Great Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc.
4551 Cox Road, Suite 115
Glen Allen VA 23060
Mission Statement
GRASP will help students and their families, regardless of their financial resources and at no charge to them, develop an educational plan by:
  • assisting them with the financial aid process;
  • awarding and administering scholarships;
  • inspiring them to believe that secondary and post-secondary education are attainable goals; and
  • supporting them in the attainment of their post-secondary education goals.
Web and Social Media
Video


GRASP Advisors and Students Celebrate Success
Multi-Media Comments Please visit www.grasp4va.org for pictures of GRASP's work. You can also follow GRASP on Facebook at GRASP4Virginia , Twitter @GRASPFlash, or on Instagram @GRASPFlash.
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Kenneth D Barker PE
Board Chair Dr. Robert D. Holsworth
Board Chair Company Affiliation DecideSmart
Contact Information
Address 4551 Cox Road, Suite 115
Glen Allen, VA 23060
Telephone 804 527-7726
Fax 804 527-7750
E-mail info@grasp4va.org
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1983
Former Names
NameYear
Greater Richmond Area Scholarship Program2009
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
 
 
Projected Revenue $1,928,460.00
Projected Expenses $1,822,180.00
Additional Documents
Donor Brochure2018View
GRASP Results 2016-20172017View
Name Change Document2009View
GRASP has reports, graphs, tables and pictures readily available. Please let us know if you would like to see any additional information about our organization. 
Statements
Mission
GRASP will help students and their families, regardless of their financial resources and at no charge to them, develop an educational plan by:
  • assisting them with the financial aid process;
  • awarding and administering scholarships;
  • inspiring them to believe that secondary and post-secondary education are attainable goals; and
  • supporting them in the attainment of their post-secondary education goals.
Impact
2016-17 Accomplishments:
  1. Provided free, in-school financial aid advising to over 7,000 students at 76 schools/venues in Virginia. 449 of these students were from active military or veteran families, and 506 were students with disabilities. The estimated average student financial aid package awarded to GRASP students was $13,000.
  2. Awarded $338,250 in post-secondary scholarships.
  3. Had 90 college students actively participate in the College Success Program, which seeks to increase college retention rates. 87% of these students were from low-income households.
  4. Provided advising in 29 high schools through SOAR Virginia®, an Early Commitment Program funded by VA529. Advisors worked with up to 45 students (10th-12th grades) in each school on college readiness.  873 students participated in 2016-17 and received $533,000 in scholarships from VA529.  98% of participants graduate from high school.
  5. Awarded over $400,000 in scholarships to 97 students to attend private K-12 schools through the EISP program, with preference given to scholarships for students with disabilities attending private schools with specialized disability services.
 Goals:
  1. Sustain services at our present schools and increase the number of students served at each location.  Our annual cost is about $10,000 per school which can be a burden to school systems.  The majority of this cost is alleviated by private / corporate donations and funding from foundations.
  2. Increase the number and amount of scholarships we award and make our scholarships renewable.
  3. Increase the number of students and families served at Saturday at the Library programs, at which advisors assist families in completing the FAFSA.
  4. Expand services to Hispanic and Latino students by providing bilingual support and assistance in finding education funding options.
  5. Expand the College Success program to more fully support students in attaining their degrees and prepare GRASP students going to college for the first time.
Needs
  1. $10,000/school; funding for each GRASP school (total of 76 in 2016-2017).
  2. Last Dollar Scholarship Funding. The annual need is $200,000. 
  3. $113,000 for expanded services of our College Success program, including an expanded role of the College Success advisor, renewable scholarships for our College Success students, up-to-date laptops for college students (primarily low income) and a summer college-readiness boot camp for rising freshmen in the College Success program.
  4. Develop GRASP's fundraising capabilities from individual donors not dependent on tax credits.
Background
The Great Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc. (GRASP) was founded in 1983 by Dr. Ray Gargiulo, a career educator, and Senator Walter Stosch, a long-time advocate for children, who saw the need for assisting and advising students in the development of an educational plan for after high school.
 
Since its beginning, the program core has been in-school advisors coaching students and parents, presenting financial aid education in school classroom settings, and delivering financial aid seminars in libraries and other public forums.
     
GRASP's financial aid advisors access institutional, federal, state and community resources to help their students.  Funds are available to many students, but benefiting from these funds requires completing complicated forms and documents by specific deadlines. GRASP Financial Aid Advisors help make the complex process clearer for students and their families.
 
