Chamber Seeks Community Help to Impact Local Students in Two Significant Ways Over Next 30 Days

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Provided by Prince William Chamber of Commerce

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“We believe that strong business and strong community go hand in hand.  Today’s school children are our future workforce, our future leaders.  It is important that we let them know this is a community that values their education and stands ready to help them reach their full potential,” says Debbie Jones, President & CEO of the Prince William Chamber, referring to the efforts of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Education & Innovation Committee, sponsored by the Prince William Education Association.

The Education and Innovation Committee is a powerhouse group of business and community leaders committed to developing an equipped and confident future workforce through partnerships with local school systems. Each year the group leads the businesses of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce through project after project with November through February being the time of year when their community impact is at its peak.

Residents of the communities of Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park are invited to participate in two of their upcoming initiatives:

Winter Warm-Up (Now through December 14, 2015)

With fall in full swing and early morning temperatures near freezing, there are many children in local schools in need of help in meeting a very basic need—staying warm so they can focus on their studies.

Michelle Rao, of Laser Quest Corporation, co-chair of the Chamber’s Education & Innovation Committee, says that while many coat drives are conducted over the holidays, often-times local children lack warm clothing underneath, showing up to school in shorts and t-shirts covered by winter coats which they are often not permitted to wear once the school day begins. To meet their need, each year the Committee organizes a Winter Warm-UP online clothing drive.  This year’s drive is now in full swing.

For only $10, donors can purchase a “kit” containing a hat, gloves, sweatpants and sweatshirt. The Committee, with the help of student volunteers from Manassas Christian School, then distributes these warm clothing “kits” to Title I schools* in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.  The goal is to keep kids focused on learning by meeting one of their most basic needs; the need for warm clothing during cold weather months. Kits will distributed to schools in mid-December 2015 and again in early February, 2016.

All residents, community groups and businesses are invited to participate and help beat last year’s number of distributed Winter Warm-UP kits (just over 600) and make a difference in the lives of local students. To donate online, visit and look for the Winter Warm-UP graphic in the homepage slider.  Checks can also be mailed to the Chamber Headquarters at 9720 Capital Court, Suite 203, Manassas, VA, 20110, c/o Winter Warm-UP.

National Young Reader’s Day (November 10, 2015)

Retirees, parents and business leaders from across the community are also invited to assist the Chamber’s Education & Innovation Committee on National Young Reader’s Day when they will spearhead efforts to put readers in every single elementary school classroom in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

This year National Young Reader’s Day is on Tuesday, November 10. One-hour timeslots are available for volunteer readers in schools across the community. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Michelle Rao at Please give your name, contact info, and the area where you are interested in reading (e.g., Haymarket, Dale City, Manassas Park).

In addition to the initiatives listed here, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce also offers a scholarship program for graduating high school seniors and, new for 2016, a STEM Career Day. For questions about any of the community outreach activities of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, visit and click on the tab labeled “The Chamber” or call 703-368-6600 and speak with Suzanne Lewis, Director of Community Outreach.  Comcast is the Prince William Chamber’s Education Vision Partner.

*(According to the Virginia Department of Education, Title I, Part A provides financial assistance through state educational agencies to school divisions and public schools with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and achievement standards.

School divisions target the Title I funds they receive to public schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families. Unless a participating school is operating a schoolwide program, the school must focus Title I services on children who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet state academic standards. Schools enrolling at least 40 percent of students from low-income families are eligible to use Title I funds for schoolwide programs that are designed to upgrade their entire educational programs for all students, particularly the lowest-achieving students.

In June 2012, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) granted Virginia waivers from certain requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). For more information, see ESEA Flexibility.)



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