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Generation Charleston Takes On High School Dropout Rate

About 17 percent of West Virginia high school students drop out before graduation.

For Generation Charleston, that’s a troubling statistic.

“This is a critical issue,” said Ryan White, co-captain of the group’s Public Policy Team. “The state’s future depends on turning around the dropout rate.”

Generation Charleston and the Education Alliance are hosting a Policy Forum, scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Equities House on Virginia Street.

“The purpose of the forum is to come up with a legislative initiative aimed at lowering the dropout rate in West Virginia,” said T.J. Meadows, co-captain of the Public Policy Team. “Educational leaders from various state and national groups have been invited to provide input.”

Several initiatives will be presented to groups of eight to 10 participants, who will discuss merits and make recommendations. The groups then will present the initiatives to all forum attendees, who will pick one that best confronts the drop-out issue.

The Charleston Committee for Change, an advocacy group of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce, plans to endorse an initiative during the 2011 legislative session.

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admin in Education,Generation Charleston on September 24 2010 » Comments are closed

Generation Charleston Focusing on Scholarships, Workshops

The story below appears in today’s Charleston Gazette.

By Whitney Burdette
Staff writer

CollegeSummitGeneration Charleston, a committee of the Charleston Area Alliance, has chosen College Summit as its year-long cause.

The group is seeking volunteers to staff College Summit’s six summer workshops at colleges and universities around the state. It’s also working to provide funds for a scholarship.

Larissa Adams, a senior from Sissonville High School, was chosen to receive Generation Charleston’s $2,000 scholarship. She also received a laptop and will receive $100 certificates each year for the next three years.

“We chose Larissa because she had a very powerful essay,” said Rachelle Beckner, project coordinator. “She’s a well-rounded student with a lot of drive and desire to achieve. We could see her succeeding with this extra push.”

Adams accepted the scholarship and laptop at an event on June 3.

College Summit was formed in Washington in 1993 to help inner-city students improve their writing skills before going to college. Since then, the organization has expanded to 13 states, including West Virginia.

College Summit hosts workshops at colleges and universities throughout the state where students work on their writing skills and develop a compelling essay to use on their college applications, Beckner said.

“It works with students who are B or C students who have a potential they don’t see,” Beckner said.

The Charleston Area Alliance has teamed up with College Summit in the past, and has also provided scholarships. However, this is Generation Charleston’s first involvement with the organization.

“What we agreed to was to issue the scholarship and raise funds for it,” Beckner said. “The other big component was to help College Summit find the volunteers they need for their workshops. They need people to serve as writing coaches.”

Beckner said almost anyone can volunteer as a College Summit writing coach, even those who are not professional writers. Background checks are conducted to maintain student safety, and training is provided for volunteers.

“If someone has writing skills, that would be helpful,” Beckner said. “I think just the desire to help young people be successful and go to college would be the first criteria.”

Concord University in Athens and Glenville State College in Glenville are in need of volunteers for their workshops in late June and July. Each workshop is three days and participants and coaches stay on-campus in a residence hall.

The Concord workshops are scheduled for June 24-27 and July 8-11. The Glenville workshops are scheduled for July 15-18 and July 22-25.

One of Generation Charleston’s goals is to make the city more appealing to businesses through community projects and organizations like College Summit, said group member Danny Forinash.

“The purpose of the group is to make Charleston more attractive for younger professionals in the Kanawha Valley region in terms of keeping them here and attracting new people to the region,” Forinash said.

Generation Charleston is continually fundraising for the scholarship. It will host a homecoming-themed gala on Aug. 7 at the University of Charleston Grand Ballroom. Tickets are $30 and include food and drink, music, contests and door prizes. Beckner said approximately $10 of every ticket will go directly to the scholarship fund.

To volunteer for a College Summit workshop, contact Jayme Waldeck at 304-204-4061. To donate to the Generation Charleston College Summit Scholarship, call Danny Forinash at 304-340-4253.

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admin in Education,Generation Charleston,In the News on June 16 2010 » Comments are closed

Alliance Announces 2010 College Summit Scholarship Recipients


The Charleston Area Alliance today announced its 2010 College Summit Scholarship recipients. 

