Augusta County nonprofit receives $250,000 in state funding

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:13 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - A nonprofit in Augusta County scored some major funding on Tuesday to go toward its educational programs. RISE is a nonprofit focused on supporting African American communities in the Valley and on Tuesday it received $250,000 in state funding.

“Anytime I can see programs where it fosters helping children as I was helped as a little kid, I’m behind it and I will get behind it. At the end of the day, you can massage it all you want and tell them how great they are but it also requires some money,” said Delegate John Avoli.

Avoli is a Republican who represents the 20th District encompassing parts of Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro.

He has been working for two years to secure funding for RISE, and with the help of other legislators and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle Sears, he was able to pass a budget amendment giving the organization $250,000.

“It will allow us to be able to not worry so much about how we’re going to fund some of these programs that we’re developing. Things we’ve had to put on hold because we have not had the funding we’ll be able to do now,” said Sharon Fitz, CEO of RISE.

When Del. Avoli first began researching RISE he could immediately see the positive impact it was having on the children of the community and was glad to be able to support it.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to come together and really do something wonderful for the community. It’s already paid off you can see kids that have graduated from here they’re out in the community, they’re working,” he said.

The organization offers afterschool and summer school programs that have helped children improve across several areas.

“Critical thinking, kind of building vocabulary, building their reading skills, and we use word problems so that they’re both learning to think critically and figure out how to do math,” said Fitz.

Since it only recently learned it would be receiving the funding, RISE doesn’t yet have a set plan for how to use all of it but CEO Sharn Fitz said the money will help it expand its educational programs to support more local children.

“I like the fact that they’re dealing with youth, young kids, reading it’s imperative. Also respect, and accountability, you can see it in these kids, they’ve got their full attention. These are teaching aspects of what a community does to raise children,” said Avoli.

Avoli said that funding for the organization was part of larger efforts across the state to increase education funding, a top priority of Governor Glenn Youngkin. He added that it was great to see the bipartisanship that allowed for the increase in education resources.

“When it came to funding for public education, school resource officers, and pay increases it was nice to see that it was purely nonpartisan. It was a good effort of two sides coming together to say ‘Look let’s put our stuff aside and let’s do what’s good and what’s right for people,’” he said.

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