Lynchburg Beacon of Hope and Lynchburg Community Come Together to Announce First PROMISE Program of Its Kind in Virginia

Scholarships to Attend Colleges, Universities, Technical School Offered to LCS Seniors from 2019-2026

Beginning in the spring of 2019, all graduates of the two schools—approximately 550 students—will be eligible for scholarships to attend local colleges, universities or accredited technical certification programs. The Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarship Program is sponsored and funded by Lynchburg Beacon of Hope in partnership with seven of the area’s institutions of higher learning. They include Central Virginia Community College, Centra College of Nursing, Liberty University, Longwood University, University of Lynchburg, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College. 

“I’m convinced [The Promise] is going to have a profound and transformational effect on the City of Lynchburg,” said CVCC President John Capps. “The higher the level of education the lower the level of poverty and the greater the quality of life.”

Stay Close, Go Far will invest up to $8,000 per student over two years to attend Central Virginia Community College and a like amount over four years to attend any of the other schools. Ten more scholarships will be provided on a competitive basis to Lynchburg City Schools (LCS) graduates who continue their postsecondary education outside the area.

The program is the first local initiative of its type in Virginia. It is unique compared to other free community college programs because it also offers a financial incentive to attend school beyond the two-year community college level. Students are able to choose the postsecondary education that best meets their individual needs. In addition the Beacon of Hope Future Centers and LCS Counseling resources help young people identify a pathway to post-secondary education.

Stay Close, Go Far was announced September 12 at a ceremony at E. C. Glass attended by seniors from both the city’s high schools. LCS seniors qualify for scholarships by going to either Glass or Heritage for four years, using the career planning resources provided by Beacon of Hope Future Centers at each school, and remaining academically eligible at the local college or university of their choice.

“It’s a wonderful time to be a student in Lynchburg City,” said Lynchburg City Schools Superintendent Dr. Crystal M. Edwards. “The support Beacon of Hope provides in partnership with LCS—both through the scholarships and the Future Centers– provides an amazing opportunity to take our students not just to graduation but beyond. That is what makes this initiative so unique and exciting.”

Beacon of Hope Executive Director Laura Hamilton said the goals of Stay Close, Go Far are twofold: to help eliminate the financial barriers that prevent students from attending college and to both train and retain Lynchburg’s workforce of the future. “Lynchburg’s Promise is really quite different from other Promise programs around the country, she said. “It is a bi-lateral approach.  Beacon of Hope works hand-in-hand with Lynchburg City Schools through the Future Centers to eliminate the academic, social, organizational barriers that may have derailed students in the past—and the Promise helps to close the financial gap, remove the financial barriers that can roadblock our students’ futures.”

Data collected by the organization over the past six years shows that the average last dollar financial gap preventing LCS graduates from continuing their education is about $3,000 per year. “It’s important to fill that gap because a postsecondary degree—either from a college or a technical school—is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Hamilton said.

According to Marjette Upshur, City of Lynchburg Director of Economic Development, on average, Americans who complete college or technical certification degrees earn much more that those with a high school diploma, are less likely to fall into the grip of poverty, and are more secure when they retire. They work in safer environments, are more likely to have health insurance and stay employed, are better satisfied at work and live longer.
Hamilton likewise stressed the economic benefits of a better-educated workforce. “By investing in our young people today, we’ll increase the region’s pool of employees equipped to handle the jobs of tomorrow,” she said. “That’s a priority for our local businesses and industries.”
Gary Mignogna, president and CEO of Framatome and a member of the Beacon of Hope Board of Directors, echoed that point. “Framatome recognizes that we, along with the other major corporate entities in Central Virginia, must invest from within—in order to remain successful,” he said. “We hire technicians, we hire engineers, we hire scientists and we really needed a good pipeline.  So, it’s great to have a homegrown program that encourages students to get into a curriculum of their choice after high school, to complete their education, and then to stay right here.”

Capital Campaign Underway

As of 2022, Beacon of Hope completed a $7 million campaign to fund the Stay Close, Go Far Scholarships through the Class of 2026. Proceeds will be used to support Stay Close, Go Far scholarships and the Future Centers at E. C. Glass and Heritage high schools.

Funds also will be earmarked to expand related activities in the city’s elementary and middle schools, and to begin an educational support initiative for scholarship recipients attending Central Virginia Community College. In addition, the campaign will create an endowment that continues programming well into the future.

Read the September 12, 2018 Press Release
Read Article


Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far PROMISE…
How much is Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarship?

Last-Dollar FREE community college at CVCC

Or Last-dollar up to $2000/annually or up to $8000 total over 4 years per LCS graduate (2019-2024)

What exactly is Stay Close, Go Far: Lynchburg’s Promise?

