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Lynchburg program gets major donation to help students plan for the future

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 30 2013 04:01:39 PM EDT
Beacon of Hope 8-30-13

WDBJ7

A student receives assistance in the Beacon of Hope Future Center at Heritage High School.

LYNCHBURG, Va. -

A Lynchburg program that helps teens plot a course for the future is getting a big donation, after showing signs of success in its first year.

Elliot and Rosel Schewel are donating $100,000 to the Beacon of Hope. They're challenging the community to match that amount.

Elliot Schewel is a retired state senator and a past president and owner of the Schewel Furniture Company.

"We know that the more training and education a students gets, the better off they're going to be the rest of their life," said Rosel Schewel. "They'll have a better chance to make a decent living."

To help raise money and meet the Schewel family's challenge, Lynchburg City Council member Joan Foster is coming on board as director of development.

Beacon of Hope has "Future Centers" at both of Lynchburg's high schools, where students can learn about different colleges and vocational training programs. Counselors are on hand to answer questions and help teens plan for life after graduation.

Last year 92% of seniors at Heritage High School applied to college. That's a huge jump over the 57% that applied two years earlier.

The program is also helping economically disadvantaged students pay for and take college entrance exams and apply for financial aid that will fund their education.

Beacon of Hope was created in the wake of Lynchburg's "Dialogue on Race and Racism," as a way to give students the resources they need to reach their full potential. It's a non-profit organization, embedded within Lynchburg City Schools.A Lynchburg program that helps teens plot a course for the future is getting a big donation, after showing signs of success in its first year.

Elliot and Rosel Schewel are donating $100,000 to the Beacon of Hope. They're challenging the community to match that amount.

Elliot Schewel is a retired state senator and a past president and owner of the Schewel Furniture Company.

"We know that the more training and education a students gets, the better off they're going to be the rest of their life," said Rosel Schewel. "They'll have a better chance to make a decent living."

To help raise money and meet the Schewel family's challenge, Lynchburg City Council member Joan Foster is coming on board as director of development.

Beacon of Hope has "Future Centers" at both of Lynchburg's high schools, where students can learn about different colleges and vocational training programs. Counselors are on hand to answer questions and help teens plan for life after graduation.

Last year 92% of seniors at Heritage High School applied to college. That's a huge jump over the 57% that applied two years earlier.

The program is also helping economically disadvantaged students pay for and take college entrance exams and apply for financial aid that will fund their education.

Beacon of Hope was created in the wake of Lynchburg's "Dialogue on Race and Racism," as a way to give students the resources they need to reach their full potential. It's a non-profit organization, embedded within Lynchburg City Schools.