Program Contact 

Colonel James Turner PHD '65 
Professor and Chair of Biology 
Science #203A 
Virginia Military Institute 
Lexington, VA 24450 

P: 540-464-7436 
F: 540-464-7047 


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VMI is a member of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), which includes Baylor University, Berea College, John Carroll University, the College of Wooster, Furman University, Lynchburg College, Middlebury College, Niagara University, Spelman College, the Virginia Military Institute, University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Notre Dame. The Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas collaborates on programming with the Consortium and additional institutions will join the Consortium during the next few years.

The Consortium fosters collaboration among member institutions for the purpose of initiating and advancing sustained curricular and co-curricular education focused on poverty and human capability in order to prepare students for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability. Its joint activities feature the Shepherd Alliance internship program, an annual symposium on teaching poverty in undergraduate and professional education, promising practices meetings for faculty and staff of Consortium schools, and a website for networking and dissemination of information.

The Shepherd Alliance unites student from member institutions with agencies that work to benefit impoverished members of society. Students learn first-hand about the multiple dimensions of poverty in the United States by working for eight weeks to strengthen impoverished communities and work alongside individuals seeking to improve their communities. The agencies, located in various urban and rural sites in the United States, focus on education, healthcare, legal services, housing, hunger, social and economic needs, and community-building efforts. Students work with agencies that fit their intellectual interests in order to develop their experience and skills for future civic involvement and employment.