FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. - Educators, law enforcement officials, CEOs, even local politicians gathered in Frederick County Wednesday morning to kick off a new program which focuses on using existing community resources to meet the needs of students and schools.
Founded in 2010 in Joplin, Missouri; Bright Futures USA has 22 chapters throughout the country. At Frederick County's official kickoff Wednesday they celebrated being not only the first chapter in Virginia, but also the first on the east coast.
"Bright Futures is there so that all of our students can be successful, and in turn, our community can be successful," said Patrick Barker, Executive Director of the Frederick County-Winchester Economic Development Commission.
"They can become an attorney instead of the accused, law enforcement officials instead of incarcerated, a professional in healthcare verses a victim, and an entrepreneur or business owner versus unemployed," said Mark Merrill, President and CEO of Winchester Medical Center and Valley Health System.
Through the Bright Futures’ framework, Frederick County Public Schools will act as a liaison between needy students and community organizations.
"One thing about bright futures, it's not a Frederick County Public Schools thing,” said Steve Edwards, Communications Coordinator for FCPS. “It's a community thing. And if the community wasn't willing to step up and be the backbone, it wouldn't work."
"We’re not reinventing the wheel,” said Dan Martin, General Manager of the Courtyard Marriott in Winchester. “We’re just making that wheel much, much larger, so we have a vast amount of resources to meet the needs of students in Frederick County.”
These needs include anything from a new pair of shoes to an internship or reference letter.
Bright Futures USA encourages chapters to use social media to communicate with today's youth.
"We have a Facebook page!,” said Dr. David Sovine, Superintendent of FCPS. “That's a part of our rapid response, where needs can be posted. And our goal is to address those needs within 24 hours."
Kim Vann, the Executive Director of Bright Futures USA, was also in attendance at the kickoff breakfast.
"There hearts are as big as the geographic area that the county encompasses. It's very obvious. You can just see the energy and passion in the room with these community leaders,” she said of Frederick County’s new initiative for Bright Futures USA.
If you're interested in starting a chapter in your community, visit the following links for more information: