Augusta County Nonprofit Receives $250,000 in State Funding
WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) — An Augusta County nonprofit secured major funding for its educational programs on Tuesday. ASCEND is a nonprofit focused on supporting African American communities in the Valley and on Tuesday received $250,000 in state funding.
“Whenever I see programs that encourage helping children like I was helped when I was little, I’m behind it and I will support it. At the end of the day, you can massage them all you want and tell them how awesome they are, but that also takes money,” said delegate John Avoli.
Avoli is a Republican who represents the 20th District encompassing parts of Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro.
He has worked for two years to secure funding for RISE, and with the help of other lawmakers and Lt. Governor Winsome Earle Sears, he was able to pass a budget amendment granting the organization $250,000.
“It will allow us not to worry too much about how we are going to finance some of these programs that we are developing. Things that we had to put on hold because we didn’t have the funding that we can do now,” said Sharon Fitz, CEO of RISE.
When Del. Avoli started researching RISE, he could immediately see the positive impact it had on children in the community and was happy to be able to support it.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to come together and really do something wonderful for the community. It’s already paying off, you can see the kids who have graduated here, they’re in the community, they’re working,” he said.
The organization offers after-school and summer programs that have helped children improve in several areas.
“Critical thinking, kind of building vocabulary, developing their reading skills, and we’re using word problems so they both learn to think critically and figure out how to do math,” said Fitz said.
Since it only recently learned that it would be receiving the funding, RISE doesn’t yet have a set plan for how it will all be used, but CEO Sharn Fitz said the money will help it expand its educational programs to support more local children.
“I like the fact that they are dealing with young people, young children, reading is imperative. Also respect and responsibility, you can see in these children, they have their full attention. These are pedagogical aspects of what a community does to raise children,” Avoli said.
Avoli said funding the organization is part of larger efforts across the state to increase funding for education, a top priority for Gov. Glenn Youngkin. He added that it was great to see the bipartisanship that enabled the increase in educational resources.
“When it comes to public education funding, school resource officers, and pay raises, it was nice to see it was purely non-partisan. It was a good effort from both sides coming together to say, ‘Let’s look, let’s put our stuff aside and do what’s right and what’s right for the people,'” he said.
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