LCS Alumni and Beacon Scholars

Leidra McQueen and Laura Hamilton

The Lynchburg delegation

On Wednesday, November 16, Lynchburg Beacon of Hope was honored to, along with the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden and The College Promise Movement’s Dr. Martha Kanter, announce Promise Pathways: a national demonstration pilot project through Lynchburg Beacon of Hope.

An incredible Lynchburg delegation of students, civic leaders, and workforce leaders from Lynchburg joined Lynchburg Beacon of Hope leaders, Laura Hamilton and Leidra McQueen, at a convening in Washington DC November 16-17. That delegation included:

  • 5 Lynchburg City Schools/Beacon of Hope Student Alumni:
    • Lewis “DJ” Johnston – ECG 2016, CVCC 2019, Washington and Lee 2022
    • D’Arrin Calloway – HHS 2019, Virginia Tech 2023
    • Josh Price – ECG 2015, GMU 2020, GMU Graduate School 2024
    • Jaylin Davis – HHS 2019, CVCC 2020
    • Lucy Williams – ECG 2021, UVA 2025
  • Dr. John Capps, President of Central Virginia Community College
  • The Honorable MaryJane Dolan, Mayor of Lynchburg
  • Amy Carrier, President and CEO of Centra Health
  • Laura Hamilton and Leidra McQueen, Beacon of Hope Executive Director and Associate Director


Promise Pathways Announcement

LCS Alumni and Scholars Panel
LCS Alumni and Scholars Panel

Our five Lynchburg City Schools Alumni and Beacon Scholars hosted a panel discussion, moderated by Beacon of Hope's Leidra McQueen, exploring the challenges faced by students today and the resources that continue to support them on their often non-linear journeys.

Remarks from Dr. Jill Biden
Remarks from Dr. Jill Biden

The First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden delivered the keynote address during the conference. She was introduced by Beacon of Hope Scholar and EC Glass Alum Lewis "DJ" Johnston, who flew in from a fellowship in Cairo just 72 hours before the event. Dr. Biden spoke about the importance of community colleges as foundations for student success.

Lynchburg Panel Discussion
Lynchburg Panel Discussion

The day wrapped up with a panel discussion featuring Dr. John Capps, President of Central Virginia Community College, the Honorable MaryJane Dolan, Mayor of Lynchburg, Amy Carrier, President/CEO of Centra Health, and Laura Hamilton, Lynchburg Beacon of Hope Executive Director. The panel was moderated by Rosye Cloud, Senior Leader of College Promise.

Lewis “DJ” Johnston and D’Arrin Calloway


On Thursday, Nov 17, Forbes Online published a piece by guest authors D’Arrin Calloway (HHS 2019 and Virginia Tech 2023) and Lewis “DJ” Johnston (ECG 2016, CVCC 2019, and Washington and Lee 2022). 

The article describes each of their pathways to and through LCS, Beacon of Hope scholarships, and post-secondary education, and illuminates the challenges they faced and the resources which helped them succeed. 


And now the 2+-year work of the Promise Pathways Pilot Project begins. Lynchburg Beacon of Hope will partner with College Promise and benefit from the good work of other leaders in the Promise Scholarship Movement (Hope Chicago and Hope Toledo) who are already working the populations of students who ‘pause’ in their educational journeys.  Beacon of Hope will:

  • Continue our work in the High School Future Centers with hundreds of Lynchburg City students each year.  We will continue to support the now 400+ students who are in school and technical certification programs on a Stay Close, Go Far Scholarship. 
  • Expand our Stay Close Summer Internship Program to reach more high school students and extend these supports to our LCS graduates whose pathways are non-linear, who may have paused, or who may have encountered barriers that so many students across the nation face. 
  • Finally, we’ll be working with a new population for Beacon of Hope called ‘2Gen’ learners–the parents, family members, grandparents of our Promise Scholars.  We will connect our nontraditional students with the supports and resources that have been so successful for our younger scholars and work to engage a broader population in Lynchburg to workforce readiness, credentialing and ultimately jobs.  

This is an exciting time for the City of Lynchburg, for LCS graduates and their families, and for Lynchburg Beacon of Hope.  We hope to help change Lynchburg:  one graduate, one credential, one degree and one job at a time.