MECC Foundation to Host New Wise County Endowed Scholarship Fundraiser

Big Stone Gap, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host the 2023 Winter Gala on Saturday, December 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mountain Empire Community College Goodloe Center.

Proceeds from the event will go towards the newly created Wise County Endowed Scholarship. This year’s event will feature a dinner reception, locally sourced wine, beer and refreshments, a silent auction, dancing, and entertainment.

About 75 percent of all 2022 high school graduates in Wise County enrolled in MECC. In 2023, MECC has experienced an enrollment growth in the number of Wise County students, both high school graduates and returning adult students, in career and academic transfer programs. Scholarships are needed to help students achieve educational and career goals while lessening the financial burden of families.

Tickets for the event are $125 per couple and can be purchased by mail or by contacting MECC Foundation Coordinator of Philanthropy Megan Gibson at 276.523.9078 or by email at Additional sponsorship is available below.

Bronze Sponsor – $500-$999

  • Name of individual(s) or organization will be

listed in the Sponsor section of event program.

  • Recognition at the event
  • Two (2) complimentary tickets to the event

Silver Sponsor – $1,000 – $2,499

  • Name of individual(s) or organization will be

listed in the Sponsor section of event program.

  • Recognition at the event
  • Four (4) complimentary tickets to the event

Gold Sponsor – $2,500 – $4,999

  • Name of individual(s) or organization will be

listed in the Sponsor section of event program.

  • Recognition at the event
  • Ten (10) complimentary tickets to the event

Platinum Sponsor – $5,000 and above

  • Name of individual(s) or organization will be

listed in the Sponsor section of event program.

  • Recognition at the event
  • Twenty (20) complimentary tickets to the event


For more information on the Wise County Endowed Scholarship or to donate to this fund, call the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7480

Watch the John Fox Jr. Festival featuring Silas House Live

To view the John Fox Jr. Festival live stream, visit MECC’s facebook page or MECC’s Youtube Channel at the links below:



MECC Foundation Hosts 47th Annual John Fox Jr. Festival featuring Silas House

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation is pleased to announce the 47th annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival, a free virtual event featuring New York Times bestselling author Silas House, Wednesday, March 15 from 10 a.m. to noon. The festival is free and open to the public.

In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 36th Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 19th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. The deadline for submitting entries is Tuesday, February 28 at 4:30 p.m. Entry categories include adult, high school (grades 9 through 12), and middle school (grades 5 through 8) categories. Contest rules are available at the bottom of this page. Winners of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event. All winners will receive a cash prize. For contest rules, visit

The 47th Annual John Fox, Jr. festival will return to a live format in 2023, with a featured discussion on House’s latest novel, Lark Ascending. Following House’s presentation, the MECC Foundation will feature a special luncheon with House at the John Fox Jr. home in Big Stone Gap beginning at 12:30 p.m. Tickets for the luncheon are $30 and can be ordered by calling the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-7466. Tickets are limited, so please reserve early for this event.

Silas House is the New York Times bestselling author of eight books whose work frequently appears in The Atlantic and The New York Times. He is a former commentator for NPR and his work has been widely published in journals and magazines such as Time, The Advocate, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, and many others. He has lectured internationally and is widely regarded as one of the major writers of the American South.

House was born and grew up in Southeastern Kentucky. House’s first novel, Clay’s Quilt (2001), is now known as a foundational text for Appalachian Literature. Its two companion novels, A Parchment of Leaves (2003) and The Coal Tattoo (2005), were recently re-issued in new editions and are now known as The Appalachian Trilogy. House wrote Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal (2009) with Jason Howard. House’s fourth novel, Eli the Good (2009) emerged as a number one bestseller on the Southern lists and received the first annual Storylines Prize from the New York Public Library system, an award given to a book for use in the ESL and literacy programs of New York City. Same Sun Here (2012), co-written with Neela Vaswani, has received more than a dozen awards including the Nautilus, the Parents Choice, the E.B. White Honor Book Award, and many others. In 2018 his novel Southernmost appeared on Best of the Year lists of many magazines and was given the Weatherford Award and long listed for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. House has also written three plays that have been produced throughout the country.

In 2020 House received the highest honor for an artist in the Commonwealth of Kentucky when he was given the Governor’s Award for the Arts. He has also won the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Judy Gaines Young Award, the Intellectual Freedom Prize, the Caritas Medal, three honorary doctorates, and many other honors. In 2021 he was chosen as the Appalachian of the Year by a poll conducted by the podcast Appodlachia.

