Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 62.34
Liaison Christie-Joy Hartman
Submission Date Jan. 27, 2022

STARS v2.2

James Madison University
IN-47: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Amanda Bodle
Sustainability Specialist
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Valley Scholars

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

The Valley Scholars (VS) program provides outreach activities to first generation middle and high school students, engaging them in educational enrichment activities designed to increase awareness and access to institutions of higher education with the goal of providing scholarship support for students admitted to and attending James Madison University.

The Valley Scholars program serves first-generation, financially eligible students, who are motivated and show academic promise in middle school and throughout high school. Current partner school districts include Augusta County, Harrisonburg City, Page County, Rockingham County, Shenandoah County, Staunton City, and Waynesboro City Schools. After completing the application and interview process, students are selected in the spring of the 7th grade year, with program participation beginning in the 8th grade. The program accepted its first applicants in 2014, and 26 students from the first cohort enrolled at JMU in 2019. In the fall of 2021 64 students attend JMU. While other programs for first generation college students or economically disadvantaged students exist, Valley Scholars is unique in identifying geographically disadvantaged students from rural areas surrounding JMU who are less likely to consider going to college as an option. Students who complete the program and apply and are accepted to JMU receive full scholarships.

The program offers educational and cultural enrichment opportunities with twelve program days occurring throughout the academic year. Students also attend a week-long summer camp for the summers between 9th and 11th grades. The central focus of the program is to foster and encourage a desire to learn, while also building skills that will help students achieve the academic success necessary for college attendance. In addition, VS is partnering with Merck to establish a mentoring program for VS seniors interested in career opportunities in STEM/manufacturing.

Examples of the week-long summer enrichment programs include:

2020: The Furious Flower Poetry Center, the nation's first academic center for Black poetry, led workshops in refining writing skills and reflecting on the challenges of 2020.

2021: The Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy, which focuses on research, education, and outreach, engaged students in a hands-on activity to build solar suitcases and send them to a school for refugees in Kenya.

2021: Partnering with Shenandoah National Park studying the stewardship of public lands, students camped in the park, hiked the Appalachian Trail and explored geological features.

As of 2021-2022, 212 students were participating in the Valley Scholars Program.

The Valley Scholars program is also included in PA-8, Affordability and Access, but goes beyond the criteria for that credit. In addition to scholarships, students in the program receive academic coaching, college application support, and SAT preparation, attend college campus tours, participate in community service, such as cleanup events, and build community with a cohort of students in the program.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

Publication available online: https://www.jmu.edu/valleyscholars/news.shtml

Data was reviewed by Shaun Mooney, Director, Valley Scholars Program on October 7, 2021 and entered by Amanda Bodle, ISNW.

Publication available online: https://www.jmu.edu/valleyscholars/news.shtml

Data was reviewed by Shaun Mooney, Director, Valley Scholars Program on October 7, 2021 and entered by Amanda Bodle, ISNW.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.