Here’s a round-up of briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Virginia Tech sees record applications

For the second straight year, Virginia Tech has seen a record number of first-year applications for admission.

In a release, Tech said that 45,214 first-year applications poured in for fall 2022 admission – an increase of 7% over the previous record of 42,084 a year ago.

The gains include a 19% increase in applicants identified as first-generation college students. Black or African American applications surpassed the 2021 mark by 6%. Applications from Hispanic/Latino students realized a 9% increase while Native American applications rose 8%.

In 2018, Virginia Tech implemented changes in its admissions process, including the development of what it calls “a more holistic review process” and the introduction of two shared application platforms, the Coalition and the Common Application. Along with simplifying the fee waiver application process and allowing students to self-report their academic records, these changes have helped deepen the pool of applicants vying for a spot in Virginia Tech’s entering class, Tech said.

Early Decision applications also showed a gain, jumping by 20% for 2022.  Tech said that Early Decision is recommended for first-year applicants who have strong academic qualifications, select Virginia Tech as their first-choice school, and intend to enroll if admitted.

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A ceremonial check representing the up to $50,000 VCEDA grant approved for entrepreneurial skills training through the Napoleon Hill Foundation to benefit high school students in the region was presented recently to the Napoleon Hill Foundation. On hand for the presentation were, from left, Don Green, executive director/CEO of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, and VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher.

VCEDA awards grants for entrepreneurial skills training

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Coalfield Workforce Development and Training Fund has awarded up to $50,000 to the Napoleon Hill Foundation in Wise to be used for workforce development and training.

The funds will be used to assist with the development of a free online interactive course in entrepreneurial skills for high school students in the VCEDA region. The course, “Keys to Success,” is expected to get underway next month with a series of 17 modules which students enrolled in the course can complete at their own pace and based on their own schedules.

“In the pandemic world in which we all now live, the Napoleon Hill Foundation plans to begin an interactive online course for high school students, with the defined goal of boosting entrepreneurial business skills for those students interested in business as a career,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel, of the foundation’s plans for the grant. “Students from the VCEDA region are eligible to participate in the online program which also appears to be well-aligned with VCEDA’s seed capital program which encourages entrepreneurs in the region to pursue their goals of starting and maintaining small businesses and creating jobs.”

The Napoleon Hill Foundation, currently located on the campus of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation originally formed in 1962 in South Carolina. 

The foundation is named after Napoleon Hill, who was born in Wise County in 1883 and who died in 1970.  His books have sold millions of copies worldwide. He is best known for his self-help book “Think and Grow Rich,” which was first published in 1937. The tenets of Hill’s writings are based upon the concepts of freedom, capitalism, democracy and harmony. 

To learn more, interested students may visit College credit is not yet available for the course, but foundation director Don Green said efforts are underway to make the course a credit course.

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Virginia Tech one of 15 institutions to win grant to strengthen workforce learning, academic experiences

Virginia Tech has been selected as one of 15 universities in the nation to participate in the initial phase of a $10 million grant challenge aimed at helping higher education institutions identify and expand new solutions that will improve career and life opportunities for more students of color, first-generation students, those who struggle to afford education, and adult students and workers.

Tech received the maximum of $250,000 for a one-year pilot program.

The Strada Education Network, in partnership with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity for the Beyond Completion Challenge, announced Virginia Tech’s selection. No other Virginia school was on the list.

Tech’s winning proposal focuses on expanding the university’s Presidential Scholars scholarship and student support program to reach more students from low-income households. Virginia Tech will also add research, project-based work and paid internships to the program to facilitate student success in transition to the workforce. Grant funds through Strata will go toward supporting an additional 72 Presidential Scholars and expanded workforce learning opportunities.

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Part of U.S. 460 in Giles County to be reduced to one land through February

Drivers on U.S. 460 in Giles County between Narrows and Rich Creek can expect a traffic pattern change starting next week due to planned retaining wall maintenance, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Weather permitting, starting Monday, U.S. 460 traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction with two-way traffic using the eastbound side of U.S. 460. As long as weather permits, work will continue on the retaining walls, and two-way traffic will remain shifted into the eastbound lanes, VDOT says.

Work is expected to be completed in late February.