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SWCC Educational Foundation Receives Major Gift from the Genan Foundation

Anne and Gene Worrell image

Published on February 22nd, 2023

Last modified August 2nd, 2023 11:05 am

(SWCC) The Southwest Virginia Community College Education Foundation has received a $637,355 donation from the Charlottesville, Va. based Genan Foundation to financially support two vital student-oriented programs at the college. The Great Expectations Program and the Honors Program at Southwest Virginia Community College will utilize the funding to support each of their student-based service missions.

Great Expectations is a statewide program within the Virginia Community College System that supports students ages 17-24 who are aging out of the foster care system.  Often these students are left with little support, specifically since family financial support is often not available for them.

After aging out of the foster care system, Autumn Murray found herself on her own. “I was homeless for a little while. They (Great Expectations) provided me with a stipend for rent, and I was able to get my own apartment,” said Murray, who graduated from Southwest in 2021.

Great Expectation students receive support while attending Southwest with personalized counseling, career exploration, networking with mentors, life skills training, tutoring, and access to emergency funding to help with unforeseen events. 

“I don’t know what I would have done without them.” said Murray. 

The Honors Program at the college challenges academically, well prepared students. Funding will be used to help students pay for experiential learning trips on a local, national, and global level. These trips challenge students and allow them to see a world beyond our local area.

Students in the Honors Program engage with in-depth subject exploration, research, and a variety of service and leadership opportunities.

The philanthropy efforts of the Genan Foundation were started by the late Gene and Anne Worrell. The couple met working as camp counselors in southwest Virginia, sharing a love of outdoor adventures. 

Anne grew up in Surry, Va. where she swam across the James River as a young girl, followed by a friend in a rowboat.  Gene learned Appalachian hunting and farming traditions as well as entrepreneurial skills from his grandparents.

As first generation college students, the Worrells were passionate about access to higher education.  At sixteen, Gene earned a scholarship to Wake Forest University, while Anne attended Virginia Intermont College. They exemplified a never-give-up spirit in every endeavor.

Anne and Gene built their company, Worrell Newspapers, from the ground up, starting in Bristol in 1949. It expanded to include more than thirty papers across the country. In 1986, they created The Genan Foundation to support their commitment to philanthropy.

For more information visit the following pages:

Great Expectations: sw.edu/greatexpectations

Honors Program: sw.edu/honors-program

For information regarding scholarships or endowments at Southwest Virginia Community College or for interest in supporting an existing scholarship program, contact Susan Lowe at 276-964-7304 or susan.lowe@sw.edu.


About Southwest Virginia Community College: Established in 1967, Southwest Virginia Community College is a two-year institution of higher education serving primarily the residents of the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson (partial), Russell and Tazewell. Offering more than 90 programs of study, Southwest has served more than 114,000 students since opening. In addition to credit-based programs, Southwest offers fast-track training and industry recognized credentials. For more information, please visit http://www.sw.edu 

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