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Former UVA running back to lead nonprofit helping at-risk students graduate, find jobs

Former UVA running back to lead nonprofit helping at-risk students graduate, find jobs

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School Board

A Virginia nonprofit that helps students graduate from high school and get jobs has a new leader.

Antonio Rice, a running back for the University of Virginia in the 1980s, will serve as the next president and CEO of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, which works with at-risk students across the state. He will succeed Barry Glenn, who is retiring after leading the organization since 1996.

The organization, the state branch of a national group called Jobs for America’s Graduates, had been set to receive its first state funding increase in a dozen years under the budget the General Assembly approved in March, a $1.7 million allocation over two years. Lawmakers negated that funding increase, and other new spending, amid the economic uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic has altered everybody’s plans, which I understand,” Glenn said.

Using its roughly $574,000 from the state, JVG — as it’s commonly known — has classes at schools where teachers educate students on job skills and help them prepare for work. Job specialists also work one-on-one with students to help them figure out post-graduate plans.

Once the students graduate, as more than 95% do, the organization follows up with them for a year to help them with their job or college.

“Even though they’re labeled at-risk, they have risen above that,” Glenn said.

Those efforts will soon be led by Rice, who accumulated more than 2,000 rushing yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns for UVA from 1982-1986. He comes to JVG after serving as the director of development and operations for The Salvation Army in Charlottesville, a position he’s held since 2016.

“I couldn’t be more honored and proud to have the opportunity to stand with the outstanding teachers and specialists that support our incredible students,” Rice said. “Barry Glenn built the foundation of JVG and has been the heart and soul of the organization for many years. I hope to continue his legacy and make the kind of difference he has made in the lives of the students we serve.”

The nonprofit works in 26 schools across the state, serving more than 1,000 students, a five-fold increase from the five schools it operated in 1996-97. It initially planned on expanding into 30 more schools with the additional state funding, but those plans have been put on pause because that money was taken out of the state budget.

Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, serves as the chairwoman of the organization’s governing board.

“Antonio’s decades of leadership experience and deep passion for mentorship make him the perfect fit to carry on Jobs for Virginia Graduates’ mission to help all kids from all over the commonwealth succeed and achieve their dreams,” Filler-Corn said in a statement. “And Jobs for Virginia’s Graduates is right in the communities where the need for such passion is most urgent now at the front lines of the COVID crisis.”

Rice starts in the new role July 1. Glenn is expected to stay on for several months to help with the transition.

(804) 649-6012

Twitter: @jmattingly306

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