House served as a writer-in-residence at Eastern Kentucky University in 2004 and 2005 and at Lincoln Memorial University from 2005 to 2010. At LMU he also directed the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. In 2010 House became the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College. He has served on the fiction faculty at the Naslund Mann Graduate School of Writing since 2005. House is also an editor at the University Press of Kentucky’s Fireside Industries imprint.

His latest work, Lark Ascending, has received critical praise. As fires devastate most of the United States, Lark and his family secure a place on a refugee boat headed to Ireland, the last country not yet overrun by extremists and rumored to be accepting American refugees. But Lark is the only one to survive the trip, and once ashore, he doesn’t find the safe haven he’d hoped for. As he runs for his life, Lark finds an abandoned dog who becomes his closest companion, and then a woman in search of her lost son. Together they form a makeshift family and attempt to reach Glendalough, a place they believe will offer protection. But can any community provide the safety that they seek?

For readers of novels such as Station Eleven, The Dog Stars, and Migrations, Lark Ascending is a moving and unforgettable story of friendship, family, and healing. For more information on the MECC Foundation, please visit our website at

MECC Foundation Announces MECC Promise Program

Beginning with the class of 2023, high school graduates will receive guaranteed two years of tuition assistance

Big Stone Gap — The MECC Foundation will launch the MECC Promise program, guaranteeing all high school graduates in our service region tuition-free community college beginning with the Class of 2023.

As part of MECC’s 50th-anniversary recognition, the MECC Advisory and Foundation Boards set a goal in 2022 to raise enough funding to support up to two -years of tuition coverage for high school graduates in Lee, Dickenson, Scott, Wise, and the city of Norton.

“The MECC Promise is intended to assist the students who have plans to enroll in community college post-high school, or those that go directly to employment,” said MECC President Dr. Kristen Westover. “While we need workers, SWVA needs skilled workers. Obtaining a skill set that leads to beyond entry-level employment is critical for our residents.”

In April 2022, the members of the Genan Foundation of Charlottesville, visited MECC to tour the campus and learn more about the college’s workforce initiative. MECC staff requested Genan Foundation’s support to raise educational attainment rates in southwest Virginia, which are about 20% below the state average.

In August 2022, the Genan Foundation announced a $750,000 gift to kick off the MECC Promise program, citing MECC’s commitment to building a skilled, trained workforce in the region. MECC President Kristen Westover and MECC Foundation Executive Director Amy Greear visited each local county’s Board of Supervisors and the Norton City Council to request additional support to secure program funding beyond 2023. The program will also be supported by private scholarships, by donors with the MECC Foundation.

To qualify, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA, be continuously enrolled for up to two years, or 72 credit hours, up to the completion of the applicant’s first Associate Degree; reside in the service area and provide proof of residency; complete a FAFSA and submit all required documentation annually, and complete MECC Scholarship Application annually. The MECC Promise scholarship will be a last-dollar scholarship for tuition only.

Greear stated that all students in MECC’s service region should now view college as a viable option in the next step of their future. Training beyond high school is critically necessary to building a skilled, trained workforce. “Students will be required to dedicate long hours of studying to maintain their scholarship funding, and they will have to pay for additional expenses outside of tuition. However, the MECC Promise Program will remove the financial burden of paying tuition. This is an incredible step in building the region’s workforce and the long-term economic stability of southwest Virginia.”

Located in Big Stone Gap, MECC is celebrating its 50th year serving students in Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and the city of Norton. MECC serves more than 1,300 full-time students and more than 3,000 part-time or non-credit students in a variety of academic and career-technical programs. Learn more about MECC’s Promise Program at

For more information on the promise program, please contact the MECC Office of Public Relations, at 276-523-2400



MECC Foundation to Host 50th Anniversary Gala

MECC Foundation to Host 50th Anniversary Gala

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host the MECC 50th Anniversary Gala on Saturday evening, October 22, 2022, at Mountain Empire Community College.

The gala is black tie optional and proceeds from the event will go towards the 50th Anniversary Fund supporting scholarships, infrastructure and unrestricted needs.

The evening will begin with a reception in the Slemp Commons of Phillips-Taylor Hall at 6:30 p.m., followed by a dinner in the Goodloe Center at 6:45 p.m. A short recognition program will follow dinner, and musical entertainment by John McCutcheon will top off the evening.

Tickets for the event are $50 each and can be ordered online at the link above or by contacting MECC Foundation Annual Fund Coordinator Megan Gibson at 276.523.9078 or by email at

MECC Foundation to Host Scott County Scholarship Event

MECC Foundation To Host Annual Scott County Scholarship Fundraiser 


Hiltons, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host Grammy-nominated, 2021 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year and Grand Ole Opry Stars, Sister Sadie, for the 2022 Diamonds and Denim Event.