GRASP began complementing the in-school advisor program with “last dollar” scholarships in the 2008-09 school year. Although GRASP advisors are often able to assemble a sizable financial aid package for students, frequently an additional $500 to $2,000 of expenses for books, technology needs and other costs are not covered by the financial aid package. As a result, some students are unable to attend the institution to which they have been accepted for admission.  The need for small, targeted "last dollar" scholarships is apparent, and through the generosity of foundations, businesses, and individual donors, these scholarships are possible.
CEO Statement

The College Board, in its publication The College Keys Compact, Expanding Options for Low-Income Students, reports that low-income students are at greater risk of missing admission and financial aid deadlines because of lack of informed support, complex aid applications and the fact that the aid offer notification process can be overwhelming to low-income students.

Additionally, insufficient hands-on assistance to students and families who are completing aid forms continues to provide a challenge in the financial aid application process, and, finally, parents and students tend to maintain inaccurate perceptions of college costs.  
 
Further, this document reports that "The FAFSA, which takes an average of 10 hours to complete, is four times longer than the simplest tax return (i.e., IRS Form 1040EZ) and longer than IRS Form 1040.  This complexity disproportionately burdens those with the lowest incomes, who can benefit the most from federal aid programs but lack the know-how to complete the FAFSA."
 
GRASP advisors are trained to address and help students overcome these barriers.  The difficulties described are exactly the niche filled by the GRASP program. GRASP advisors are experienced college financial aid professionals.  They bring to their advising work a breadth of experience, representing a diverse range of careers, educational backgrounds, and volunteer activities.  The individuals who serve as GRASP advisors bring both experience and a commitment to college access.  This professionalism enriches the advising services provided by GRASP.  There is not an area agency that provides similar services at no cost to students and families, especially directly in the high schools.
 
Each dollar donated to GRASP in the fiscal year ending June 2017, yielded an estimated $114 in college financial aid. 
 
GRASP participates in Virginia's Neighborhood Assistance Program; consequently, qualified donors may be able to benefit from a 65% state tax credit. 
 
We invite you to join us in encouraging students (particularly those who are low-income or struggling with disabilities) to maximize their potential by continuing to post-secondary education and assisting students and their families in gathering the resources needed to access this education. 
Board Chair Statement
The cost of post-secondary education rises each year, and frequently young people do not have the finances or social circumstances to pursue such an education.  GRASP ensures that all students will be given the opportunity to continue their educations if they so desire.  GRASP assists these students, no matter what their background, by helping them to develop an educational plan for after high school.  Part of this plan includes education financing, and the GRASP advisors are trained to help students and their families navigate the maze of the financial aid process.  At least half of the students with whom GRASP works come from families that are impoverished.
 
GRASP's program has proven successful in helping young people continue their educations after high school, and I have chosen to work with this organization because I believe its work provides students from all backgrounds the opportunities they deserve.
Areas of Service
Areas Served
Area
Metro Richmond
Tri-cities Region
Richmond, City
Chester
Chesterfield County
Goochland County
Hanover County
Henrico County
Hopewell, City
Petersburg, City
Powhatan County
Prince George County
Charles City County
New Kent County
Shenandoah Valley
Matoaka
Southside Virginia
Statewide
Colonial Heights, City
Sussex County
King and Queen County
Southside Virginia
Other
Westmoreland County
Essex County
Richmond County
Lancaster County
Northumberland County
Northern Neck
Counties of Augusta, Bath, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charles City, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Essex, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Highland, King and Queen, King William, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Nelson, New Kent, Northumberland, Powhatan, Prince George, Richmond, Sussex, and Westmoreland
Cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond, Staunton, and Waynesboro, and the Town of Colonial Beach
 
Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, Northstar Academy, and Virginia Home for Boys and Girls 
Board Chair
Board Chair Dr. Robert D. Holsworth
Company Affiliation DecideSmart
Term July 2017 to June 2020
Email bobholsworth@aol.com
Board of Directors
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Jane M. Alford M.Ed., CRCSelf-Employed Rehabilitation Counselor
Dr. David Bailey Jr.David Bailey Associates
The Honorable Randolph Beales Court of Appeals of Virginia
James W. Beamer Legislative Outreach, Dominion Resources
Matthew P. Bosher Esq.Partner, Hunton & Williams, LLP
Congressman David A Brat 7th District of Virginia
The Honorable Jean Cunningham Esq.The McCammon Group
Thomas M. Denson III, CPAKeiter
David W. Didawick CPADidawick & Company, P.C.
Kenneth M. Dye Comcast Metro Richmond (retired)
Dr. Raymond Gargiulo Richmond Public Schools (retired)
Julian S. Hillery III, CFADavenport & Company
Dr. Robert D. Holsworth DecideSmart
Robert B. Maxwell IIIMinuteman Press
Andrea McDaniel NBC Channel 12
Dr. Robyn Diehl McDougle Virginia Commonwealth University
Paula F. Robinson State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
Elsie Rose CPA,CGMAAgincourt Capital Management
Dr. Sarah Huggins Scarbrough REAL Life
The Honorable Levar Stoney Mayor of Richmond
Senator Walter A. Stosch Senate of Virginia (retired)
Stacey Strawn M.A. Ed.H.D.President, Silver Gallery
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 16
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 14
Female 8
Governance
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 64
Written Board Selection Criteria? No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 0
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Executive
Audit
Investment
Legislative
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Comments

GRASP has taken care to not only structure the organization for our students but also for our donors. We can offer qualified donors a 65% state tax credit with a five-year carry-over, for the amount of tax credits we are authorized by the Virginia Department of Education each fiscal year.  The maximum donation for tax credit qualification is $125,000.

Executive Director
Executive Director Kenneth D Barker PE
Experience

Ken Barker is a retired executive of Dominion Energy with an extensive background of leading organizations in the power industry.  He serves as the Chair of the Board of the Dominion Energy Credit Union and has served previously on the Board of GRASP and other local non-profit boards in the Richmond area.  

 Ken is married to Debbie, and they have two daughters, Jennifer and Rebekah.  His personal interests include serving at Gayton Baptist Church and enjoying the beautiful mountains in Virginia.
Former CEOs
NameTerm
Bettsy Heggie Jan 2010 - Nov 2017
Dr. Sarah Scarbrough Jan 2008 - Jan 2010
Senior Staff
NameTitle
Mrs. Paula Buckley Director of Outreach and Public Affairs
Mrs. Patricia Young Gordon MBAChief Financial Officer
Mrs. Bettsy Edgar Heggie MBAChief Operating Officer
Mrs. Anne Parker Michie Esq.Chief Compliance and Program Officer
Staff
Full Time Staff 4
Part Time Staff 51
Volunteers 1
Contractors 0
Retention Rate 67
Plans
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Date Strategic Plan Adopted Apr 2017
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Collaborations
State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV);
Virginia College Savings Plan;
Chesterfield County Public Library System;
Henrico County Public Library System; 
United Methodist Family Services;
Virginia Community College System;
The Community Foundation of Central Virginia; 
The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge;
Project Discovery;
Richmond Public Library System;
Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce;
Virginia College Access Network (VCAN)
Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (VASFAA) 
Northstar Academy;
Virginia Department of Education;
All School Systems in which GRASP serves; 
River Counties Community Foundation;
Bridging Richmond;
Richmond Education Foundation (RVA Future Centers);
Richmond AmeriCorps Action for Community Enhancement Services (ACES)
Awards
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Standards Basics recognitionStandards for Excellence Institute2017
Four-Star RatingCharity Navigator2017
Programs
Description

   GRASP's goal is to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity for continuing education after high school, regardless of financial or social circumstances. We emphasize assisting students from low-income families, many of whom do not believe they will be able to attend a post-secondary institution, primarily for financial reasons.

   GRASP advisors complement school counseling services by helping students navigate the post-secondary financial aid process for four year-colleges, community colleges, or technical schools. Advisors help with FAFSA completion, scholarship applications, and explaining financial aid award letters, enabling students to make choices that minimize debt. In the 2016-17 school year, GRASP advisors provided 1-on-1 financial aid advising to over 7,000 high school students in 76 schools and venues in Virginia.

   GRASP also works in collaboration with area libraries to bring the expertise of our advisors to those people who cannot meet with them in the schools.

Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Budget $843,380.00
Short Term Success
   GRASP seeks to increase the number of students who access post-secondary financial aid, thus allowing them to remove a significant barrier to accessing post-secondary education. In most years, over 90% of the students with whom GRASP financial aid advisors met completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and were planning to continue their educations. 
 
   Through its financial aid advising services, GRASP seeks to  improve the college attendance rate of students with whom GRASP advisors work. 
 
