ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Back to school season is here and Roanoke College is making sure that students who are aspiring to become educators have guidance.

The college announced that it was awarded a $35,000 grant from the Truist Foundation for its Bridges Program. The program was launched in 2023 with the mission of inspiring more students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to pursue teaching as a career.

Bridges’ was created in partnership with local school divisions and extends mentoring, outreach, and scholarship opportunities to Roanoke Valley students. The goal of helping them tap into a passion for education that will bring them back to their hometown school system as teachers.

“Their generosity allows us to reach more students and make faster progress toward creating a new generation of dedicated, diverse educators,” said Roanoke College Education Department Chair Lisa Stoneman, whose department led the creation of Bridges.

The Truist grant will support outreach and mentoring program for Roanoke Valley high school students who could become future teachers in training. This includes programs held at Roanoke College and local high schools.

“My story is one that was made possible because of a teacher who believed in me,” said Truist Virginia Region President Thomas Ransom. “So, I wholeheartedly thank Roanoke College leaders for what they’re doing here with the Bridges Program. Truist is proud to partner and support the college in this important work, which beautifully illustrates our purpose of inspiring and building better lives.”

The Bridges Program was recognized nationally as one of three programs picked to serve as a Reseach-Partner with the National Center for Research on Educator Diversity at the University of Houston.