Virginia’s Community College’s FastForward Credential Training Program Exceeds Expectations, Students Share Their Successes

 FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – In their first two years, FastForward workforce training programs at Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) have enabled Virginians to earn more than 11,000 industry-recognized credentials to advance their careers. The most recent statistics were shared with the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges at its scheduled July meeting.

“Thanks to FastForward, thousands of our fellow-Virginians have been able to secure new jobs and career promotions,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “In the process, many of these newly-empowered workers are enjoying healthy wage hikes, and Virginia businesses are finding more of the skilled workers they need.” 
“When we first proposed this initiative, we hoped to achieve 10,000 new credentials in the first two years, and we did even better than that,” DuBois added. “But the numbers tell only part of the story.”
This spring, the VCCS surveyed people who trained through FastForward. Nearly 700 FastForward graduates responded. 
Here’s a sampling of their survey responses:
“I was stuck in a dead end job for a boss I didn't like. Training was very satisfying, fun, and informative. After training, I got a job right away in a field that I like. I'm getting experience toward getting the job I want, which would not be possible without the training.”
“I needed a job with benefits and I was tired of working weekends. Now I am working a job that is Monday-Friday, and I love it. I am being challenged and supported by my supervisors, and my coworkers are good to get along with.”
“I had worked at a basically dead-end job for years and had few marketable skills. Within the first two sessions of class, I felt like I was finally moving forward in life. It only took me about two weeks after training to find a job in the field I trained for.”
“I was very frustrated with the part time work I was doing, with low pay and no benefits. I had been out of the work force taking care of my elderly mother, but it was only for two and a half years. After she died, I could not get anyone to hire me for a full time job with benefits. People said things like ‘We don't hire anyone who hasn't worked in a while’ as if there was something wrong with me for taking care of my mother. I had to beg for food and medicine to survive, even with the part time job. I was so glad to be able to take a short-term training program at night that showed that I could learn new skills and was willing to work in a challenging field. I passed the National certification exam and began applying for jobs. I was chosen for the first one I was interviewed for! I love my new job, and have the pay and benefits I need. The instructor was wonderful.”
“Coming from retail work but with huge passion to join the health care field to save lives, I had no knowledge about health care. But after taking my CCMA program, I totally am on the right track of achieving my dream of being a part of the health care team to save lives.” 
“We’re grateful for the General Assembly’s continued support for the Workforce Credential Grant program that makes FastForward programs so affordable to Virginians,” said DuBois. “We’re proud to share some of the stories that show FastForward is changing lives for the better in Virginia.”
Learn more at www.fastforwardva.org.
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 252,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.

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~ AG Herring has filed suit against Hearts 2 Heroes Inc., and has entered into a multistate settlement with Operation Troop Aid Inc. ~

RICHMOND (July 19, 2018) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced that his office has taken legal action against two deceptive charitable organizations that he believes have conned Virginians by falsely promising their donations would help veterans, when the money really went to benefit those operating the so-called charities. Attorney General Herring has filed suit against Hearts 2 Heroes Inc., a for-profit company doing business as Active Duty Support Services Inc., and has entered into a settlement with Operation Troop Aid Inc. and its president and chief executive officer to resolve a multistate investigation of the charity. The actions are part of “Operation Donate with Honor,” a nationwide sweep to crackdown on fraudulent charities that exploit the name of America’s veteran community to solicit donations.
“Virginians are caring people who want to give back to veterans who have risked their lives to keep our country safe. Charities that deceptively solicit funds from donors who want to help veterans are disgraceful and should be held accountable for their efforts to make money on the good name of those who have served our country,” said Attorney General Herring. “I hope these enforcement actions send a strong message to similar organizations that they need to be honest about where their money is going, and make sure they follow through on their promises.”
Hearts 2 Heroes
Attorney General Herring has filed a lawsuit against Hearts 2 Heroes, a for-profit company doing business under the name Active Duty Support Services Inc. The business conducts door-to-door sales of “care packages” that will allegedly be sent to service members overseas. The lawsuit alleges violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and Virginia’s Solicitation of Contributions law through misrepresentations regarding the nature of the business and the care packages purchased, and the use of donated funds. The lawsuit alleges that the charity violated state charitable solicitation laws in the following manner:
  • Leading prospective donors to believe that Hearts 2 Heroes is a charity, when it is not, or that donations made are tax deductible, when they are not;
  • Delivering care packages, if delivered at all, to military bases in the United States, not overseas as represented;
  • Representing to consumers that staff were veterans or volunteers when in fact those staff were not veterans or volunteers; and
  • Employing staff who would “skim” cash donations for themselves.
The lawsuit asks the court to prohibit Hearts 2 Heroes from continuing to solicit donations, as well as award restitution to the affected consumers or impose a constructive trust on all funds received so that they will be distributed for legitimate charitable purposes. The suit also seeks an award of civil penalties, and reimbursement of the Commonwealth’s costs, investigative expenses and attorneys’ fees.
Operation Troop Aid Inc.
Attorney General Herring has entered into a settlement between 16 states and Operation Troop Aid Inc. and its president and chief executive officer to resolve a multistate investigation of the charity. The settlement resolves allegations that the Tennessee-based charity violated state charitable solicitation laws, including Virginia’s Solicitation of Contributions law, by improperly spending funds for purposes other than their solicited purpose and using unfair, false, misleading, or deceptive solicitation and business practices. 
The multistate group alleges the charity violated state charitable solicitation laws in the following manner:
  • Failing to conduct proper oversight of a commercial co-venture called “Operation Teddy Bear,” in which certain retail stores sold teddy bears in military uniforms that would supposedly provide a fixed dollar amount to the charity for each bear sold for the express purpose of sending care packages to service members;
  • Failing to maintain donated funds as restricted funds, even when designated for a particular purpose, and spending funds improperly on non-charitable purposes; and
  • Using donated funds for purposes other than those expressly represented as the charitable purpose of the charity, and engaging in unfair, false, misleading, or deceptive solicitation and business practices.
The settlement requires the charity to dissolve and prohibits the president and chief executive officer, Mark Woods, from becoming an employee, officer, director, board member, or assuming any fiduciary role with a nonprofit corporation, and from soliciting on behalf of a nonprofit corporation. The charity and Woods are also prohibited from violating state charitable solicitation statutes. The settlement includes a $10,000 civil penalty enforceable by all the states to be held in abeyance to ensure compliance with the injunctive terms of the settlement.
The 16 states involved in the settlement are California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.
Attorney General Herring has made it a priority to combat deceptive charities, especially those that target Virginians supporting veterans. In December 2017, Herring announced a settlement between 24 states and VietNow National Headquarters, Inc., an Illinois charity that falsely represented that donations would help local veterans, resulting in the organization's dissolution. The settlement appointed a receiver to dissolve VietNow, obtained an injunctive relief against VietNow's directors and officers and required their cooperation in investigations of VietNow's professional fundraisers.
Since 2014, Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $246 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators. Following a major reorganization and enhancement in 2016, the OAG's Consumer Protection Section has been even more effective in fighting for the rights of Virginians.
Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section:

Today’s enforcement actions are being announced in conjunction with “Operation Donate with Honor,” a joint effort between Virginia, other states, and the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on fraudulent charities that falsely claim to benefit veterans and service members.

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