Long Term Success

   As a result of this program, every student will have an equal opportunity for continuing education after high school, regardless of financial or social circumstances.  By developing educational plans for post-secondary education and giving hope to students and families who may not believe college or vocational training is available to them, we envision reducing high school dropout rates and moving young people towards productive and successful lives and careers.  

Description
   The GRASP in-school advisors are typically able to assemble a sizable financial aid package for students. However, expenses for books, technology needs, and other costs are frequently not covered by the financial aid package, and as a result, some students are unable to attend the institution of their choice. GRASP began the Last Dollar Scholarship program to address this need.

   Annually, GRASP awards at least one Last Dollar Scholarship to a graduating senior at each GRASP-served school. Scholarships range from $500 to $4,500.  GRASP also offers a 2+2 Renewable Scholarship to encourage students to attain a degree with minimal debt by pursuing a community college to university pathway.

   Additionally, GRASP helps administer scholarships for other organizations that need assistance in publicizing, organizing, and selecting scholarship winners.
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Budget $374,870.00
Short Term Success

   For the ninth consecutive year, GRASP awarded Last Dollar Scholarships to students in the high schools where GRASP advisors work.  The 2016-2017 GRASP scholarship committee considered applications from high school seniors for the Last Dollar Scholarship and 2+2 Renewable Scholarship. Of our scholarship recipients who reported financial information to us, more than half are from families dealing with significant financial hardships.

In the past nine years, GRASP has awarded over $1.9 million in post-secondary scholarships.

Long Term Success    Ideally, every GRASP student who needed money to be able to attend college would receive enough of a scholarship to make up the gap between the money the college awards them and the amount of money they need to attend that college, until the completion of his or her degree. To assist in this process, GRASP would ultimately like to make our scholarships renewable. 
Description

   Statistics from the Chronicle of Higher Education show that only 49% of Virginia students who enroll in a public college or university graduate on time, and less than 68% actually receive a degree within 6 years. The College Success Program assists students by providing support as they transition from high school to college and continuing through their college years.

  • The objective is for 80% of students to take at least 6 credit hours each semester until graduation, while maintaining a minimum 2.0 GPA.
  • Strategies include: monthly email, networking events, financial aid assistance, and on-line community support.
  • There are over 700 students enrolled, with 90 students actively participating in programs during the 2016-17 school year.
  • Students who participate actively are eligible to apply for College Success scholarships throughout their undergraduate education. 
  •  Approximately 75% of College Success students are under significant financial stress.
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Budget $100,000.00
Short Term Success    GRASP currently has approximately 90 actively participating students in the College Success Program, and we awarded $118,250 in scholarships to returning college students in the 2016-17 school year.  Each year the number of College Success students reaching out to the College Success advisor for advice/assistance with college-related issues increases.  Additionally, many of the student speakers at our annual Reach for the Stars Gala are College Success students who have experienced, over several years at college, the impact that GRASP assistance provides.
Long Term Success

   80% of College Success Students will graduate from college. Strategies that will help with this goal are:

  1. 80% of College Success students will take at least six credit hours each semester, until successful completion of their degree.
  2. 80% of College Success students will maintain a minimum of 2.0 GPA.
  3. 100% of College Success students will fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year, helping them receive as much financial aid as possible. 
Description

   GRASP implements SOAR Virginia®, an Early Commitment Program funded by Virginia529 College Savings Plan℠, in 29 GRASP schools.  In this program, advisors begin to work with students, who meet the eligibility criteria, in the 10th grade.  Up to 45 students in each school have the opportunity to participate in this college readiness program through which each student can earn up to $2,000 for college.  GRASP advisors work with students on financial literacy, attendance, grades, community service, post-secondary school options and post-secondary financial aid. In the 2016-17 school year, students earned $533,000 in scholarships funded by Virginia529.

Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Budget $63,000.00
Short Term Success    Short term success is measured by each student meeting with a GRASP advisor at least three times each school year, participating in community service, maintaining a 2.5 GPA, not having unexcused absences, participating in financial literacy education, and not having conduct violations. FAFSA completion is required for seniors, and high school graduation rates are also tracked.
Long Term Success    GRASP advisors work with students on financial literacy, attendance, grades, community service, post-secondary options and post-secondary financial aid.

