MECC Receives $2.2M Federal Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce the College has been awarded a $2.2M Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions grant.  MECC’s Pathways to Student Success grant will support expansion of academic programs, renovation of classroom spaces, and additional student advising support.

The goal of MECC’s Title III grant is to improve student’s access to education through expansion of academic programming in the science and health science areas, offer additional classes and flexible class scheduling, and require students to participate in comprehensive, one-on-one advising. As a result, student retention and completion rates will be increased. In addition, MECC students will benefit from improved quantitative literacy skills through additional faculty training and improved technology.

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of a Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “This funding will provide resources to grow our Science and Health Science program offerings, more advisors to assist students in navigating their academic programs, and professional development opportunities and improved technology for faculty and classrooms.  The success of our students is core to everything we do at MECC, and the Title III grant will provide the College with resources that will grow our already strong programs and services for students and the community. Additionally, through the grant, we have the opportunity to leverage these resources to strengthen our endowment funds, resulting in more affordable access to higher education for the residents of our region.”

The five-year grant will enable MECC to hire four new full-time faculty members in science and health science program areas. Additionally, two laboratories will be renovated at the Big Stone Gap campus to be used in biology, anatomy, phlebotomy, and pharmacy tech courses.

Another aspect of this award allows the College to participate in an endowment challenge to increase the College’s endowment funds.  As part of the challenge, the MECC Foundation has set a goal to raise $225,000 over a five-year period, with all funds raised to be matched by the Title III grant. The funds will be used to support the goals outlined in the grant program.

“The MECC Foundation is excited to announce our goal to raise $225,000 to support students and college infrastructure improvements. The pledge match from the Strengthening Institutions Grant will result in a significant, long-term impact to our campus and our region,” said Amy Greear, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.

Founded in 1972, MECC is a two-year, comprehensive public community college serving Dickenson, Scott, Lee, and Wise Counties as well as the City of Norton in southwest Virginia. The college offers more than ninety career studies certificate and associate degree programs with majors designed for both college transfer and technical education leading directly to employment. MECC serves approximately 3,500 credit students annually and 2,400 students annually through non-credit training programs.

For more information on MECC or the Title III grant, visit the college’s website at or contact the college’s Office of Public Relations at 276.523.7480.