The Rappahannock Community College Educational Foundation, Inc. (RCC EFI) is the recipient of a $2.7 million charitable gift from Dr. S. Stuart Flanagan. Dr. Flanagan has devoted his professional life to teaching and much of his philanthropic life to providing low-income students the opportunity to attend institutions of higher education.
The funds form the Flanagan Family Endowment and support RCC’s high school Navigator Program that embeds RCC success coaches or navigators in the service region’s public high schools. Navigators provide hands-on advising and support to those students who are especially at risk of not enrolling in any Institute of Higher Education, including short-term workforce credential classes, within 16 months of graduation.
Earned income from the Flanagan Family Endowment will provide navigators in high schools located in Mathews, King William, King & Queen, New Kent, Essex, and Middlesex Counties. Other funding sources provide navigators in the six additional counties served by RCC.
RCC President Dr. Shannon Kennedy emphasized the critical need for high school navigators, “The 12-county RCC service region is primarily rural, sparsely populated, limited in industry and characterized by higher poverty and lower educational attainment rates than both the state and the nation. The percentage of students in the RCC service region who enroll in any Institution of Higher Education within 16 months of graduation is also below the state and national average.”
Kennedy continued, “We also see that an estimated 60% of students enrolled at RCC are eligible for Pell Grants; however, only 36% applied to receive the grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These students can receive a greatly reduced or even free education at RCC, but need a helping hand in completing the FAFSA, which a Navigator can provide.”
In providing this gift, Flanagan commented, “I wanted to make a significant impact on the lives of our area’s lower income students. I reviewed promising data from the Navigator Program’s first year that shows increased RCC enrollment in those high schools with navigators. Those students also applied for scholarships and completed the FAFSA at a higher rate than those students at high schools without navigators. I felt my gift would be best used at this point to hire additional navigators so that all 14 high schools could be served. If the Navigator Program ever comes to an end then the funds will be earmarked for scholarships for those students in desperate financial needs.”
Flanagan served as professor of mathematics education at William & Mary for almost 30 years, and also taught high school mathematics. In 1991, he received the Outstanding College Mathematics Teacher Award from the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics. He has a special interest in testing and developed assessments to prepare students for state testing in public schools across the country. RCC is one of several educational institutions that have benefited from Dr. Flanagan’s generosity.
“If I’ve been successful, it’s because of my family,” he said. “My parents highly valued our education and had to sacrifice for it. They were very giving to our community and giving was expected of us.”
Sarah Pope, RCC Vice President of College Advancement, commented on Flanagan’s gift, “One of the Foundation’s initiatives for its $5 million 50th Anniversary Major Gifts Campaign is Student Success to help students cross the graduation finish line. Dr. Flanagan’s extraordinary gift brings our campaign goal to its finish line too. The Flanagan Family Endowment complements the Dr. Elizabeth Hinton Crowther Student Success Fund, an additional endowment established under this campaign to support student success initiatives.”
Dr. Kennedy expressed her thanks on behalf of the RCC community, “Dr. Flanagan embodies the mission of our College. Through his incredible generosity to RCC and commitment to education, he transforms lives, strengthens communities, and inspires excellence.”