Dan River Year Program Keeping Graduates in Danville

Danville, VA - One of the biggest challenges in Danville has been recruiting and retaining young people after they graduate from college.

A new program at the Danville Regional Foundation is hoping to fix the trend by bringing in recent graduates to live and work in the area.

Each participant spends ten months working 25 hours a week at one of Danville's many non-profits. At the end, they take away great work experience and a better sense of what Danville has to offer.

Rachel Covington is a Danville Regional Foundation fellow working with the Dan River Year program.

"We have a brain drain basically. People graduate high school, they go to college and they don't come back," Covington said.

Like a few of the participants, Rachel is from the Southside area but left after high school in search of more opportunities.

"[I] kind of stayed away from Danville. Never thought I'd come back here, but this job has really opened my eyes and given me a new perspective, which is kind of the goal of the DR Year Program," Covington said.

Eight year agents are currently working at non-profit organizations throughout the city, doing everything from event planning to PR. Some of them came from as far away as China.

The agents get to see what Danville has to offer, but it's also a way for city officials to see why they need these young professionals.

"It gives Danville a chance to be vibrant and creative. Young people bring out that excitement," said Year Agent Justin Ferrell.

The agents say they already have big plans for where this experience will take them.

"I'm looking forward to participating in the Duke Non-Profit Certificate Training program. I think that will really make me marketable to non-profits in the area in terms of future employment," said Year Agent Emily Holder.

When the program is over, some of the agents may stay and some may leave, but Covington says the impact of their work will leave lasting effects on our community.

"Eight passionate, enthusiastic young people here for ten months doing work in the community. So, it's a great experience for everyone. Hopefully they stay, but even if they don't it's still a huge advantage," Covington said.

This is the foundation's second year having the program and they have two cycles of participants per year. They will be bringing in their next group in January. Applications are due October 18.

To apply, or for more information, click here.