Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Virginia Tax Program Awards Student Scholarships

Gail Melkersen, one of the promoters of the Virginia Scholarships Tax Credits program, recently met with Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA) and Shenandoah Valley Adventist Elementary (SVAE) students to present checks totaling $22,064. Seven SVA students received scholarships totaling $15,164: six SVAE students received $6,900.

“It is because of the generous support of donors that have a desire for tax deductions, Virginia tax credits and a heart for Adventist education that these scholarships can be awarded,” Melkersen says.

 (front row) Iara Nobre Ayala (’18), Kimberly Ware-Simmons (’16), (back row) Edrian Sanchez (’18) and Jamel Northover (’17). Graciela Almendarez (’18) Dan Jensen, SVA recruiter, joins the school’s recipients of the tax credit program: (front row) Iara Nobre Ayala (’18), Kimberly Ware-Simmons (’16), (back row) Edrian Sanchez (’18) and Jamel Northover (’17). Graciela Almendarez (’18)

Richmond Academy administration discovered the special tax credit program offered by the Virginia Department of Education in early 2014. The program benefits families who would otherwise be unable to afford private education. For students entering kindergarten or first- grade, or students currently attending public school, this program offers a tuition scholarship between $3,000 and $6,000 every year through grade 12, assuming the family continues to meet the annual financial qualifications. Donations to the program are, for tax purposes, considered charitable and donors receive 65 percent of their donation back as a Virginia tax credit.

Through the generous donations of 42 individuals and businesses in the Potomac Conference, the program awarded $150,831 in scholarships for the fall 2014 semester, benefitting 99 students in 12 Seventh-day Adventist schools in Virginia, including SVA.

Dan Jensen, SVA recruiter and promoter of the program, says, “We were able to help seven students attend SVA through this program. These are students who would not have been able to attend SVA without this financial support. This program is truly a win-win for all parties involved—the state, the donors and the students. We’re grateful to those who stepped out in faith to get this program off the ground. It will have an eternal impact on those students who have been able to take advantage of it.”

It is anticipated that the requests for scholarships from the program will be even greater for the spring semester. For more information, contact Jensen at or (952) 221-5707.


Featured photo caption: Gail Melkersen (second from left) presents a scholarship check to Tim LaPierre, Shenandoah Valley Adventist Elementary School principal, and Ron and Debbie White, SVA staff members. 

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