Cindy Didawick worked as a teacher in Staunton for three decades.
She has helped hundreds of students, many of whom have graduated and moved on to college.
However, for some of her students, higher education was never an option.
"Parents have talked to me over my 30 years that had a very gifted child. Neither one of them chose to go to college and no one in their family had. They didn't know what to do," explains Didawick.
Didawick is also a parent.
Her son went through the Staunton City Schools system and eventually graduated from James Madison University.
She hopes many other Valley students have the same opportunities.
Didawick says, "I was also concerned about kids that fill in all the paperwork and get all the scholarships, and it is still only 90 percent. Where are they going to get the other ten percent?"
That is where a new partnership between the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge and a Virginia non-profit known as the Great Aspirations Scholarship Program steps in to help.
Through donations from people like Didawick, Community Foundation President Becky kKohler plans to bring financial aid counselors to high schools all over the southern part of the Valley.
Kohler says, "There is so much money that is available that is not tapped into. Even scholarships at the Community Foundation, we had several scholarships where students did not apply."
The counselors will connect students with loan, grant and scholarship information and even allow them to receive money from local businesses and donors.
"This supplements what they are doing and gives students access to information that guidance counselors may not know about," adds Kohler.
Through local donations, Kohler's plan is to hire one part-time financial aid counselor at each high school for one day a week.
Every student will have access to their services.
The partnership will assist students in the following high schools during the 2010-2011 school year: Robert E. Lee, Waynesboro, Wilson Memorial, Stuarts Draft, Fort Defiance, Highland County, Buffalo Gap, Nelson County and Riverheads.
© Copyright 2013 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.