Sister Sadie

Sister Sadie

Diamonds and Denim will be held Saturday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the beautiful Crooked River Farm in Hiltons, Virginia. Originally scheduled for August of 2021, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. All paid tickets from the August event will be honored in full.

Now in its third year, Diamonds and Denim has raised more than $100,000 to benefit the Scott County Endowed Scholarship at Mountain Empire Community College. This year’s event will feature a dinner reception, locally sourced wine, beer and refreshments, a silent auction and entertainment.

More than 70 percent of all students in Scott County that choose to attend college in Virginia, attend MECC. The scholarship will provide opportunities for those students to reach their educational and career goals while lessening the financial burden of families.

This award-winning group originally formed after playing a sold-out show in 2012 at the legendary Station Inn, located in Nashville, Tennessee. In the group’s nine years as a band, they have gained many accolades.  In 2018, their sophomore album “Sister Sadie – II” debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Bluegrass Album category in 2019.  In March of 2019, they made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry and have been regular guests on the world-famous stage since.  Sister Sadie became the first all-female group to be awarded Vocal Group of the Year at the 2019 IBMA Awards.  In 2020, they repeated that award plus took home the Entertainer of the Year Award.  The band is also featured in the “American Currents: State of the Music” exhibition through March 2022 at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.  Most recently, the band took home, for the third consecutive year, Vocal Group of the Year at the 2021 IBMA Awards show in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sister Sadie is made up of world-renowned musicians and singers – Gena Britt on banjo, Deanie Richardson on fiddle, Hasee Ciaccio on acoustic bass, Jaelee Roberts on guitar, and Mary Meyer on mandolin.

Tickets are $75 per person and $150 per couple. Tickets can be purchased at and at the Scott County Farm Bureau office at 378 W Jackson St, Gate City, VA 24251.

For more information on the Scott County Endowed Scholarship or to donate to this fund, call the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7480 or visit





Dopesick Author Beth Macy Featured Speaker for John Fox Jr. Literary Festival

Entries Sought for Lonesome Pine Short-Story and Poetry Contests

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation is pleased to announce the 46th annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival, a free virtual event featuring Beth Macy, renowned New York Times bestselling author, and executive producer of Hulu’s Dopesick, on Wednesday, March 2 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Beth Macy


In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 35th Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 18th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. The deadline for submitting entries is Wednesday, February 16 at 4:30 p.m. Entry categories include adult, high school (grades 9 through 12), and middle school (grades 5 through 8) categories.  Contest rules are available on the MECC Foundation website at 2022 Contest Rules. Winners of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event. All winners will receive a cash prize.


The virtual festival will feature a discussion with Virginia author Beth Macy. Macy is the author of the critically acclaimed and New York Times-bestselling books, Factory Man, Truevine, and Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America (2018). Macy serves as an Executive Producer and writer on the acclaimed Hulu limited television series Dopesick, which is based on her book. All local middle and high schools are invited to participate in this virtual event at no cost. Students and community members are invited to submit questions for Macy at


Growing out of three decades of reporting from the same Virginia communities, as her prior books did, Dopesick unpacks the most intractable social problems of our time: the opioid crisis, set against a landscape of job loss, corporate greed and stigma, along with the families and first responders who are heroically fighting back. Overdose deaths are now the equivalent of a jetliner crashing in our country every day, and yet the government response to the epidemic remains, in a word, impotent.


Dopesick is, in many ways, the sequel to Macy’s first book, FACTORY MAN. It lays out exactly how the jobless “other America” ended up couch-surfing with the likes of surgeon’s daughters and civic leaders’ kids who fall prey to prostitution, jail, and even death. Tom Hanks describes Dopesick as “a deep — and deeply needed — look into the troubled soul of America.” Stanford addiction medicine specialist and author Dr. Anna Lembke calls it the first book to capture the entirety of the epidemic, “with a fast-paced narrative, colorful and inspiring characters, vivid historical detail, and a profound sense of place.”


A longtime reporter who specializes in outsiders and underdogs, Macy has won more than a dozen national journalism awards, including a Lukas Prize for Factory Man, multiple shortlist and best-book-of-the-year honors for Truevine, and a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard for her newspaper writing.

A frequent speaker, teacher and essayist, Macy has been published in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Oprah magazine, and Parade. Her approach to storytelling: Report from the ground up, establish trust, be patient, find stories that tap into universal truths. Get out of your ZIP code. To do good journalism, be a human first.