Stay Close, Go Far: Lynchburg’s Promise is the first Promise Scholarship of its kind in Virginia. Using the Future Centers, nested inside LCS’s High Schools, Lynchburg’s Promise offers last-dollar scholarships to a universal population of LCS graduates (Classes 2019-2024 and we hope even longer into the future) who choose to pursue their post-secondary education at one of the region’s accredited colleges, universities, or technical certification programs.  

These include Central Virginia Community College, Centra College of Nursing, Liberty University, Longwood University, the University of Lynchburg, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College.

Students can receive:

  • Free community college at CVCC. This is up to a last-dollar scholarship in current dollars per student. The scholarship can be applied to Associates Degree programs as well as technical and industry certification programs and is paid by semester directly to CVCC on the student’s behalf over up-to two years.
  • OR A Scholarship of up to $2,000 per year (up to $8000 last-dollar per student over 4 years) to pursue her/her education at one of our accredited local four-year colleges and universities.  
  • Long-term access to the incredible support and resources of the Beacon of Hope Future Centers at Heritage and E. C. Glass High School.  And the support of the newly-formed Beacon of Hope Office of College Success and CVCC Future Center as our students move successfully through their post-secondary experiences.
What are the requirements for a student to take advantage of Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarships?
  • You must be a graduating senior from an LCS High School in the Classes 2019-2024. This is a 5-year Promise, but we hope, with this community’s support, to extend Lynchburg’s Promise for future LCS graduating classes.
  • You must have attended LCS at least from grades 9-12. Lynchburg’s Promise is designed not only to help our individual students access college and technical school, but to create an added incentive for families to choose LCS for their students’ secondary education.
  • You must complete the FAFSA and access all other scholarships and financial opportunities that are on the table.  Lynchburg’s Promise is a last-dollar scholarship.  This mean that families are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which helps students access Pell grants and other state/institution aid.  We believe that it doesn’t make sense to leave any accessible dollars for students on the table. We know that the incredible LCS high school counseling staffs partnering with the Beacon of Hope Future Centers are extraordinary resources to help our LCS families access numerous streams of financial aid, grants, and support.  This, in concert with Lynchburg’s Promise, can help close the financial gap experienced by many of Lynchburg’s families.
  • You must choose to pursue your post-secondary education at one of our region’s accredited colleges, universities, or technical certification programs. These include: Central Virginia Community College, Centra College of Nursing, Liberty University, Longwood University, the University of Lynchburg, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College. Technical Certification and Industry Trade Programs can be pursued at CVCC.
  • You must be academically eligible to return to your college/technical program each semester. Beacon of Hope, alongside each of our College and University partners, will work with LCS Promise graduates to access student supports and resources on campus that can help you be successful on your post-secondary journey. Scholarships are paid from Beacon of Hope directly to your college, so as long as your grades and performance permit you to return, we will continue to help close your financial gap.
  • You must complete the application the spring of your senior year of high school in order to be eligible to receive the scholarship. Beacon of Hope encourages students to complete the application even if they’re undecided on their final college choice so funding can be appropriately allocated.
  • Lynchburg’s Promise is UNIVERSALIt is not needs-based, which means it is not dependent on an LCS family’s income. It is not merit-based, which means it is not reserved for only our highest achieving students. It is for EVERY SINGLE GRADUATE of Lynchburg City Schools (Classes 2019-2024) who chooses to pursue education locally… who chooses to Stay Close, but Go Far.
Why is Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarships only applicable at the colleges/technical programs in and around Lynchburg?

Stay Close, Go Far Lynchburg’s Promise is a universal place-based scholarship program. It is a
tremendous community investment in our young people with some very important intended

  1. To empower and equip Lynchburg’s young people not only to dream about pursuing college
    or technical programs after high school, but to achieve those dreams
  2. To help create a home-grown, home-educated stream of young people ready to infuse
    Lynchburg’s workforce for the future
  3. To keep our young people here after earning both high school and post-secondary degrees,
    helping make this community a workforce ready community for the future
  4. To bolster an already successful and acclaimed school system by incentivizing pursuit of
    education through Lynchburg City Schools and onto the incredible resource of colleges,
    universities, and trade programs available to students in and around Lynchburg.
  5. To reduce Lynchburg’s rate of families living in poverty, helping to positively impact
    generational poverty

We believe that if we can help our young people to pursue education and training and Stay Close, they will help this community to Go Far.

What does “Last-dollar” mean when we talk about Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarships?

The Last-dollar Scholarship is a “gap-filling” award. It is awarded when a family’s expected family contribution (EFC) and financial aid package total are less than the cost of attendance; resulting in unmet financial need. In short, we expect Promise Scholarship recipients to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), apply for institutional aid at the local college, university, or trade program he/she chooses, and Beacon of Hope will help close the financial gap with a scholarship.

