Giles County revamps ACCE program

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 4:42 PM EST
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GILES COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Any student in Giles County with a 2.5 GPA can go to New River Community College for two years for free through the county’s Access to Community College Education program.

Now the program is transitioning to be called ACCE All In.

“It’s a workforce development program but it also is a great opportunity for our kids,” Giles County Administrator Chris McKlarney said.

ACCE has sent hundreds of students to New River Community College, but now the program is revamping to help build up the community.

“We’ve got students now that are working in homeless shelters, they’re out building handicap ramps in people’s houses, they’re working through community organizations, 501 C-3s, churches, just dedicating their time to the community,” McKlarney said.

Students have to maintain the 2.5 GPA, but now instead of organizing the Muddy ACCE Race, they have to volunteer 100 hours in the community each year.

“This is an opportunity for them to really understand what community is, the community supporting them, and now they’re giving back and they are our future,” McKlarney said.

The county says this program teaches students responsibility while allowing them to receive an education.

“These kids are becoming so much more aware of their community,” Giles County Tourism Director Cora Gnegy said. “They love Giles, they were born and raised here for the most part, but they don’t realize that we have different groups that might have different needs than what they’re exposed to.”

With the program’s new vision, the county is looking for support in finding new community needs.

“If there’s a need or a project that just might not be on our radar, for whatever reason, we hope they’ll reach out,” Gnegy said. “We want these participants to really have an impact in their community.”