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Virginia Tech - Rainbow Riders Partnership

To meet the growing demand for high-quality, affordable child care services for the children of university employees, Virginia Tech entered into an agreement with Rainbow Riders Childcare. The Virginia Tech News article discusses the partnership in more detail.

The two Rainbow Riders centers, located at 1800 Research Center Dr. and 307 N. Knollwood Dr., both in Blacksburg, are approximately 3.5 miles from the center of the Virginia Tech campus, and offer a total of 440 spots for children from six-weeks through 12 years of age.

For additional information, contact Hokie Wellness at 540-231-8878.

Frequently Asked Questions

How was Rainbow Riders chosen to be the recipient of the private Virginia Tech funding?

Rainbow Riders was selected by means of a Request for Proposal (RFP) designed by a Virginia Tech child care committee in consultation with the Virginia Tech Procurement Department. It was made available to each licensed child care center in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, as well as four national child care chains.

Responses were received from two chains and were financially unacceptable. Of the three local responses, the Rainbow Riders proposal offered clear advantages to Virginia Tech employees including, but not limited to, proximity to the main Virginia Tech campus, the number of spots provided, and the center’s accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (a standard attained by only seven percent of early childhood programs nationwide including the Virginia Tech Child Development Center for Learning and Research at the time).

How long is the contract with Rainbow Riders?

The contract took effect on July 1, 2009 and was renewed in 2019 for five more years.

What is the source of the funds provided to Rainbow Riders by Virginia Tech?

The Rainbow Riders contractual payment of $100,000 is paid from the Virginia Tech Foundation and private funds from the eight colleges.

How will the Virginia Tech spots be allocated?

The overall plan gives preference to families on the existing Rainbow Riders wait list in order of first date of contact, or, in other words, when the family first submitted their name to be on the waiting list.

There is a great deal of complexity involved in filling available spots in each classroom. Many factors are taken into account, such as preference to already enrolled families, age and developmental level, teacher-child ratio requirements, space limitation, high demand for a small number of infant and toddler spots, etc.

While the intention is to serve the entire university community, the complexity of spot allocation makes it impossible to guarantee that each contributing financial partner will get an exactly proportional share of spots based on contribution level and employee count.

Are there any special accommodations for high priority faculty members or recruits?

In the spring of each year, college deans and the offices of the president and provost identify any preferred recruits or other high priority faculty who have child care needs. That information is provided to Hokie Wellness who works with the Office of the Provost and Rainbow Riders to identify placement opportunities. Because of the many factors involved in spot assignment, there is no guarantee that such requests can be accommodated.

Who can I talk to about the decision making process regarding priority spots in my college or administrative unit?

Decisions regarding priority spots are made by college deans in collaboration with department heads or by the head of the administrative unit.

Why would a spot go to someone who isn’t yet employed by Virginia Tech, or who hasn’t been here as long as I have?

It is very important that Virginia Tech attract and retain talented faculty from highly competitive national and international markets. The availability of high quality child care can be a central factor in such recruitment and retention.

Will Virginia Tech families receive discounted tuition from Rainbow Riders?

No. All families will pay standard tuition regardless of affiliation. The Rainbow Riders Parent Teacher Association does offer tuition scholarships for income-eligible families.

How is the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (CRC) involved in the plan?

The Virginia Tech CRC contributes an additional $20,000 beyond the original $100,000 each year to guarantee 12 percent of new enrollments annually for non-Virginia Tech employees located at the CRC.

Are Virginia Tech employees whose offices are located at the CRC part of the Virginia Tech allotment or the CRC allotment?

Individuals employed by Virginia Tech will be part of the Virginia Tech allotment, regardless of office location.

How can I determine for sure if I am a Virginia Tech or a CRC employee?

The source of your paycheck should answer this question. Also, the Rainbow Riders waiting list application form, available at the Rainbow Riders website, will include a drop down menu of CRC-affiliated companies.

I am not currently on the Rainbow Riders wait list. How can I get on it?

Go to the Rainbow Riders website,, and submit a completed waiting list application under the “Enrollment” tab. Be sure to indicate that you are a Virginia Tech employee and your college or whether you are with the Provost’s or President’s office.

I am already on the Rainbow Riders list. How do I update my information to include whether I am with a college, the Provost’s office or the President’s office?

Go to the Rainbow Riders website,, and submit your updated information under the “Enrollment” tab. Make a note in the comment section to indicate that you are already on the list. Rainbow Riders will cross reference you and be sure that the earliest contact date is maintained when spots are assigned.

How can I find out what number I am on the list?

Our waiting list does not actually number those on the list. The waiting list is a database which includes date of birth and date of first contact with Rainbow Riders. When a spot becomes available, a list of children in the appropriate age range is generated and calls are made from that list based on first date of contact.

What factors are involved when Rainbow Riders determines assignment of available spots?

Children of current Rainbow Riders staff are given first priority for available spots. Siblings of currently enrolled families receive second priority. Remaining applicants are evaluated based on first date of contact and the child’s age followed by developmental readiness for a particular age group.

When will I find out if my child has been accepted at Rainbow Riders?

While a small number of spots may become available throughout the year, generally the distribution of spots begins in early spring of each year. Families who are accepted are contacted by Rainbow Riders and given a date by which they must place a deposit for enrollment in the summer or fall. They will be invited to visit the center and discuss the Rainbow Riders program.

Who can I talk to about the enrollment process?

You may contact Rainbow Riders at or at 540-552-3636 to speak with the enrollment director.

I would like to visit Rainbow Riders. How can I do that?

Tours are offered every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Please call to be added to the tour group. If that time does not work for your family, please call and a tour can be planned for a time convenient to you.

I am a Virginia Tech staff member. Is my child less likely to get a spot than the child of a faculty member?

No. With the exception of the priority spots mentioned earlier, enrollment is based on first date of contact for a particular age group.

I work for one of the smaller colleges. Is my child less likely to get a spot?


My partner and I are both Virginia Tech employees. Will our child be more likely to get a spot?


Do I get a lower priority as a graduate student?


What other rules are there about eligibility for the Virginia Tech spots?

To be considered for the Virginia Tech allocated spots, graduate students must be enrolled full-time when offered a spot. For employees, at least one member of the family must be a salaried employee at time of invitation to be enrolled.

I am on a waiting list to adopt a child. Can I get on the Rainbow Riders list?

Yes. Go to the Rainbow Riders website,, and submit your contact information under the “Enrollment” tab on the waiting list application. It is alright if you do not yet know the child’s name or date of birth. You want to make this first date of contact. Be sure to indicate why you did not fill out the birth date and name in the comment section. Update this information as soon as you find out.

My baby is due in September but will not need care until November 15. Will our baby be able to start on that date?

It’s not likely. Rainbow Riders expects openings about four times during the year: January, March, June, and August. August has the most turnover, creating the most new spots, because pre-Kindergarten children leave for elementary school. January and March have few openings and mostly accommodate the currently enrolled families expecting babies. Occasionally, openings occur mid-year and those are filled immediately from the waiting list after in-house needs are accommodated.

What happens if we are offered a spot, but are not ready to enroll our child?

If enrollment is offered to a family who is not ready to start, they can turn the spot down, remain on the list with the same contact date, and wait for the next opening. Families may also opt to pay to hold the spot until they are ready to enroll.

I have heard the College of Engineering has a separate agreement with Rainbow Riders. Is this true?

Yes. The College of Engineering opted to enter into a separate agreement with Rainbow Riders in addition to the Virginia Tech agreement.

Please note: Enrollment is not guaranteed.