The Virginia Western Educational Foundation awarded nearly $24,000 to six Virginia Western faculty and staff members to support innovative initiatives designed to positively impact student success and advance novel ideas. 

This year’s awardees received between $500-$7,200 apiece to fund their initiatives. The Educational Foundation’s Innovation Grant program has awarded 52 grants totaling more than $250,000 in the past decade.

This year’s winning projects are as varied as the curriculum at Virginia Western. One grant will purchase more microscopes and slides for a STEM lab; another will enable outreach and collaboration between the College and Northwest Roanoke in an effort to attract more students from that area.

“We’re always looking for bright ideas and creativity in action,” said Marilyn Herbert-Ashton, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “We are pleased that the funds will go to address real needs and enhance student success.”

The Innovation Grant program is funded by donors to the Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the College. The program’s growth is the result of a concentrated effort to create awareness of the funds available and educate faculty and staff on the opportunities, steps to apply, and evaluating the overall application process with staff to make improvements the following year.

The investment made by the Foundation is much greater than microscopes and slides or other project materials, according to Edwin “Ed” Hall, Chair of the Foundation’s Scholarship and Grants Committee.

“The goal of the Foundation is to attract really good faculty and improve education to the highest level possible so our students are employable,” said Hall. “We’re focused on the long-term growth of the individual student as well as our community, and these grants provide a means for us to continue delivering on that.”

Applications for 2021-22 funding will be available in December, and proposals are due in March. All faculty and staff are eligible to submit proposals.

For more information, contact Carolyn Payne, Scholarship Coordinator, at cpayne@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6376.

2020-21 Innovation Grant Recipients

Proposal NameProject DescriptionAwardee/DeptAmount Awarded
Alleviating Barriers for Adult Learners Through Portfolio AssessmentProject phase 1 creates an innovative and more consistent credit for prior learning program for adult learners through portfolio development, assessment and evaluation. Professional development will educate us on how to engage key players, administer processes, create a pipeline of faculty evaluators, and outreach to students.Cathy Ferguson, School of CCT$5,000
Microscopes and Slides for STEM CenterThe primary goal of this project is to obtain microscopes and slides for the STEM center. Students will have greater access to microscopes in which they can utilize to enhance their technique and study for Biology laboratory exams.Matthew Goff, School of STEM$7,242
VWCC/Northwest Collaborative: United for ImpactTo increase the footprint of Virginia Western in Northwest Roanoke through collaboration with neighborhood, nonprofits and grassroots organizations which promote health, education and training and community development.Cheryl Hilton, TRIO Pathways$5,000
Accelerating the Automotive Technology PathwayIncrease students in BTT’s Automotive Analysis & Repair CSC courses. Expand program capacity, increase opportunity for new course development in automotive technology and support new automotive course partnerships focused on new English language learners.Wil Preston, School of CCT$3,000
Improv for Creative Teaching and LearningHelp foster a more creative culture at Virginia Western — ultimately improving the student learning experience — by providing an opportunity for faculty and staff to learn the basic techniques of improv theater.Stephanie Seagle, Institutional Advancement$500
Expanding Machining Program CapacityRestructure teaching space to create two dedicated teaching areas for the Machining Lab at the current Melrose campus, rearrange the machine shop layout to group machines to match the curriculum of the classes (Fundamentals, Milling, Turning and CNC Programming). We will also consolidate the former Industrial Maintenance lab equipment with newly purchased Mechatronics Fundamentals equipment into the STEM building for our partnership with the Mechatronics academic program.Bryan Walke, School of CCT$2,700