FoundationThe Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation Board of Directors recognized all of those who founded and brought forth scholarship opportunities recently. The dinner was held at Factory Street Brewing Company.

“For those living in our rural area of Southern Virginia, these opportunities for expanding one’s education after high school was made only possible through the generosity of our donors,” said SVHEF Board Chair Monica Pounds-Edmonds.

In the fall of 2003, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation awarded their first scholarships. At that time there were only three scholarships available for post-secondary education offered through the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. As the Foundation grew more support from local business and industries, today there are fourteen varying scholarships.

Some scholarships are earmarked to support students who are seeking careers in business, education, health care, information technology, workforce training and arts education at The Prizery. Plus, there are scholarships supporting all fields of study.

Since 2003, the SVHEF has awarded over $340,000 in scholarships. These monies assisted over 450 students brighten their future and the community.

SVHEF Board Member Ted Bennett shared thoughts of how the Foundation succeed all expectations of the community. Motioning to Chris Lumsden and J. R. Griffin who he noted were part of the team spearheading the massive project for region.

“When the notion of bringing post-secondary education and the millions of dollars needed to fund the facilities, we were told no chance in hell,” said Bennett gaining applause from the attendees.

Bennett offered his gratitude to state Sen. Frank Ruff, who was seated at the dinner, for fighting a few battles at the state level for funding assistance. Bennett stressed the SVHEF Board has a strong fiduciary obligation to donors “to see your money, your company’s money, goes where you want it to go.”

“Your donations go 100% to the students,” said Bennett.

Addressing the broad scope of scholarship opportunities available for adults to live in their community, continue their education, and help keep our region viable and strong, Bennett shared his joy in seeing this foundation and center come full circle.

“This has been an extraordinary panorama to see what has been accomplished in this small town,” said Bennett.

Touching on the The Prizery, Bennett shared the community arts center is an asset to the community and would not be here today without the foundation’s support. The foundation’s purchase of the facility was made possible due to revenue generated from a lease agreement with the commonwealth of Virginia for the lease of the center.

The Scholarship Founders recognized include:

Chris Lumsden on behalf of the Hope-Tone Scholarship providing 65 scholarships since 2003 for students in the medical field.

Sterling Edmunds is not only a long-time supporter of the foundation and board member, he also represents two scholarships. The Ann Chesley Edmunds Scholarship which has provided 13 scholarships since 2015, and the Edmunds Scholarship for the Arts which was established this past November by Sterling Edmunds and his siblings Ann Tyler Allen and Paul C. Edmunds II. This scholarship supports classes offered by the Community Arts Center Foundation, The Prizery.

Debbie Ferguson on behalf of her late husband, Dr. William Joseph Ferguson. In addition to Dr. Ferguson being a member of the Foundation Board, he was also a tutor volunteering countless of hours working with students at the Higher Education Center. The Dr. W. Joseph Memorial Scholarship has Awarded 55 scholarships since the Fall of 2021.

Dr. Jacqueline Fogarty on behalf of the Dr. Bill Bell Medical Scholarship that has provided five scholarships since fall of 2022.

Kelly Lanier-Arnold on behalf of the Microsoft Scholarship that has awarded 23 scholarships since 2019.

Barbara Penick Jimenez, behalf of her mother, Virginia Penick. Penick was a beloved teacher here in Halifax County. The Virginia Penick Estate Scholarship has provided 24 scholarships since 2007.

Kirby Jordan on behalf of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative providing 74 scholarships since 2013.

The Leggett Scholarship in honor of Tommy Leggett’s service to the Foundation which has provided 25 scholarships since 2013.

Logan Young on behalf of the Wilson Memorial Scholarship that has supported scholarships since 2017.

Workforce Training Scholarships: J. R. Griffin of Comfort Systems USA MidAtlantic who have supported scholarships annually since 2013. Mr. Griffin just announced last week, his team would like to continue supporting students in the HVAC and Welding fields of study with the Mark T. Trickey Memorial Scholarship by Comfort Systems USA MidAtlantic.

Brian Burton on behalf of the J. E. Burton Construction Scholarship that has awarded 15 scholarships since 2022. Burton is also a SVHEF Board Secretary.

Thomas Elliott and Chris Elliott on behalf of the Elliott Electric Inc Scholarship that was just announced early this year. This scholarship will begin awarding students this Fall.

Petrina Carter on behalf of the Tri-County Community Action Agency that provided five scholarships from 2003-2005.

Steve Mize on behalf of Team Nurse providing three scholarships in 2009.Scholarship

Arthur Pape on behalf of the Business Art & Design Scholarship that provided 27 scholarships from 2011 to 2015.

The Rotary Club of South Boston which provided 20 scholarships from 2013 to 2020.

In efforts to help additional community scholarship opportunities, the Foundation assist with the Senior Exercise Group Scholarship and the Brad Ballou Memorial Scholarship. Brad Ballou was a mentor to decades of youth in Halifax County. The Brad Ballou Memorial Scholarship is represented by his dear friends, Matthew McCargo, Joel Medley, and Larry Lacks.

The SVHEF is a nonprofit organization. All contributions are tax deductible. The SVHEF does not charge an administrative fee for managing scholarship funds.

For more information about the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation, establishing a scholarship, or to make a donation, go to For additional scholarship information contact Liza Fulton, SVHEF Associate Director of Philanthropy, 434 572-5442 or email

The Foundation Board of Directors include Chair Monica Edmonds, Vice Chair Patricia Walker, Treasurer Jeff Davis, Secretary Brian Burton, Ted Bennett, John Cannon, Ben Davenport, Sterling Edmunds, Jayne Elliott, Linda Owen, Mayor Ed Owens, Darden Smith, and Dennis Witt. Foundation Staff: Director of Operations Angela Yancey and Associate Director of Philanthropy Liza Fulton.

From The Gazette Virginian