Her book, Raising Lazarus, Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Drug Crisis (August 2022), focuses on solutions to the opioid crisis and the heroic efforts of frontline workers applying harm reduction practices on the streets of America. It also will document the efforts of the Sackler family to avoid responsibility for the crisis they helped create.


For more information on the MECC Foundation, please visit our website at

-MECC Foundation-


MECC Foundation Announces $1.5M Slemp Foundation Gift for Outdoor Amphitheater

Big Stone Gap — The C. Bascom Slemp Foundation will provide a $1.5M gift to construct a 1000-seat outdoor amphitheater on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College for campus and community events.

The gift comes as the MECC Foundation launches a campaign to raise $2M as part of the college’s 50th anniversary. Fundraising will support three priorities as defined by the MECC Foundation – scholarships, infrastructure needs, and unrestricted giving. The college commemorated the 50th anniversary of its groundbreaking with a community picnic held on Friday, October 1, 2021. Additional events, including a community concert featuring country artist Darrell Scott and local band If Birds Could Fly is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022 and a 50th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

“MECC is appreciative of the Slemp Foundation’s generous gift honoring our 50th anniversary as well as their investment in providing an amazing outdoor venue for student and community cultural opportunities on MECC’s campus,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.

The outdoor amphitheater project is the first major infrastructure addition to the MECC campus in more than a decade and has been included in the college’s Master Facilities Plan for many years. The projected cost of the project is expected to land between $1.5M – $5M depending on the scale of additions such as public restrooms, covered seating areas, and sound and lighting equipment. The Slemp Foundation has requested a $500,000 match in additional fundraising for the project.

The amphitheater is expected to be constructed in the field adjoining Phillips-Taylor Hall’s Goodloe Center, with the Powell Mountain visible in the background. The college expects to hold graduation, outdoor classroom learning opportunities, Home Craft Days and Mountain Music School events, as well as partner with Pro-Art, the Crooked Road, the Barter Theater, and other municipal and non-profit entities to host community events at the facility.

“The Slemp Foundation is pleased to be able to participate in this project and value the long-term impact that it will have in these communities,” said Nancey Edmonds Smith, Co-Trustee.

When Mountain Empire Community College was established fifty years ago, Virginia Community College Chancellor Dana Hamel proclaimed, ‘It’s a Great Day to be alive in the Commonwealth’ and the late Big Stone Gap native Governor Linwood Holton claimed ‘It’s Opportunity Time.’ The late Governor Holton and Chancellor Hamel were correct 50 years ago … and today. In this 50th anniversary year, and beyond, we can make every day a Great Day and Opportunity Time at Mountain Empire Community College,” said MECC Foundation Chair Mark Musick.

“This is an incredible opportunity for not only the college but our community to host large-scale learning events, festivals, and music and cultural heritage events on campus. This will be a wonderful addition to the venue offerings in Southwest Virginia, supporting economic development and community engagement in our region. We are grateful to the Slemp Foundation for their continued support of MECC, our students, and our entire community,” said Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.

The Slemp Foundation is a private foundation established through the will of the late Campbell Bascom Slemp, U.S. Congressman from Virginia. The Slemp Foundation has awarded over $34 million in scholarships, pledges and charitable grants since its inception in 1946. With the growth of this Foundation, virtually every aspect of life in Lee and Wise Counties has been influenced.

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College by providing scholarships and funding for student success programs, professional development for faculty, and cultural programs for the community. The Foundation supports more than $800,000 in scholarships annually. For information on the college’s 50th anniversary, visit To give to the MECC Foundation, visit  For more information regarding scholarships or to establish a scholarship, please contact the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit



MECC Foundation Announces Robert and Dorothy S. Isaac Scholarship

The MECC Foundation has opened a new scholarship in memory of longtime MECC Foundation and MECC Advisory Board Member Bob Isaac. Isaac passed away August 14, 2021. 

Bob and Dorothy Isaac

Bob and Dorothy Isaac 

Bob Isaac was one of Mountain Empire Community College’s strongest supporters for over three decades. He was elected to the MECC Foundation Board of Directors in 1982 and served on the board continuously since that time. He was named an Emeritus Board Member in July 2021. From 1991 to 1993, and from 1996 to 2006, he served as board Chair. Because of his long and distinguished history of service to MECC, Bob received the Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy and was named as the 2007 MECC Hall of Honor Recipient.  

The son of Dave and Julia Tamer Isaac, Bob grew up in Appalachia and graduated from Appalachia High School in 1950 and later graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Virginia Tech. He then served two years in the Air Force as a Finance Officer at Otis Air Force Base, Falmouth Mass. and was discharged from the Reserves as a Captain. 

