The Alleghany Foundation Awards Latest Grants

The Alleghany Foundation has announced that five grants have been recently awarded to support a range of programs in the Alleghany Highlands.

The grants, totaling approximately $344,000, were awarded to the Alleghany Highlands YMCA, the Alleghany Highlands Arts Council, Garth Newel Music Center, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, and Special Olympics – Area 18.

“These grants reflect important work that contributes to strengthening the Alleghany Highlands and the targeted work in the foundation’s focus areas, which are Economic Transformation, Educational Attainment, Health and Wellness, Leadership and Civic Vitality, and Community Capacity,” said Dr. Michele K. Ballou, president of The Alleghany Foundation Board of Directors. “We hope these grants will help prepare our youth for success in school and beyond as well as enhance the quality of life in the region.”

The Alleghany Highlands YMCA’s Early Learning Program received $204,472. This grant will fund the required local cash match for participants in the Virginia Preschool Initiative. The VPI distributes state funds to schools and community-based organizations to provide quality preschool programs for at-risk four-year-olds unserved by Head Start.

The YMCA is contracted by Alleghany County Public Schools to conduct the local program for approximately 45 youngsters who will be entering the school system the following year.  This grant award provides financial assistance to offset the cost of childcare and early learning programs for working families in the Alleghany Highlands who cannot afford the full cost of this developmental program.

“I have a strong belief that developmentally appropriate preschool education provides children a strong start in life physically, emotionally and mentally,” said Alleghany Highlands YMCA CEO Jennifer F. Unroe. “It pays multiple dividends to communities.”

Unroe cited data from the documentary series, “The Raising of America.” Perry Preschool was an experiment for low-income children in Ypsilanti, Mich., from 1962 to 1967. The children, along with a control group, have been tracked now for almost 50 years. Arthur Rolnick, former senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Minn., studied the data and found: “The children in the high-quality program were less likely to be retained in the first grade, were less likely to need special education, were more likely to be literate by the sixth grade, graduate high school, get a job, pay taxes, start a family. And the crime rate between the two groups, the randomized group and the control group, the crime rate goes down 50 percent.”

“According to the documentary, the return on investment is 7-10 percent per annum,” Unroe said.

The foundation also awarded $90,323 to the Alleghany Highlands Arts Council in matching funds and residency activities for 2016-17.

Since 1953, the Alleghany Highlands Arts Council has presented performing arts events to local residents of all ages, backgrounds and socio-economic levels. Along with its Performing Arts Series, the Alleghany Highlands Arts Council is expanding its programming this year to add a performance series at the Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge.

“While there are other entities that sponsor various shows, the Alleghany Highlands Arts Council feels it has a higher mission than mere entertainment,” said Tammy Scruggs-Duncan, executive director of the arts council. “We utilize the arts to meet needs within the community, to elevate the collective conscientiousness and develop cultural enrichment within the community – in short, change lives.”

“We couldn’t do this without the help of The Alleghany Foundation,” Scruggs-Duncan added.

Changing young lives is a hallmark of the Garth Newel Music Center’s Allegheny Mountain String Project, which was the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the foundation.

Now in its sixth year, the Allegheny Mountain String Project is a strings education and youth orchestra program serving Alleghany, Bath and Highland County school-age students. The program provides private lessons, small ensembles and a youth orchestra. Each year, the Allegheny Mountain String Project has increased its engagement in the community with more ensemble performances and concerts.

This year, the program has expanded by adding a dedicated cello space in the Alleghany County Studio at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts. This addition is part of an ongoing plan to increase the faculty in order to reach more children in the community. Additional funding was sought to pay for a second teaching space at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts, mileage for the cello instructor from Lexington and additional scholarships for new students as the program expands.

“Funding from The Alleghany Foundation is essential to our goal of providing string education to every interested student, regardless of their financial ability,” said Jaime McArdle, director and instructor for the Allegheny Mountain String Project. “Our program is unique and strong as a private program because we are able to offer scholarships and subsidize ensemble instruction so that no child who wants to learn violin, viola or cello is turned away because they cannot afford instruction or an instrument. This factor has helped create one of the most successful and vibrant private string programs I’ve ever seen.”

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College’s 2016 Summer Institute for Area Teachers was the recipient of a $20,000 grant to offer two sessions: “Adolescent Literacy in the Content Areas” for teachers in grades 6-12 and “Differentiation Through Choice,” offered to grades K-5 instructors.

Dianne Garcia, an education consultant with The Alleghany Foundation, worked with school administrators at DSLCC to develop the program and budget. The grant covered expenses for instructors, teaching supplies and materials, other expenses and full tuition costs for up to 25 teachers in each session.

In January, The Alleghany Foundation shifted away from having two defined grant application cycles each year — spring and fall — to accepting applications on a rolling basis. Though it still takes the standard two to three months for the review process, community members should anticipate that grant announcements will also be taking place on an as-needed basis.

“In shifting away from defined application cycles, the board hoped that applicants would feel in a position to develop ideas and then apply for funding when ready as opposed to feeling pushed to meet specific deadlines,” Dr. Ballou said.

Alleghany Foundation Executive Director Mary Fant Donnan added, “With the ongoing application system, it is also helpful to be aware that there are many active, ongoing grants as well. For example, coming into 2016, there were 82 individual grants funding work in 32 organizations for a total of $10,059,670. Some of these will span multiple years.”

Alleghany Highlands YMCA

  • Alleghany Highlands YMCA Early Learning – $204,475
    (Educational Attainment)                                                

Alleghany Highlands Arts Council

  • Matching Funds and Residency Activities 2016-17 – $90,323
    (Community Capacity)                                                      

Garth Newel Music Center

  • Allegheny Mountain String Project – $25,000
    (Community Capacity)

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College

  • DSLCC 2016 Summer Institute for Area Teachers – $20,000
    (Educational Attainment)                                                               

Special Olympics – Area 18

  • Bus Insurance, Uniforms, Equipment – $4,750
    (Health and Wellness)

Total – $344,545

For a complete list of grantees, visit the foundation’s website at

About the Alleghany Foundation: The Alleghany Foundation was established in 1995 in Covington with $35 million in proceeds from the sale of Alleghany Regional Hospital. The foundation’s vision is to be a resource for and partner with eligible organizations to make the Alleghany Highlands a civically engaged, prosperous region that builds upon its assets to produce opportunities for its residents.

The total annual awards from The Alleghany Foundation now add up to more than $50 million.

For more information about the foundation, visit