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GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc.

Glen Allen, VA

www.grasp4va.org

Amount Requested: $10,000 for In-School FInancial Aid Advising

Mission: To help students and their families, regardless of their financial resources and at no charge to them, develop an educational plan: by assisting them with the financial aid process; by awarding and administering scholarships; by inspiring them to believe that secondary and post-secondary education are attainable goals; and by supporting them in the attainment of their goals throughout their post-secondary education.

Constituents Served: Any GRASP-served high school student or parent may meet with his or her GRASP advisor.  Over half of those who work with the GRASP program qualify for free or reduced lunch.  670 individual high school students in the Community Foundation’s region were assisted by a GRASP advisor during the 2014-2015 school year.  During the first five months of the 2015-2016 school year in the Central Blue Ridge area, GRASP advisors have worked with over 600 individual students, presented classroom presentations to approximately 1116 students and contacted another 589  people through small group meetings and evening presentations.

Program Overview: This grant will support GRASP’s in-school advising program in the nine high schools (Buffalo Gap, Fort Defiance, Highland County, Nelson County, Riverheads, Robert E. Lee, Stuarts Draft, Waynesboro, and Wilson) GRASP serves in the Central Blue Ridge area.  The program provides highly-trained, in-school advisors assisting students and their parents and/or guardians in gathering the resources to access post-secondary education. All of GRASP’s Central Blue Ridge GRASP advisors live within the Community Foundation’s footprint.  Students and their parents (and sometimes grandparents) have the opportunity to work with their GRASP Advisor right at their high school where students can receive services in a safe and convenient setting.  Our advisors use an individualized approach working with students and families in one-to-one appointments to offer personalized assistance.  Advisors help students understand and navigate the process of financial aid, scholarships, and, occasionally, college applications themselves.  The advisors assist students with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which is the basis for receiving financial aid at post-secondary institutions.  Statistics show that only 55% of those pursuing a post-secondary education complete the FAFSA.  Those students who do not complete the FAFSA disqualify themselves automatically from receiving most types of financial aid, which in turn often puts post-secondary education out of reach.  In addition to post-secondary financial aid advising, GRASP advisors at five of the local high schools (Buffalo Gap, Highland County, Nelson County, Robert E. Lee, and Stuarts Draft)mentor a cadre of students starting in 10th grade through a collaboration with Virginia529 College Savings Plan. This program inspires and assists high school students by encouraging post-secondary education through a 3-year mentoring process that includes community service, good grades, appropriate behavior and regular attendance at school. 98% of participants have graduated from high school. Over a three year period, students have the opportunity to earn $2,000 in scholarship funding.

Current Operating Budget: $994,396

Program Budget: $117,757

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