On program anniversary, Virginia Western reflects on major scholarship

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) For Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director at Virginia Western Community College, it's a busy time to year. There's a campus to prepare, teachers to ready, and students on their way back, many of whom are beneficiaries of one of the college's most successful programs.

"Basically it's the shot that we want to give them as a great start for the rest of their lives," she said.

It's the Community College Access Program, or CCAP, a public/private scholarship that provides funds for students from 7 area counties and cities. And as 2019 marks a decade of cooperation between the college and Roanoke City schools, it's giving officials a chance to look towards CCAP's future, and reflect on its past, most notably its financial impact.

"The program, since its inception, has alleviated $6.3 million in student debt," she said.

Mansfield says the program is targeted largely towards middle class families: people who might get some aid from the state or federal government, but still need help bridging the financial gap.

"CCAP's built to be the last-in money for them, and to make that gap disappear," she said.

And over the last decade, Mansfield says the goal has been to do that for more and more students. The program has been expanded during that time to cover both full and part time members of the community college. Nearly half of all students entering Virginia Western from area high schools now receive some kind of CCAP support.

And for students coming from Roanoke city specifically, their performance in the program has only gotten better with time.

"Students in 2018-19 had their best success rates ever. They're at 98%," said Mansfield. She defines success as either completing their respective programs, remaining in those programs, or transferring out to another college or university.

As to what the future holds, Mansfield says the college is in the midst of raising funds for CCAP 2.

"We are gearing up for the next evolution," she said.

Officials hope to add $6.5 million to the program by 2021. The goal: ensuring future generations have access to a program that Mansfield says has already helped so many.

"We want to make sure that we can always keep that promise," said Mansfield.