Laurel Ridge receives grant to bring more women into computing

For Immediate Release:
May 6, 2019

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


Laurel Ridge will receive up to $10,000 in grant funding to launch outreach initiatives focused on encouraging more women to study computing. The college is among five institutions to receive the 2019 NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund.

The fund is powered by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) with support from Microsoft Research.

As the grant’s principal investigator, Laurel Ridge Computer Science Professor Melissa Stange will work to attract more females to computing along multiple pathways.

Activities planned for the 2019-2020 academic year include expanding high school outreach, evaluating and modifying marketing materials to avoid unintentional bias, modifying first semester course content to ensure greater student success, and two summer camps. Adjunct Professor Dong Truong – who is also a math teacher at Sherando High School – and Dr. Stange will host a week-long college freshman camp and a three-day camp for rising high school freshmen to ensure they have the computational skills and programming foundation needed before the start of the upcoming school year. Both camps are for females, led by female faculty and female tutors. 

The registration link for the rising ninth graders is The registration link for the incoming freshmen is

“Laurel Ridge is honored to be selected to receive this award in support of Laurel Ridge’s efforts to develop inviting and inclusive programs for female students with computing aspirations,” Professor Stange says. “Laurel Ridge looks forward to welcoming more women to the computer science program.”

There are about 90 students in Laurel Ridge’s computer science program, which can lead to either an associate of science degree or a career studies certificate. Laurel Ridge’s May 11 commencement will include the third cohort of computer science graduates, many of whom have successfully transferred into bachelor’s degree programs or gone straight into the workforce.

“Laurel Ridge’s administration supports Dr. Stange’s vision and passion for improving Laurel Ridge’s computer science program to ensure student success,” says Dean of Academic, Student Affairs and Outreach Brenda Byard.

In 2016, women earned 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the U.S., but only 19 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences. Introducing engaging tech-related activities and opportunities can help to reverse this trend and reduce entry barriers by appealing to a variety of students and building on their existing interests and competence.

“These Seed Fund programs leverage effective recruitment strategies to attract women to computing,” says NCWIT CEO and co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Ultimately, increasing women’s participation will lead to a more innovative and competitive technology workforce.”

The NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund awards NCWIT Academic Alliance members at non-profit, U.S. institutions (excluding U.S. territories) with start-up funds (up to $10,000 per project) to grow their technology-related outreach program. To date, 59 member institutions have received a total of $665,450 to kick start initiatives including professional development, mentoring and networking opportunities, hands-on training, workshops, and more. Find out more at

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit community of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. NCWIT equips change leaders with resources for taking action in recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. Find out more at



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.