What do we expect of Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise scholars?

Lynchburg’s Promise represents a tremendous investment in the young people of Lynchburg—an investment made by thousands of people and families and businesses and corporations in Lynchburg. And as with any smart investment, this community expects significant returns on this investment.

  • We expect our Promise scholars invest in themselves by doing their best at E. .C Glass or at Heritage. We expect them to prepare to be as successful as they can be all the way through high school graduation and onto college, university, training, or technical programs. This means graduating on time and showing up for class ready to be engaged. It means thinking about their futures NOW, preparing applications and financial aid documents, it means completing scholarships, caring about transcripts. It means thinking and planning for tomorrow today.
  • We expect our Promise scholars to use the resources available to them. LCS students have an incredible wealth of post-secondary resources available to them that exist nowhere else. Lynchburg Beacon of Hope High School Future Centers– in partnership with the extraordinary school counseling staffs, administrators, and faculty at LCS—are making such significant strides in access to education and training after high school that the City of Richmond replicated them in five of its most underserved high schools.
  • We expect our Promise scholars to continue to invest in themselves as they pursue college or technical school. We expect them to access and regularly use the tools and resources available to them to help them succeed at their post-secondary programs—in the same way they diligently used their High School Future Centers, their incredible School Counselors, and their teachers, coaches, mentors, and peers back in high school. We all encounter road bumps along they—it’s the resilience, grit, determination, and willingness to accept help that we expect of our Promise
    recipients as they surmount those barriers.
  • We expect our Promise scholars to pay it forward. This is a really big deal. This community believes in our young people, our investment for the future, in such a profound way that they have pledged millions of dollars to help them succeed. The likes of a Promise like this one have never before been seen in Virginia. We expect our Promise scholars to believe in themselves and do everything in their power to successfully complete their program of choice after high school. We expect them to pay it forward to the 4+ classes of Promise scholars coming behind them—all the way through 2024 and hopefully beyond. We expect them to invest in this community that has invested in them—to complete college, to consider a career in this community, to give back to the community that believed in them.
What is the application process for Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarships?

Applications for Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarships are available online through our website starting on October 1st annually. Please use your high school Future Centers for any assistance needed. 

Who in this Community has been involved in the creation of Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarships?

Stay Close, Go Far: Lynchburg’s Promise is a true grassroots initiative. It has been a project in the making since 2012, the year Beacon of Hope opened our Future Centers and began an incredible partnership with Lynchburg City Schools.

Thousands of partners have contributed time, talent, and treasury to make this dream a reality including individuals and families, corporate headquarters, local small businesses, the region’s colleges and universities, the administrators and staff at Lynchburg City Schools, leaders within the City of Lynchburg, Friends of Beacon of Hope, Beacon of Hope’s campaign chair and committee, and the volunteer Board of Directors which has been so instrumental in the evolution of Beacon of Hope over the past 7 years.


No.  You can either (1) choose to use the Promise EITHER for free community college (last dollar) or (2) cover CVCC on your own and save your Promise for your junior and senior year at a Promise-eligible school.  If you choose (2), you will have an additional 2 years of Promise eligibility which you can use at one of the Promise-eligible schools to pursue graduate degrees, earn a second major, get a technical certification alongside your degree. 


Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise is a last-dollar scholarship. Scholarships are paid directly to our Stay Close, Go Far Promise colleges, universities and trade programs, not directly to the students themselves.  Stay Close, Go Far can apply toward mandatory institutional fees, including required tools or lab fees. Books and laptops are not included in the Stay Close, Go Far Scholarship. Please contact our Office of College Success if you would like assistance in applying for institutional aid for any unmet needs.

Can LCS Early College or XLR8 STEM Academy graduates take advantage of Lynchburg’s Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarships?

Yes, absolutely.  Students are eligible for their Stay Close, Go Far scholarship after they receive their High School diploma. Since Early College/STEM Academy LCS grads will already have earned your CVCC Associate’s Degree, you can use Lynchburg’s Promise (at up to $2,000 per year) to pursue your education for the next 4 years at one of our Stay Close, Go Far Promise college/universities.  This might mean getting a Bachelor’s Degree, pursuing your Master’s Degree after earning your Bachelor’s degree, pursuing a double major, or the like. 

Can a student appeal if they do not meet the eligibility requirements for a Stay Close, Go Far Scholarship?

In 2020, a pilot appeals process is being offered for students who do not meet the Stay Close, Go Far Scholarship criteria due to exceptional or extraordinary circumstances. A letter must be submitted by the student describing his/her extraordinary circumstance and reason for appeal.  Please see your Future Center Director at EC Glass or Heritage High School for details.