
Advance Auto Parts President and Chief Executive Officer Darren R. Jackson joined Virginia Western President Robert H. Sandel in making the announcement in front of an audience of students, faculty, staff, business and community leaders on the college's campus.
"Advance Auto Parts is proud to support Virginia Western Community College and CCAP. We believe everyone has the right to pursue a higher education, despite their financial situation, and we are committed to bringing these opportunities to our community. Together with our community partners, we will make college possible for local students," said Jackson. "Through this partnership with Virginia Western Community College, we truly see how we are bringing our Promise - Service is our Best Part - to life. We believe that by supporting the communities in which we operate, we all win."
Launched in 2008, CCAP is a series of both public and private partnerships with the objective of making college available tuition-free to area high school graduates. Administered by the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, the needs-based program covers the cost of tuition for two years at Virginia Western for students who meet program guidelines. CCAP is currently available to graduating high school students in the Roanoke City, Salem City and Franklin County school systems and served more than 160 students in the 2011-12 academic year and more than 500 applications were received for 2012-13.
The Educational Foundation is seeking additional partners and funds to launch the program in the Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke County school systems. A $7 million College Access Campaign is currently underway, striving to fund CCAP throughout the region.
"Virginia Western wishes to thank Advance Auto Parts for its dedication to our region and the foresight to help make this new education model a reality," Sandel said. "By investing in CCAP, Advance Auto Parts is investing in the next generation of local business leaders. Financial shortcomings will not prevent students from acquiring the higher education they need to be competitive in this changing economy. The Virginia Community College System and Virginia Western recognize the significance of this investment."
On Tuesday, Jackson joined Sandel in Richmond to accept the 2012 Chancellor's Award for Leadership in Philanthropy from the Virginia Community College System. Chancellor Glenn DuBois announced the statewide recognition, which has honored the leading philanthropists from each of Virginia's 23 community colleges for the past seven years. Advance Auto Parts will have a scholarship named in its honor that will be awarded next fall to a student attending Virginia Western.