‘Great Expectations’ aims to create brighter future for foster kids

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 14, 2008

FRANKLIN—Paul D. Camp Community College was just one stop along the 700 miles that the chancellor of Virginia’s community colleges pedalled to raise awareness for the Great Expectations program.

Glenn DuBois stopped at seven other community colleges throughout Virginia and made PDCCC’s Franklin campus his next-to-last stop on Wednesday.

He rode to Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake on Thursday to complete what he called &uot;an extraordinary journey.&uot;

DuBois arrived at the PDCCC Workforce Development Center at 10 a.m. Wednesday sporting a &uot;Tour de Franklin&uot; T-shirt. He was joined by PDCCC cyclists Carol Wright, assistant professor of nursing; Joe Edenfield, dean of the Franklin campus; and alumnus Gerald Roberts.

Mayor Jim Councill and an entourage of Franklin, Southampton County and PDCCC officials greeted the group.

&uot;Both bike and Glenn are in pretty good shape,&uot; DuBois said when he arrived.

The trip started June 27 as DuBois used his vacation time to raise awareness and funds for the Great Expectations program.

&uot;Just last year I met a series of people that convinced me that we needed to step it up,&uot; he said.

The program will be implemented this year at five of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. It focuses on transitional education and an after-school program to help foster-care children in Virginia and aims to help those youth attain a college degree.

In the first year, the program will help 50 students transition out of foster care through counseling, support and guidance about their futures.

&uot;I thought our job in the community college system is to respond where there is an unmet need,&uot; DuBois said.

Foster youth who are high school graduates or GED completers can attend Virginia community colleges through the Tuition Grant program, which was created by legislation in 2001.

However, statistics from The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education show that less than 3 percent of the 8,085 children in Virginia’s foster care system will earn a college degree.

The goals of the Great Expectations program include expanding the program to all Virginia community colleges, raising $10 million by December 2009 and helping foster care youth ages 13 to 17 complete high school and transition to higher education.

&uot;None of these young people chose foster care as something they wanted to do,&uot; Dubois said. &uot;It was imposed on them.&uot;

More information can be found on the Web site at www.GreatExpectations.vccs.edu