   The program's success is measured by students meeting the program requirements, set by Virginia529 College Savings Plan℠, all three years (10th-12th grades) of high school and then continuing their post-secondary education at technical school, community college or a four year college.
Description

   GRASP participates in Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program (EISTCP), a scholarship program for students in K-12 who wish to attend a private school, which requires that at least 90% of tax credit generated revenues under this program be paid out in scholarships for students from families of low to moderate income. The GRASP Board has directed that preference be given to scholarships for students with disabilities attending private schools with specialized disability services.

Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Budget $440,930.00
Short Term Success

   In the 2016-17 school year, 97 students, whose parents believe they are best served in a smaller private school setting, received a total of $401,825 in scholarships to attend private schools through the GRASP EISP program. Many of these students have learning disabilities or other special circumstances, and GRASP’s goal is to increase the number of scholarships awarded to students with disabilities each year.

Long Term Success

   GRASP’s objective through the K-12 Education Improvement Scholarship Program is to promote successful outcomes for students with learning challenges. Some parents of students with disabilities may find that their students perform better in private schools with specialized disability services. GRASP’s long-term goal is for our EISP program to serve exclusively students with disabilities in need of such specialized education, and for these students to successfully complete their K-12 education.

Description

   GRASP participates in Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program (EISTCP), a scholarship program for students in K-12 who wish to attend a private school, which requires that at least 90% of tax credit generated revenues under this program be paid out in scholarships for students from families of low to moderate income. The GRASP Board has directed that preference be given to scholarships for students with disabilities attending private schools with specialized disability services.

Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Budget $440,930.00
Short Term Success

   In the 2016-17 school year, 97 students, whose parents believe they are best served in a smaller private school setting, received a total of $401,825 in scholarships to attend private schools through the GRASP EISP program. Many of these students have learning disabilities or other special circumstances, and GRASP’s goal is to increase the number of scholarships awarded to students with disabilities each year.

Long Term Success

   GRASP’s objective through the K-12 Education Improvement Scholarship Program is to promote successful outcomes for students with learning challenges. Some parents of students with disabilities may find that their students perform better in private schools with specialized disability services. GRASP’s long-term goal is for our EISP program to serve exclusively students with disabilities in need of such specialized education, and for these students to successfully complete their K-12 education.

CEO/ED/Board Comments GRASP has expanded its efforts to get information to the public about the GRASP mission in the past several years.  We would like to reach and assist even more students.  Additionally, we continue to revise and update our website so it is helpful and user-friendly, and we are increasing our presence on social media platforms.  These communication tools are full of information about financial aid opportunities and scholarships, our organization, and donation opportunities.  Please visit us at www.grasp4va.org.  We are also increasing our social media presence to especially appeal to students.  You can follow us on Facebook at GRASP4Virginia, Twitter @GRASPFlash, and on Instagram.
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $1,928,460.00
Projected Expenses $1,822,180.00
Spending Policy N/A
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201720162015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$167,250$226,250$205,250
Government Contributions$458,750$441,000$287,250
Federal------
State$458,750$441,000$287,250
Local------
Unspecified------
Individual Contributions$1,116,027$1,191,123$882,660
------
$63,632$56,672$91,299
Investment Income, Net of Losses$100,186$41,155$27,980
Membership Dues------
Special Events$15,141$16,988$7,573
Revenue In-Kind$26,565$29,692$22,650
Other$52$155$46
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$1,494,132$1,023,241$903,572
Administration Expense$166,662$160,374$142,283
Fundraising Expense$12,552$14,136$10,333
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.161.671.44
Program Expense/Total Expenses89%85%86%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue1%1%1%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$3,816,873$3,546,518$2,760,503
Current Assets$758,027$803,086$2,484,487
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$345$4,247$23,516
Total Net Assets$3,816,528$3,542,271$2,736,987
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities2197.18189.09105.65
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
VDACS Registration 2017View
Comments
Organization Comments GRASP is structured to meet the criteria of the Virginia Neighborhood Assistance Act and, as such, can offer 65% Virginia state income tax credits for qualified donations.  These income tax credits are available to both individuals and businesses.   Individuals must contribute a minimum of $500 in order to receive a tax credit; contributions can be cash or marketable securities.  The minimum VA state tax credit given to individuals is $325 and the maximum is $81,250.  Businesses must give a minimum of $615 in either cash, securities, or, in some instances, services, in order to qualify for the tax credit.  For more information, please go to our website at www.grasp4va.org/donatenow. 
Foundation Comments
  • Financial information provided from accountant's compilation reports.
  • Compilations and IRS 990s prepared by Owen & Company, PLC.
  • Revenue from "Foundations and Corporations" also includes support from individuals.