March 9, 2020


Jodi Gillette, Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation, Inc., 434.515.5081
Cindy Babb, Lynchburg City Schools,
Erin Hillert, James River Association,

American Electric Power Foundation awards $81,000 to the
James River Environmental Education Program

The three-year grant will support a partnership between Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation, and the James River Association

The American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation has awarded the Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation, Inc. with a grant of $27,000 towards the James River Environmental Education Program to be used during the 2021-2022 school year for programs in the Lynchburg City Schools (LCS), as COVID-19 health mitigation protocols allow. This is the first payment of a three-year commitment for a total grant award of $81,000. The LCS Education Foundation is the fiscal agent in partnership with LCS and educators at the James River Association (JRA).

The James River Environmental Education Program combines STEM education and environmental stewardship, making the importance of research and environmental monitoring real and applicable to LCS students. Over the span of three years, the funding from AEP Foundation will help support environmental stewardship education centered around the James River for all 8th -grade students, and in-depth river studies for the AP Environmental and Ecology Classes at E. C. Glass and Heritage high schools as well as science students at the Empowerment Academy. The funding will also help with professional development for LCS teachers.

LCS Superintendent Dr. Crystal M. Edwards says, “We are thrilled to receive the grant from AEP Foundation in support of our partnership with the James River Association’s Environmental Education Programs. This type of experiential learning provides our students with hands-on opportunities to explore river ecosystems and learn about biotic and abiotic interactions all while having fun and creating lifelong memories. We are grateful for AEP’s investment in Lynchburg City Schools.”

JRA’s role in the James River Environmental Education Program is an extension of its goal to connect youth with river-based learning experiences that inspire confidence, ecological understanding, nature appreciation, and conservation action. JRA provides interdisciplinary learning experiences that are correlated to the Virginia Standards of Learning, with activities that are field-based and use the context of the James River to bring complex concepts to life. Through this program, JRA educators will lead 8th -grade students in conducting abiotic water quality testing, sampling of biotic species in the James River, and learning about the James River 2 and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. During a day-long field trip to Riveredge Park, every student will also have the opportunity to paddle a kayak in the scenic landscape of the James River and downtown City of Lynchburg.

“The James River Environmental Education Program will bring high quality STEM education to LCS through a unique environmental opportunity, thanks to Lynchburg’s proximity to the James River” said JRA CEO, Bill Street. “Our most prominent natural resource provides the stage for educational experiences that make the importance of science and environmental monitoring real and applicable to students. With support from AEP and partnership with LCS, this program will allow students to experience the wonder of nature, understand our place within ecological systems, and inspire the next generation of James River stewards.”

The American Electric Power Foundation is funded by American Electric Power and its operating companies including Appalachian Power. One of the areas the AEP Foundation focuses on is education, particularly programs that promote science, technology, engineering and math.

“With an emphasis on science, Lynchburg’s application caught the eye of the AEP Foundation, and we’re pleased to be part of making the James River Environmental Education program available to hundreds of students and teachers” says Larry Jackson, Appalachian Power External Affairs Director. “We strive to improve the lives of the people and families in the communities we serve. Investing in education is an important way the AEP Foundation can leave a lasting impact on the children who represent our future and the educators who are guiding them.”

“This partnership with AEP Foundation supports our commitment to protecting the environment and enriching the quality of life in our communities; the Education Foundation and JRA are dedicated to improving the lives of youth through STEM education. We are honored to be able to match the financial resources of our corporate neighbor, AEP, to advance the academic opportunities of students in the Lynchburg City Schools with the help of the James River Association,’ says LCS Education Foundation Executive Director, Jodi Gillette, “Everyone wins.”

ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. The James River Association believes that “when you change the James, the James changes you”. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit

ABOUT LYNCHBURG CITY SCHOOLS EDUCATION FOUNDATION: The Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 1985 and is committed to advancing excellence and equity in the Lynchburg City Schools through advocacy and educational funding. The Education Foundation funds ongoing initiatives designed to provide additional resources for teachers, recognize student accomplishments, and strengthen our schools through programs such as Classroom Innovation Grants, the Tools4Schools Warehouse, Senior Honors Recognition, and student scholarships. For more information visit