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United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.

Learn More

Anne and Gene Worrell Foundation Commits $1.5 Million to Regional Workforce and Childcare Hub

December 12, 2023

Abingdon, VA (December 11, 2023) - United Way of Southwest Virginia (UWSWVA) is excited to announce a funding commitment of $1.5 million from the Anne and Gene Worrell Foundation (formerly the Genan Foundation) for the Regional Workforce and Child Development Hub.

“Anne and Gene Worrell, the foundation’s founders, were known for their compassion of all living things and their loyalty to Virginia and its people-first-generation college students who believed in educational opportunities for all,” explained Shannon Worrell, Vice President, on behalf of the Anne & Gene Worrell Foundation Board. “They were also innovative, a quality we believe this project embodies. Our gift is a natural way for the board of directors to honor and continue Anne and Gene’s legacy.”

Located in the heart of Southwest Virginia, the 87,000-square-foot facility is expected to be open and fully operational in August 2024. It will house an early childhood development center that can serve 300 children, GO TEC STEM labs for teacher training, and a shared services alliance that will strengthen existing early childhood care and education providers through back-office support and group purchasing power.

“The creation of this regional workforce and early childhood development center provides critical programs and services in the areas of education, health, and alleviation of poverty, three of the five areas of interest to our Foundation,” shared Holly M. Hatcher, President & CEO of the Anne and Gene Worrell Foundation. “We are pleased to partner with the United Way of Southwest Virginia, and the many funders who have supported this important project that will transform our region.”

One of the key elements of the 87,000-square-foot facility will be a permanent, year-round workforce exploration center that connects students from across Southwest Virginia with hands-on career simulation and career exploration. Career Commons will feature 20, semi-customizable replicas of local businesses with hands-on, job-related activities. For example, a local manufacturer might have several job-related activities within its branded business replica, including robotics, virtual reality welding, and computer programming.

In addition to job simulation activities, the space could highlight company culture and include a visual presentation about how someone moves from an entry-level role to a more senior role with increased earning potential.

“This facility will house multiple initiatives that, when braided together, create true cradle-to-career impact,” explained Travis Staton, CEO and President of United Way of Southwest Virginia. “Imagine meeting someone 20 years from now who received care in the childcare development center, which prepared them for kindergarten. From there, they became successful at math and reading, learned about career options through job simulations, interviewed and secured an internship while on a high school trip to Career Commons, and ultimately got a full-time, high-paying job at the same manufacturer they interned at. This is the transformational, multi-generational impact the Anne and Gene Worrell Foundation will create with this gift, and we are so thankful for their support.”

The 87,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in August 2024. Overall project costs are $25 million, and once that goal is met, United Way of Southwest Virginia will begin fundraising for an endowment as part of its sustainability plan. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySWVA.org/Hub.

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