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The Only Way Out is Up: How MDC helped Danville, Va., chart a new vision for its future

When David Dodson made his first trip to Danville, Va., in 1993 to meet with the president of Danville Community College, it was the beginning of a 20-year-and-counting relationship between Danville and MDC. The results of that work are proof that significant economic change can be accomplished with a long-term commitment to lifting communities out of poverty by improving education and job opportunities, broadening the local leadership base, and building capacity in community organizations.

“The Only Way Out is Up: How MDC helped Danville, Va., chart a new vision for its future” is the story of MDC’s work over those 20 years, not only with Danville Community College but also with two other key local institutions: the Future of the Piedmont Foundation and the Danville Regional Foundation. Together, the long-term partnership helped Danville—once the last capital of the Confederacy and home to the largest textile mill in the South—move from being a dying manufacturing town to one that now features computer software firms, corporate employers such as IKEA, and research in areas such as biofuels.

The booklet tells the story of Danville’s transformation through the voices of the town’s leadership, people who live there, and MDC’s program officers who helped guide the work. It also features photographs that capture what the town was, is—and is becoming.

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