The winners are: Larissa Adams, Sissonville High School; Adam Cooper, Nitro High School; Attaya Green, Capital High School; and Chelsi Griffith, South Charleston High School.

Funding for three of the scholarships is provided by the Maier Foundation. Generation Charleston, the Alliance’s emerging leaders group, is fundraising for the fourth scholarship this year.

Each student will receive a $2,000 scholarship. In addition, students will receive a gift card their sophomore and junior years to their university bookstores. A gift card to a Charleston Area Alliance member retailer will be provided their senior years to purchase business attire, helping them to present a professional image during job interviews. 

The students will be recognized for their achievement at the Alliance’s 2010 Annual Celebration, scheduled for June 3 at The Clay Center.

The Alliance’s Scholarship Selection Committee met earlier this month to review applications and choose the recipients.

“Selecting just four winners from this excellent group of applicants was indeed a challenge, but we all agreed that helping set these students on a course for success was worthy of our hard work,” said committee member John Calvert. “It was a distinct honor to serve on this committee.” 

The Alliance began partnering with College Summit in 2006 to provide scholarship opportunities to students participating in College Summit’s Peer Leader workshop. During this workshop, students receive intensive instruction on how to get into college, including working with a writing coach to perfect personal essays, filling out practice college applications, meeting with college counselors and researching financial aid opportunities. These students then return to their high schools to share the information learned in the workshop with peers. In addition to being peer leaders, students must post between a 2.0 and 3.5 GPA and plan on attending a West Virginia college or university.

Since the scholarship program was first implemented, the Charleston Area Alliance has awarded 20 scholarships to low-income high schools students throughout Kanawha County. 

“Providing these scholarships is one of the most rewarding things the Alliance does each year,” said Alliance President Matt Ballard. “Creating jobs is vital, but we must have a workforce to help us attract new businesses to locate in the region. I invite everyone to attend our Annual Celebration when we will recognize these students. You will see promise and the future in their eyes.”

To register for the Annual Celebration, visit www.CharlestonAreaAlliance.org/Events.

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admin in Economic Development,Education,Generation Charleston on May 12 2010 » Comments are closed

West Virginia Native Helps Students Navigate the Challenges of College

DuffySmallAbout 18 percent of West Virginians older than 25 have bachelor’s degrees.

For Jon Duffy, that’s not good enough.

“We have a real need to foster further education attainment in the state, considering the workforce and the viability of education,” said Duffy, who this year launched his own educational planning service in the Charleston Area Alliance Small Business Incubator at 1116 Smith St.

The fastest growing sectors in the U.S. require post-secondary education for employment. But obtaining degrees can be tough for students, especially when the costs of attending college can be high and when a third of college students drop out after the first year.

“They face academic, social and emotional challenges,” Duffy said. “They are adjusting to new environments. They are away from home and learning to live independently. They have to manage their time and finances.”

Duffy specializes in providing comprehensive guidance and planning during the college application process and throughout the freshman year.  

“The transition to college can be a stressful time and a big adjustment for students,” Duffy said. “What I’m doing is assisting West Virginia high school students with college admissions, financial aid and transitioning. I’m not only preparing students but also coaching and supporting them through the critical first year.”

Each student is unique, which is why Duffy delves into their backgrounds, goals and interests.

“Getting to know them allows me to be better able to help them in finding the right fit, the right college or university,” Duffy said.

A South Charleston native, Duffy graduated from West Virginia University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology then from Marshall University in 1998 with a master’s degree in school counseling. His education background includes coordinating health sciences rotations in Kanawha County and counseling at the middle school level.

He spent seven years as an assessment consultant to colleges and universities throughout the U.S. before deciding to base his own business in Charleston.

“This is a great location in downtown Charleston,” Duffy said about the incubator. “It presents an opportunity to learn from and network with other small businesses. I’ve spent the past several years working at campuses throughout the U.S., and now I’m eager to make a difference here at home.”

To learn more about Duffy’s business, call (304) 380-2334 or visit www.duffyplan.com.

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admin in Education,Member Posts on May 04 2010 » Comments are closed

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