In a new outreach initiative, Virginia Western Community College will offer career advising, financial aid assistance and job training starting this fall at the newly renovated Roanoke EnVision Center.
The College joins other community resource providers moving into the Roanoke EnVision Center, which is operated by the Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RRHA) with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Roanoke EnVision Center will celebrate its grand opening at 10 a.m. Oct. 7, 2022, in its new standalone location at 2607 Salem Turnpike N.W., across from the RRHA’s office and adjacent to Landsdowne Park, the city of Roanoke’s largest public housing development. The building is the former location of the Melrose Branch Library; the city sold the property to RRHA after the library branch was relocated to a nearby space in 2019.
“Virginia Western is delighted to bring its resources directly into the Northwest community,” said College President Dr. Robert H. Sandel. “We recognize that accessibility can make all the difference in a student pursuing an education. We’ll be there, as a convenient neighborhood resource, ready to serve current students or talk to those who are curious and want to know more about what we offer.”
EnVision Centers are supported across the United States, including six others in Virginia. However, the Roanoke location is especially significant because it’s the first college satellite to be located on public housing in the Commonwealth, Sandel said.
EnVision Centers aim to offer HUD-assisted families access to support services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency. They are built around four pillars: economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.
Partners at the Roanoke EnVision Center will include: Carilion Clinic, with community health workers on-site; The Harvest Collective and Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, which have helped plant a community garden facing Salem Avenue; Family Service of Roanoke Valley, which will provide full-time mental health wellness; and the Roanoke Financial Empowerment Center, which will offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling at no cost to Roanoke residents. The building houses a training room, a classroom, a telehealth suite and client meeting rooms.
“This Roanoke EnVision Center is built on the notion that financial support alone is insufficient to solve the problem of poverty,” said David Bustamante, RRHA Executive Director. “We are making an intentional and collective effort across a diverse set of organizations to foster long-lasting self-sufficiency.”
Plans are still in the works for what Virginia Western will offer at the location. “We are interested in hearing what the community would like to see,” Sandel said. “We also are working with employers who are always interested in connecting with our students.”
Workshops on applying for Virginia Western’s Community College Access Program (CCAP) will be scheduled on-site later this fall. CCAP is a public-private partnership that provides up to three years of tuition to recent high school graduates.
“The RRHA is so excited to present our partnership with Virginia Western – it demonstrates both the College’s generosity and capability to provide much-needed educational resources in our community,” Bustamante said.
Virginia Western’s main campus on Colonial Avenue currently serves more than 4,000 students. The College also offers classes and job training at the Claude Moore Education Complex in Gainsboro, the Franklin Center for Advanced Learning and Enterprise in Rocky Mount and the Greenfield Training and Education Center in Daleville. It was a founding partner in the RAMP business accelerator in downtown Roanoke.
The Roanoke EnVision Center is open to the public weekdays from 8:30 to 5 p.m. For more information, call (540) 983-9210.
To learn more about Virginia Western at the Roanoke EnVision Center, contact Milan Hayward, Vice President of Career & Corporate Training, at (540) 857-6680 or email [email protected].