John Fox, Jr. Festival
The annual John Fox, Jr. Festival features authors and storytellers. Poetry and short story contests are also conducted in conjunction with the festival, with prizes being awarded to winners in the adult, high school, and middle school categories.
The John Fox, Jr. Festival is organized and funded each spring by the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation to encourage creative writing and to bring free public literary programming to the MECC campus.
Home Craft Days
The first celebration of mountain culture in the region was realized with the establishment of Home Craft Days in 1972. Since that time, the festival has served as an integral part of Mountain Empire Community College’s longstanding commitment to promoting and preserving the rich musical and cultural heritage of Southwest Virginia.
For more than 40 years, MECC’s Home Craft Days has featured musicians and artisans from throughout Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee, and Eastern Kentucky. Demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting and much more are offered, along with musical performances throughout the three-day event. Thousands of visitors come to the MECC campus to enjoy the annual celebration.
The MECC Foundation provides financial support for music performances during the annual festival.
Mountain Music School
The southwest Virginia region is investing heavily in the development of cultural tourism. One of the region’s cultural tourism assets is its music. Mountain Empire Community College’s Mountain Music School is a week-long event dedicated to the preservation and continuation of Appalachian music and culture. The school provides opportunities for students of all ages to experience traditional old-time music with fun and supportive instruction. Students may select an instrument and skill level of their choice, including beginning and advanced “old-time” fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, autoharp, and dog house bass.
The MECC Foundation provides financial support for instruments and scholarships to enable youth that have financial need to participate in the program.
Rural Horseshoe Initiative
MECC is one of 14 rural community colleges in Virginia participating in the statewide Rural Horseshoe Initiative, which has the goal of reducing educational disparities by placing career coaches in high schools across rural Virginia; by sustaining and expanding the availability of coaches, scholarships and mentoring opportunities for foster youth through the Great Expectations program; and by providing incentives to continue education and workforce preparation for GED recipients.
The goals of the program are to:
- Cut in half the number of residents living within the Rural Horseshoe who lack a high school diploma or GED, from nearly 20 percent to 10 percent.
- Double the percentage of rural residents who earn an associate degree or other college credential from 26 percent to 52 percent.
- Double the number of participants in the Great Expectations program for foster youth, as well as the number of foster youth who graduate with an associate degree or a workforce credential.
The MECC Foundation is a partner with the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) in achieving these goals in the counties of Lee, Wise, Scott, Dickenson, and the City of Norton. Gifts to MECC’s Rural Horseshoe programs will be matched by VFCCE funds.
Advancing New Technologies
The region depends on MECC to train workers on the latest technologies. Gifts and grants provide the primary source of support for the development of new, state-of-the-art programs, including new curricula, equipment, supplies, and faculty training.
Your gifts to the Technology Fund, along with state, federal, and private grants, make possible the development of new educational opportunities in southwest Virginia.