In June 1958 he married Dorothy Skorupa Isaac and remained happily married 63 years until his death. Bob and Dorothy had three children, Kimberly Isaac DeHart, Robert Isaac Jr., and Michael Kevin Isaac, along with eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They lived to Norton and owned and operated Dave’s Department Store from 1959 until 1994 and had a store in Coeburn from 1979 until 1984. 

After his retirement his new job for more than two decades was a volunteer at the Southwest Virginia Cancer Center, a day he looked forward to and did whatever he could do whether it be a warm blanket, push a wheelchair, obtain food for chemo patients from all local eateries or just a chat or smile to the patients. Bob served on a number of local boards and initiatives. His volunteer spirit was endless.  

Following Bob’s death, Dorothy Isaac established the Robert and Dorothy S. Isaac Scholarship at Mountain Empire Community College. Individuals may donate to the scholarship at or by sending a check to the MECC Foundation, Attn: Bob and Dorothy Isaac Scholarship, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219.  

MECC Foundation Seeks Auditing Firm

The MECC Foundation is seeking an auditing firm to perform the organization’s annual audit. Information is contained below regarding proposal submissions.




The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is soliciting sealed proposals to establish a contract through competitive negotiations for tax and auditing services.


The Foundation is an independent nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Its purpose is to generate support to advance the mission Mountain Empire Community College beyond the resource support provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia. As such, annual audits and tax reporting is required and must be completed timely and accurately.


The Foundation is seeking a reputable firm to provide the following services and present the final audit reports to the respective full Board each year. Therefore, your proposal should reflect your experience in providing these services. This proposal shall be for a period of five (5) years.

• Annual audit to be completed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. The Foundation audit is required to be submitted to the VCCS (Virginia Community College System) no later than 6 months after the end of the calendar year. Thus, the Foundation audit must be received by the Foundation office before the last week of June following the calendar year end.
• Meetings with audit committee and/or board of directors, as necessary
• Preparation of 990 tax filing
• Review of the annual report to the VCCS prepared by Financial Services Specialist
• Consultation if necessary
• Notification of accounting standards that may affect either organization


The contract will be based on a five (5) year term. The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation reserves the right to reject any and all proposals, waive any technicalities in proposals received, negotiate and accept the proposal which may be in the best interest of the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation.


Respondents to this RFP must submit all data required herein in order for the proposal to be evaluated and considered for award. Failure to submit such data shall be deemed incomplete and removed from consideration. Evaluation of the proposal will be based on, but not limited to, the following items:

1. Detail your firm’s experience in providing auditing and tax services to companies in the not-for-profit sector.
2. Provide information on whether you provide services to any institutions of higher education or any other foundations.
3. Discuss the firm’s independence with respect to MECC and the MECC Foundation.
4. Discuss commitments you will make to staff continuity, including your staff turnover experience in the last three years.
5. Identify the two largest clients your firm (or office) has lost in the past three years and the reasons. Also discuss, in instances where loss of the client was due to an unresolved auditing or accounting matter, the process of attempting to resolve the issue(s).
6. Identify the partner, manager, and in-charge accountants who will be assigned to our jobs if you are successful in your bid and provide biographies.
7. Describe how your firm will approach the audit of the organization, including the use of any association or affiliate member firm personnel and the areas that will receive primary emphasis. Also discuss the firm’s use of technology in the audit. And finally, discuss the communication process used by the firm to discuss issues with leadership of the Foundation.
8. Set forth your fee estimate for the 2021 audit for the Foundation, with whatever guarantees can be given regarding increases in future years. Also, provide your estimated fees for tax preparation services.
9. Furnish standard billing rates for classes of professional personnel for each of the last three years.
10. For reference purposes, provide the names, titles, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of other, similarly-sized clients of the partner and manager who will be assigned to our organization.
11. Describe how and why your firm is different from other firms and why our selection of your firm as our independent accountants is the best decision we could make.
12. Include a copy of your firm’s most recent peer review report, the related letter of comments and the firm’s response to the letter of comments.


A. Proposals should be brief – the inclusion of information not pertinent to the basic purpose of the response is discouraged.

B. Six (6) sets of the proposal must be submitted by 3:00 p.m., Friday, September 2, 2016, to the MECC Foundation Office, Attn: Donna Stanley, Executive Director, 3441 Mountain Empire Road; Big Stone Gap, VA 24219. All proposals should be clearly marked as “RFP – Auditing Services”. No other distribution of the proposal shall be made by the offeror.

C. All questions regarding this RFP should be directed to the MECC Foundation Office; 3441 Mountain Empire Road; Big Stone Gap, VA 24219; Telephone: 276-523-7466; Email: