Virginia529 Hires Former Brightpoint Community College President
Dr. Edward “Ted” Raspiller Will Lead Project Boosting Education Access through Statewide Mentorship, Scholarship and Workforce Development Programs
Virginia529, a national leader in education, disability, and retirement savings, is proud to announce the hiring of outgoing Brightpoint Community College President Edward “Ted” Raspiller, Ed.D, to lead efforts expanding the organization’s mission of making post-high school education and training more accessible and attainable for all Virginians.
A longtime educator, Raspiller brings more than 30 years of experience in teaching, higher education administrative leadership and workforce development to the role.
Raspiller’s official start date was February 25.
“Helping young Virginians, many of whom are underserved and under resourced, from slipping through education access gaps not only helps them reach their potential and achieve personal financial wellness, but it makes for a more robust state economy,” said Mary Morris, Virginia529 CEO.
“The entire Virginia529 team is excited to work alongside Ted to meet students’ current and evolving needs. Pairing his expertise and our mission can have a transformative effect on how students approach their future, and how supported they are by their home state on that journey.”
Opening the Doors of Opportunity through New Partnerships
As director of the new access and affordability initiative, Raspiller will provide the strategic, policy and program direction for Virginia529’s post-high school education access efforts. Within his role, he will be responsible for establishing additional partnerships with organizations across the state and launching support for low- and moderate-income families in high need areas, schools and communities in Virginia.
"Access to affordable higher education is critical to helping every Virginian thrive and for maintaining a prosperous economy in the commonwealth. Having led this work in community colleges for over 30 years, I know the importance of opening doors to educational opportunities and understand how education empowers and builds strong communities. I am thrilled to bring my experience to Virginia529 and look forward to this opportunity,” Raspiller said.
Expanding on a Longtime Commitment
For more than a decade, Virginia529 has supported students facing financial obstacles in their pursuit of higher education through the SOAR Virginia® program. SOAR Virginia prepares eligible high school students across Virginia for education beyond high school through a combination of individual advising and up to $2,000 in an Invest529 scholarship account. To date, SOAR Virginia has served almost 11,000 students and provided more than $12.5 million in scholarship support.
Expanding Virginia529’s education access efforts is a natural reflection of the evolution of 529 plans and a response to workforce needs. Since their inception, approved uses for 529 plans have grown beyond traditional college tuition and related qualified expenses to include K-12 tuition, registered apprenticeship programs and qualified student loan repayments.
“Higher education costs and student debt have been areas of concern for years; in fact, increasing higher education costs was the reason Virginia529 was first created almost 30 years ago,” Morris said.
“More than two-thirds of high-demand jobs require skills and credentials beyond high school, but not necessarily a four-year degree. Our state leaders recognize that there is no single pathway to academic and professional success, and we are uniquely qualified to support efforts around the state that will help remove the barriers --- beyond cost --- for families.”
A Pilot Project that Serves the Whole State
In 2021, the Virginia529 Board, under its statutory authority and as recommended in a July 2020 report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, approved a $13.5 million, three-year pilot project to support access programs across the state in the areas of mentorship and coaching, scholarships and grants, and workforce development.
Existing partnerships include:
- State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and GEAR-Up Virginia
- Virginia Community College System (VCCS) supporting G-3, FastForward and other programs
- Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) supporting Great Expectations, the Rural Virginia Horseshoe and other programs
- Virginia Departments of Education and Labor (particularly with respect to workforce training)
- GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP)
- Virginia College Advising Corps (VCAC)
- ACCESS College Foundation
- Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN)
Since the pilot’s launch, almost 40,000 high school and community college students have been served and additional mentors and career coaches have been hired across the state. With the hiring of Raspiller, Virginia529 is poised to gain momentum on these efforts by enhancing and strengthening these valuable partnerships.
For nearly 30 years, Virginia529 has provided flexible, affordable tax-advantaged savings options to families. On behalf of its statewide partners, the thousands of students around the state who have received scholarships and other resources through those partnerships, and the hundreds of thousands of families who save with Virginia529 for their loved ones’ futures, Virginia529 looks forward to continuing to contribute to a highly skilled workforce and building programs that make education and credentialing opportunities accessible for all Virginians.