Virginia Ready Reaches Milestone Enrollment of 1,000 Scholars

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In six months, VA Ready has helped one thousand Virginians reskill for a career path with better opportunities

“Hitting this milestone is truly humbling, gratifying, heartwarming, and perhaps most importantly, encouraging. This number represents 1,000 Virginians who found the courage in difficult times to learn new skills and earn a credential. We salute them." -- Caren Merrick, CEO of VA Ready

The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready), a 501(c)(3) public-private partnership dedicated to retraining under- and unemployed Virginians and helping them secure in-demand positions, today celebrates the official enrollment of 1,000 Scholars across the state.

“Hitting this milestone is truly humbling, gratifying, heartwarming, and perhaps most importantly, encouraging,” said Caren Merrick, chief executive officer of VA Ready. “This number represents 1,000 Virginians who found the courage in difficult times to learn new skills and earn a credential. We salute them.”

VA Ready was established to address the economic disruption many Virginians are experiencing, with the goal of getting at least 15,000 under- or unemployed Virginia residents back to work.

VA Ready helps to recruit, incentivize, and award people who enroll in one of 34 credential programs in Healthcare, IT and Cybersecurity, or Manufacturing and Skilled Trades offered through the Virginia Community College System FastForward program.

To date nearly 200 people have earned a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award for finishing the program and successfully receiving their credential. They may also receive an opportunity to interview with one of VA Ready’s 24 business partners. Whether for PwC, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, Carilion Clinic, Genworth Financial, Bank of America, BAE Systems or other partners, VA Ready Scholars can post their resume on VA Ready’s job opportunities board and be connected to relevant opportunities within those companies.

In addition, the General Assembly recently passed funding that the Virginia Community College System can use to help students pay for any one of the 34 credentials VA Ready supports.

This new VA Ready State Aid Fund is a funding source offered throughout the Commonwealth and available to all VA Ready Scholars enrolled in any VA Ready-approved FastForward course within the Virginia Community College System. These funds, paired with FastForward support, make a course entirely free.

“VA Ready business partners are looking for strong, qualified candidates for thousands of open positions,” added Merrick. “This initiative has succeeded not only in getting Virginians back to work, but in strengthening the businesses and organizations that are the foundation of our economy.”

VA Ready Scholars come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds – more than a third have entered the program with only a high school education, and another 20% after receiving a college or graduate degree – and interests. Based on enrollment, interest in manufacturing and skilled trades is most popular among all age groups, followed by healthcare and computer technology.

Individuals whom VA Ready has helped have said:

“Participating in VA Ready is one of the many steps I've taken to improve myself, avoid poverty, and provide for my daughter.” – Cierra Jordan, Marine Trade Training Coating Level 1 from Virginia Beach

“This is a very big chance also for anybody who wants to pursue their education, to go and use the opportunities given by VA Ready. The comfort and education that you get at the same time will help you for your lifetime.” – Mewael Hailegiorgis, Billing and Coding Specialist graduate from Arlington

“It [VA Ready] gives me more opportunity, and I’m more marketable because I have additional licenses.” – Rebecca Austin, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant graduate from Richmond

“For me, this opportunity with the Virginia Ready program is my life. Going to school at 46-years-old, two days a week, three hours a day, trying to get these certifications and get the job experience to make myself marketable.” – Grayson Hopkins, Comp TIA Network+ graduate from Roanoke

For more information about the VA Ready Initiative or to apply for the program, visit https://vaready.org/

About the Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready)
VA Ready is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that launched in June 2020 with a mission to help thousands of under and unemployed Virginians access the short-term training needed to get back to work in today’s most in-demand jobs. With its Public-Private-Partnership design, VA Ready brings together the Virginia Community College System's (VCCS) 23 colleges, the Commonwealth's FastForward program, and more than 20 business partners who employ millions of Virginians. VA Ready Scholars have access to 34 healthcare, technology and other skilled training programs; learn the skills needed to secure one of today's most in-demand positions; receive $1,000 upon credential completion; and are connected to VA Ready's business partners for interview opportunities. Learn more at http://www.vaready.org

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Nicole Tidei
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