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ACCESS College Foundation News & Updates

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June 18, 2021

Letter to the Access Family and our Community:

Last year at this time, the Access College Foundation joined many organizations in standing in solidarity against racism and social injustice.  We are continuing that pledge and want to let you know some of the things that we have done over the past year to move forward in our promises.

First, expanding educational opportunities is where the Access College Foundation has particular expertise and so we want to continue to excel in our college access and success skills.  Services we provide to our students and our community were more critical than ever over this season of a global pandemic and we successfully assisted nearly 15,000 students from grade 7 through college completion this school year and helped 1,800 seniors from the Class of 2021 leverage $21 million in financial aid and scholarships to continue their education beyond high school.  These were students of all races, genders, family income and preferences with no difference in how each one was treated and served.

Second, there were several action steps that we acknowledged would need to be fully incorporated into our organizational culture and here is the progress we have made:

1. We created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force to allow us to continue to build an environment of cultural competence for our staff and students so we all can make a difference in creating a just society. The Task Force has accomplished the following:

a. Created a DEI calendar that highlights and celebrates many cultural groups and activities inside and outside of the organization.

b. Planned to expand activities to include special training for our team with the potential to use that training with students as well.

c. Conducted quarterly DEI activities to create an open dialogue about the experiences of our team in order to provide greater understanding for all of us and allow us to find ways to better support both our team and our students.

2. We continued to ensure that our Access team is reflective of our community.

3. We continued to work on increasing the diversity of our Board of Directors to ensure that it is also reflective of the community we serve.

4. We fully engaged our Alumni Committee of current and former Access Scholars during the year and will utilize them to help us drive our program services and culture over this next year.

5. Following the establishment of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, we embraced Juneteenth as a holiday for all employees.

We will continue to stand against injustice of all types and to improve the futures of our students and this community.


With great respect and love,

Bonnie B. Sutton
President and CEO

ACCESS College Commitment Day 2019

Our fourth annual College Commitment Day, held on April 30, 2019 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, was a huge success!

Thanks to our Presenting Partner Old Dominion University and Diamond Elite Partner Virginia529, nearly 2,200 Southside and Northampton County high school seniors were able to celebrate their college acceptances in a BIG way.

Event Partners and Access Staff collectively awarded scholarships totaling $30,000!  For the fourth year in a row, Z104's Shaggy brought the house down with his energy and music.  Check out the news coverage of the event on WVEC, WAVY, WTKR, The Virginian-Pilot and Suffolk News Herald.

To the Class of 2019: Congratulations on your hard work. You deserve all the success in the world!


ACCESS Remembers Anne Shumadine

It is with heavy hearts that we share the loss of Anne Shumadine.

Anne was a founding board member of ACCESS College Foundation in 1988 and served as Board Chairman from 1996-2002. She was named a lifelong Emeritus Director in 2005.

Anne was integral to ACCESS from the very beginning. “In the early days, we relied on her legal expertise for our Articles of Incorporation and our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status,” says ACCESS President and CEO, Bonnie Sutton. “We have relied on her for just about everything else since.”

In 2005, along with Frank Batten, Josh Darden, Joan Brock and Tommy Johnson, Anne was made one of five initial Emeritus Directors, a position created for directors who had made an extraordinary difference to the foundation.

For Bonnie, Anne was one of her personal mentors. “Anne was a great leader with great leadership principles to follow. She had passion, compassion and the ability to think strategically on behalf of ACCESS,” says Bonnie. “As I think of the founding of ACCESS 30 years ago, I think of Frank, Josh and Anne involved in all aspects from the very first day. She was a remarkable woman.”

In last year’s annual report, Anne was asked what she thought about what ACCESS has become. “Whenever I go to something for ACCESS, I’m amazed at the new people who are there. To me, it’s an easy thing to support. I think when we sat around in 1989 and dreamed about what ACCESS could do, this is what it would be.”

“We are extraordinarily grateful for Anne’s service and friendship, both to those she touched through ACCESS, and to our Hampton Roads community at large,” says ACCESS Board Chairman, Frank Batten, Jr. “Anne was integral to so much of the foundation’s success and she will be greatly missed. ”

Anne’s legacy will live on in our hearts as we continue the work she loved here at ACCESS College Foundation.

ACCESS Receives 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator!

June 6, 2018 -- ACCESS is pleased to announce that we have again received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. This marks the 7th consecutive year in a row we've achieved this distinction!

Charity Navigator is America's largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. Charity Navigator works to provide clear, objective and reliable assessments of both the financial health and accountability/transparency of charities, allowing donors to feel confident in the charities they support. A 4-star rating indicates an organization exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause.

Only 4% of charities evaluated receive 4-star evaluations for 7 consecutive years, and we're proud to be one of them!

To learn more about our rating, visit our profile on the Charity Navigator website here.