Growth4VA Coalition Advances Successful Legislative Agenda in Virginia

March 20, 2019

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Launched in the fall of 2017, Growth4VA is a broad-based bipartisan coalition of business, education, and political leaders and Virginians who believe that higher education is a crucial economic engine for our Commonwealth.

The coalition was founded by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council and supported by all 16 public colleges and universities in Virginia, the Virginia Community College System, and Virginia’s non-profit private institutions. They promote reform and reinvestment throughout the Virginia higher education system by advancing 4 major strategies for economic growth and opportunity: Make Virginia the Top State for Talent; Become known as the Home of Innovators and Entrepreneurs; Prepare Virginians for Great Jobs and Great Lives; Provide Affordable Access for All Virginians.

The coalition pushed forward legislation and budget requests to address Growth4VA priorities during the 2019 legislative session. As a result of these efforts, the General Assembly allocated over $100 million in new funding for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to address affordable access, talent development, and faculty salaries. Further, the legislature passed important legislation advocated by the coalition that will create a process to partner with the state in key areas including affordable access and cost predictability, talent development, research commercialization, economic development, business process improvements, and other high state priorities. Further details on these initiatives are provided below.  

These efforts were advanced by building a strong coalition of business, education, and political leaders who leveraged extensive social media and email to activate stakeholders to push policy makers to take action and support higher education.

Affordable Access

Growth4VA advanced varied options for addressing college affordability, nearly all of which were embraced in the adopted budget.  The total new investment for the next fiscal year totals $81 million:

  • $57.5 million in tuition moderation incentives, available to public institutions that opt to forego tuition increases for in-state undergraduate students
  • $15.5 million increase in student financial aid at public colleges, universities, and community colleges
  • $3.5 million increase for TAG Grants at private colleges and universities
  • $500,000 increase in an innovative new pilot program to promote business-higher education collaboration on internships
  • $4 million for workforce credential grants

Talent Development

Growth4VA called for new state investment to dramatically increase the number of undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science, information technology, and other high-demand areas that are state priorities for talent development.  The General Assembly passed legislation creating a tech talent development fund that allows individual institutions to reach agreements with the Commonwealth on measures to enhance the “tech talent pipeline” in Virginia, and it supported key investments, including:

  • $16.6 million in new funding to increase the number of computer science and information technology degrees
  • Preservation of $20 million approved for the “Cyber X’ Initiative by the General Assembly in the 2018 Session, an initiative that focuses on cybersecurity research commercialization and workforce preparation.

Faculty and Staff Salaries

Growth4VA recognizes that it takes top talent to train top talent, so supporting recruitment and retention of faculty and staff are key components of success for Virginia’s higher education system.  The Governor’s introduced budget included funding for a 1 percent bonus in addition to the 2 percent salary increase for faculty and staff approved in the 2018 Session.  The adopted budget eliminates the bonus and instead increases faculty salaries by an additional 1 percent – to a total of 3 percent – at an estimated additional cost of $15 million.  It also provides a larger salary increase for college staff instead of the proposed bonus.  

Institutional Partnership Performance Agreements and Internships

Growth4VA promoted legislation that would authorize Institutional Partnership Performance Agreements between individual colleges and universities, the state, and key partners, including business organizations.  The agreements would provide for collaboration on affordable access and cost predictability, talent development, research commercialization, economic development, business process improvements, and other key priorities.  The General Assembly approved the concept, authorizing up to 6 agreements to be negotiated each year, and added language making permanent the new state fund that promotes business-higher ed collaboration on internships.

For more information on the campaign or how a coalition might help advance your education agenda, please contact Laura Fornash at (804) 775-1933 or