Laurel Ridge Receives Grant to Launch Innovative “Trades Academy”

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 2015

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134


Laurel Ridge Community College’s Trades Academy is the recipient of $27,740 from the 2016 Chancellor’s Innovation Fund (CIF). This was the largest single dollar amount awarded to a Virginia community college.


The CIF is a competitive grant program open to faculty and staff of all 23 Virginia Community Colleges to fund innovative, targeted projects that closely align with the new Virginia Community College Systems (VCCS) Strategic Plan, Complete 2021.


The single goal of the VCCS strategic plan is to triple the number of credentials that community college students earn by the year 2021. Credentials include not just associate’s degrees but other postsecondary certifications and licensures that require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.


Filling skilled trades jobs has been the greatest challenge facing U.S. employers for six consecutive years. The expectation is that the Trades Academy will ultimately serve as a pipeline to prepare students for high-demand trade occupations in sectors of Industrial Maintenance Trades and Advanced Manufacturing.


Selected high school seniors from four area school divisions will participate in the Trades Academy. The Academy is being conducted in partnership with the Laurel Ridge Career Pathways Consortium to provide opportunities for students to pursue an Industrial Maintenance Technology program through Laurel Ridge. Students who successfully complete the program will earn industry credentials in OSHA, American Welding Society (AWS), and CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) sponsored by the EPA. In addition to industry certifications, students will be able to graduate with two Career Studies Certificates, one in HVAC and another in Basic Electrical Technician.


Brenda Byard, Academic, Student Affairs, & Outreach Dean at Laurel Ridge noted, “It’s a huge opportunity for selected seniors to gain essential technical workforce skills. They can enter the workforce where there is huge demand and great salaries or they can move into apprentice programs to pursue further training opportunities. This is a pilot program with the hope of expansion for more students in the future.”


The Trades Academy will commence in the fall semester of 2016. Partnering with Laurel Ridge are the following school divisions: Clarke County, Warren County, Frederick County, and Winchester City. Students will travel to Middletown during the academic year and will participate in a 31credit on-campus workforce training experience at Laurel Ridge for three hours each morning, Monday through Friday.


Besides the academic instruction and labs, the program will provide students with opportunities to meet with business and industry leaders and employers from around the region. They will receive career counseling and assistance in seeking apprenticeships.



Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.