The Harvest Foundation on Thursday announced a 13-year, $10.3 million grant to Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) to support the SEED Fund, which will ensure a college education is available at no cost to every high school graduate in Martinsville-Henry County.
“The SEED Fund makes us the envy of many communities across our country,” said Bill Kirby, chairman of The Harvest Foundation Board of Directors. “It gives us an edge on the competition when our economic developers are recruiting, and it gives our children a concrete goal to strive toward from an early age.”
The SEED Fund was established at P&HCC in 2017 as a three-year pilot program. Since the inception of the program, the first two cohorts of SEED students are completing college at a rate that is double the national average for community college students.
Fall to spring retention rates increased by six percent while fall to fall retention rates increased by sixteen percent. SEED students are staying in school and earning credentials at higher rates than their counterparts.
“There are many of us here today who are not educators,” said Kate Keller, president of The Harvest Foundation. “But we all know the commitment, effort, and resources it takes to be a college graduate. We also know the earning power and positive outcomes that benefit those with a college education. For many students, the desire to attend college is there, they just need reassurance that it is possible and within their reach. The SEED Fund gives them that reassurance and hope.”
According to Dr. Greg Hodges, president of P&HCC, this is the largest investment in history at P&HCC, but it is also much more.
“It is an investment in the power of hope for a better future for our community,” Hodges said. “Starting today, the question of ‘can I afford to go to college’ will never again be asked by a school-age student in Martinsville-Henry County. As of this moment, the financial barrier of attending college has been removed for an entire generation.”
The announcement ended with the planting of a Dogwood tree as a symbol for this year’s kindergarten class.
“We hope when these kindergartners grow up and become SEED students, they will visit this very spot and reflect on their educational journeys, and dream about their futures,” Keller said.
To qualify for the SEED Fund, a high school graduate must have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.5. They must be a resident of Martinsville-Henry County and have in-state residency status at the time of the award. SEED students must file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year, and complete eight hours of community service prior to July 31 for each year of participation.
Students are eligible immediately following graduation from high school, completing a GED program (high-school age population only), or a homeschool program. Once an application to the fall semester at P&HCC is completed, an application to the SEED Fund must be completed on time.
To find out more about the SEED Fund, visit www.patrickhenry.edu/seed. Visit www.theharvestfoundation.org for additional information on the foundation and its programming.