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Grant Helps Fund Counseling Program

by VCA | VCAF -

As part of their commitment to promoting racial justice, the Virginia Counselors Association (VCA) and Virginia Counselors Association Foundation (VCAF) announce a joint contribution of $5,000 to the Norfolk State University (NSU) counseling education programs. The funds will help defray the cost of achieving accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the gold standard in the field. CACREP accreditation assures the program has been evaluated and met the standards set by the counseling profession.

"When the counseling profession solidified its identity with the assistance of CACREP, counselors acquired more opportunities in settings ranging from schools, hospitals, and corrections to military and federal occupations. This accreditation will benefit the local counseling profession, rippling beyond the Hampton Roads area," said Dr. Keesha Kerns, NSU Clinical Graduate Coordinator. "With this accreditation for NSU, students will receive a quality education which meets or exceeds CACREP standards, which is a significant advantage for HBCUs graduating students in the counseling profession. Counseling programs with CACREP accreditation ensure their graduates are competitive in the counseling profession and human services job markets. NSU graduates will be groomed for success as mental health and professional school counselors."

Norfolk State University has been steadily working towards this goal since 2016, and efforts increased when the NSU Counseling Education Faculty received the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) CACREP grant in 2019. The grant has funded faculty attendance at workshops, a detailed self-study, and significant revisions to the counseling education curriculum to meet CACREP requirements. The grant also partially funded the third and final phase, which is the CACREP application submission and site visit. The VCA/VCAF contribution will help cover the remaining costs of the CACREP site visit, which can range from $8,000-$12,000.

"We are thrilled to be able to offer this level of support to Norfolk State University's counseling education program. This donation directly speaks to our mission to promote equity and increase diversity among professional counselors," said Dr. Wendy Eckenrod-Green, President of VCA. "The counseling profession needs to be more accessible to diverse counselors."

The cost of achieving CACREP accreditation can be prohibitive for many programs, particularly for Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Research shows that although HBCU's represent a small fraction of the colleges and universities in the country, they play an overwhelming role in the higher education of Black students. HBCUs make up just 3% of the country's colleges and universities, yet they enroll 10% of all African-American students and produce almost 20% of all African-American graduates. ( By adding CACREP accreditation to its counseling education program, NSU will join the top 17% of HBCUs with this accreditation.

Of Virginia's five HBCU's, three have counseling programs (Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia State), but only Hampton University's counseling program is currently CACREP accredited. Since many of VCA's members have graduated from one these programs, the executive board ultimately felt that an investment to support one of the state's HBCUs was also an investment in the future of VCA. They then approached the VCA Foundation about partnering on this support, and the VCAF Board agreed this donation perfectly aligns with their mission.

The Virginia Counselors Association, founded in 1931, is the state branch of the American Counseling Association. The VCA Foundation was formed in 1991 to serve and promote counselors and the counseling profession in Virginia.