It is the belief of the Martinsville - Henry County Chamber of Commerce that education is the cornerstone of economic development. The mission of the Education Foundation is to raise private funds to foster partnerships and leadership through education. A Board of Directors separate from the Chamber Board governs the Education Foundation.
The Chamber's Education Foundation is not intended to endow funds. Money raised is put to work immediately to further its mission. The purpose of this Foundation is to further the Chamber’s outreach in building partnerships and leadership opportunities in the community. Also, this Foundation is not restricted to a particular school system. All public and private schools offering programs in preschool through grade 12, along with post education institutions, in Martinsville – Henry County are eligible for funds.
The following programs are being / have been implemented:
- Partnership-In Excellence (PIE) Grants, awarding teachers up to $500 for engaging business and creativity in the classroom. Since the launch of this program in 2008, over $40,500 in grants have been awarded.
- Youth Leadership Development, a community-wide program for high school
- seniors designed to empower our youth and develop positive leadership qualities. This program is in its ninth year and has graduated over 300 participants. Competitive scholarships are awarded to participants who complete the development program. In the course of this program, over $38,000 in scholarships have been awarded.
- Summer Youth Employment Program, the Education Foundation along with the M–HC Chamber of Commerce was the lead agency to provide services to Martinsville and Henry County youth (ages 14 to 18) under the 2009 SYEP of the Workforce Investment Act / American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Thirty-six area businesses and non-profits and approximately 100 youth participated in this program, driving over $176,000 into our local economy.
- Onsite GED, this program brings instruction to the workplace so that it is more convenient and less stressful for individuals to prepare for the GED test. To date there have been over 300 working individuals to receive their GED credential.
- New Faculty Event, a meet and greet to welcome new faculty to the area and show our appreciation of their chosen field
The Education Foundation offers yearly donations and support to organizations with similar missions. Including, but not limited to:
- CHILL Positive Choices Youth Rally
- West Piedmont Regional Adult Education
- YMCA Preschool Program
- Going Big Skate Park Campaign
- Henry-Martinsville Social Services – Foster/Adoption Program
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge
- Grace Network
The Education Foundation relies on donations and fundraising to advance its mission. Currently, the Education Foundation hosts two fundraisers per year, the Tour de Scholar Charity Bike Ride and the Chamber Championship Charity Golf Tournament. Donations are received from the M-HC Chamber of Commerce, Martinsville Area Community Foundation, and private individual donations.