P.O. BOX 2120



October 17, 2008



Division Superintendents



Patricia I. Wright

Superintendent of Public Instruction



College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP)


On September 29, 2008, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced through a press release the award of $1.1 million through the U.S. Department of Education's College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP) to increase access to postsecondary education for students from low-income families. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) was selected by Governor Timothy Kaine to administer the grant program, which will provide information and services to help traditionally under-represented students and their families plan for and succeed in post-high school education.


SCHEV will use Challenge Grant funds to partner with other state agencies, private industry, and nonprofit organizations to reach out to Virginia students through an access campaign designed to demystify the college-going process. Challenge Grant funds will be used to create a comprehensive plan that focuses on encouraging students to develop educational goals, increase awareness of financial aid options, and direct families to local access providers. Funded projects include College Night Virginia, educational workshops offered by the Virginia Tidewater Consortium for Higher Education, and Super Saturday events to help families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which is considered the first step in applying for federal and state financial aid. Another of the plan's focus areas is the creation of professional development opportunities for middle and high school counselors and financial aid and admissions officers at postsecondary educational institutions.

The Challenge Grant plan also features a print and electronic marketing campaign to be capped off by the creation of a state-owned Web portal designed to increase students' knowledge of potential careers and the education options that can help them reach their goals. SCHEV will partner with the Virginia Department of Education, Virginia College Savings Plan, and Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) to establish and fund this online career and educational exploration and planning system.

For more information, visit or contact Dr. Monica Osei, assistant director for Academic Affairs and Planning and Student Programs, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-2610; or Joseph A. Wharff, school counseling specialist, Office of Middle and High School Instruction, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 786-9377.