Laurel Ridge receives grant from Mike Rowe Works Foundation

For Immediate Release:
December 22, 2023

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

Man using a simulator
The work ethic curriculum will be embedded into courses offered at the new Skilled Trades Center on the Fauquier Campus.

Laurel Ridge is one of three community colleges in Virginia to receive grant funding to infuse the mikeroweWORKS (MRW) Work Ethic Certification curriculum into various trades programs. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) awarded the institutions more than $250,000 as part of the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (V-TOP). 

Laurel Ridge, Blue Ridge and Patrick & Henry community colleges each received a grant of $85,500. The grants will fund two instructors at each college dedicating part of their time to teach the MRW certification curriculum. In addition to traditional students at Laurel Ridge, the program can also be offered to high school students, Adult Education students, and other non-traditional students, such as those at workforce development centers, those in jail and those at job sites.

Mike Rowe gained fame through his TV show, “Dirty Jobs,” in which he worked with people in a variety of trades professions. He later started his foundation to advocate for the trades, and came up with the S.W.E.A.T. (Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo) Pledge, focusing on 12 statements centered on the principles of hard work, determination and respect for others.

At Laurel Ridge, the work ethic curriculum will be embedded into Electrical, HVAC, Plumbing and Heavy Equipment Operator courses offered through Workforce Solutions. The hands-on learning opportunities will be offered at the newly-opened Skilled Trades Center at the Fauquier Campus starting this spring semester. It will serve those beyond the college’s service area to encompass V-TOP Region 9, which includes Albermarle, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange and Rappahannock counties, as well as Charlottesville.

The instructors who will be delivering the curriculum have received training and support through a partnership with Wichita State University Tech. Students will participate in 12 one-hour workshops related to the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge.

“We are thrilled to be offering the MRW Work Ethic Certification to our students,” said Jeanian Clark, vice president of Workforce Solutions and Continuing Education at Laurel Ridge. “We already know that the skilled trades are in high demand in this region, and having this certification will make our graduates stand out even more to employers. Our new Skilled Trades Center, with its flexible lab space and state-of-the-art commercial training equipment is a perfect space to train students for careers that are high skilled, high wage and in high demand.”

Dr. Alisha Bazemore, assistant director of innovative work-based learning initiatives at SCHEV, said skill and competency development at Virginia’s community colleges prepare students to secure paid internships and career opportunities.

“The overlay of the MRW Work Ethic curriculum provides a soft skills foundation for those students to become more marketable to potential employers,” she said.

V-TOP is administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia in partnership with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. It is funded by the General Assembly’s Commonwealth Innovative Internship Fund and Program.


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.