VA Ready program awarded grant

Published 2:20 pm Saturday, January 16, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready), a 501(c)(3) public-private partnership dedicated to retraining unemployed Virginians and helping them secure in-demand positions, announced recently that it has received a two-year grant of $50,000 from the Richmond-based Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, which provides assistance locally and beyond to community causes such as science, education, health care, the environment and the arts. 

“Helping our fellow Virginians find career success during this national crisis is a natural extension of our work at the foundation,” Richard S. Reynolds III, president of the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, said. “We are excited to be able to provide support for VA Ready’s vital initiative.” 

Richard S. Reynolds, known as the Aladdin of Aluminum, is the founder of Reynolds Metals Company, which became one of the largest aluminum companies in the world and created the household product known as Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil at the close of World War II.  

“We’re so grateful not only for the financial support of this grant, but for the message of resiliency that the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation sends to our students,” Caren Merrick, CEO of VA Ready, said. “The story behind the foundation that’s given us this grant is a good reminder to our students that even during tough times like these, we can emerge better for it.”

Founded in response to the unemployment crisis, the Virginia Ready initiative represents the partnership between leading commonwealth businesses and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), who have joined together to incentivize motivated Virginians to retrain for careers in technology, healthcare, and other skilled trades.

Most of VA Ready’s credential training programs can be completed within six to 12 weeks. Students also have the option to take one of 30 pre-approved courses at all 23 VCCS community colleges through FastForward, a short-term workforce training program for high-demand jobs across the state. 

As an added incentive, all those who complete their new credential are eligible for a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award as well as the opportunity to interview at many of Virginia’s best companies.

As of today, more than 700 Virginians are already enrolled in the program. In September, the first cohort completed their credentials and moved on to full-time employment. 

For more information about the VA Ready Initiative or to apply for the program, visit