Young Leaders Clubs: The Journey and The Dream

Young Leaders Clubs: The Journey and The Dream

In 2012, when Embrace Richmond began doing community building work in the Historic Brookland Park area, one of the top concerns we heard was, “I wish someone would get the young men to stop dealing drugs on the street corners.” Longtime Embrace Richmond resident leader, Rudy Green, shared this dream.  He had been one of those young men when he was younger and had lost much of his adult life to drugs, crime and incarceration. One day Rudy approached a group of young men who were dealing drugs on the same corner at the same time that the High School bus dropped off the neighborhood youth.  Rudy asked the young men, “What is it going to take to get you off this corner?”  The young men answered him, “A job.” Rudy came back to our leadership team and shared the story.  He then proposed that we try to reach young people before they get to that point.  A few months later, Rudy started a mentoring group for young boys.  When we asked the boys if they could do anything to make their neighborhood better for young people what they would do, they said, “Provide a safe place to hang out and provide jobs so we can earn some money.” Over the next few years, Rudy meet with the boys weekly and our leadership team helped Rudy create small job opportunities for these young men.  They started a lawn care service, Embrace funded internships at local businesses, we encouraged our supporters to hire the young men for odd jobs.  However, none of these projects were consistent or sustainable with our...
Students Strengthening Communities – Post #4 Neighborhood Spotlight Series

Students Strengthening Communities – Post #4 Neighborhood Spotlight Series

  “Is my school a community? Because my school needs more help than my neighborhood.” While engaging in the Dream Catcher listening project this summer, talking about the issues facing a community, one young person posed the very poignant question of “Is my school a community?” The question came as a surprise and it was clear that the answer is an obvious YES, of course a school is a community, and a community with strengths and assets and a culture, like any geographically defined community. The question was a call to extend the ABCD model to schools; and so Students for RPS (Richmond Public Schools) was born and the desire to have student voices heard through advocacy was made clear. When advocating for stronger schools, the student voice is important, but not always heard and students don’t know how to organize in a way that ensures they are invited to the table on these issues that so greatly impact them.  Across the country there are a number of organizations like Students Leading Students, who are are seeking to assist students in advocating for policy change at the local school level.  Here in Richmond, The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is one of the organizations seeking to impact school culture.  VCIC holds intensive retreats for High School students to develop an action plan that will be implemented by the students.  However, our research revealed very few opportunities for High School students to engage in a way that impacts their entire school system. Students for RPS grew out of the desire of a group of students who wanted to advocate for...
Meet The Interns

Meet The Interns

Embrace Richmond has heard and seen so many inspiring stories throughout Richmond and over the years. If we’re lucky enough, sometimes we become part of those stories. In an effort to share the stories of people who go above and beyond to lift up their communities and themselves, we have created a team of storytellers. This team of five interns will be on the ground in Richmond neighborhoods and communities over the next few months finding the best and most creative ways to get these stories heard. They are an enthusiastic group and are eager to learn all they can about the members of the Richmond community, but before they can do that, they want to tell you a little about themselves. Kelli McNeal is a born and raised Ohio-an who moved to Richmond in the summer of 2013. She is working on completing a dual degree in Masters of Divinity at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond and a Masters in Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has Bachelors degrees in Accounting and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies from Ohio State University.  She married August 1st in Sidney, Ohio and is currently enjoying life as a newlywed.  She is an avid Ohio State University fan and loves taking a break from studying to watch the Buckeyes play any sport. She has been with Embrace Richmond since September and is currently working in North Side to help expand the block-by-block approach that has already had great success.  She is excited to work with amazing resident leaders and to experience the passion for their communities.   Owen Bagley  comes to us from Atlanta,...
2015: Our Most Impactful Year

2015: Our Most Impactful Year

As we reflect on this past year, the word that comes to mind is impactful. At the beginning of 2015, we were engaged in asset-based community development efforts in two neighborhoods. At the end of 2015, we are blessed to be supporting efforts in seven neighborhoods with two more community engagement efforts under development. This rapid expansion in asset-based community development efforts across Metro Richmond is the direct result of the hard work of our community partners who successfully completed both our Mission Shift training programs and the summer Dream Catcher projects. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to train over 200 church and community leaders in ABCD in 2015. The video below contains the highlights of this past year: The most exciting achievement this year was the expansion of the Dream Catcher project which engaged over 20 neighborhood youth in the community building efforts in their neighborhoods. As a result of their hard work, seven new action teams were formed. These teams are addressing issues of safety, community connectedness, economic revitalization, school strengthening and youth activities. Below is a short video about this project: Additionally, Embrace Richmond turned 10 years old this year and celebrated our 10 year journey with nearly 100 of our closest friends and supporters. We have captured the highlights of this 10 year journey in this video. The amazing year we had would not have been possible without our community partners, our donors, our wonderful staff, the hardworking neighborhood leaders, our board of directors and the countless volunteers who have served so faithfully. Please help us make 2016 even more impactful by...
Meet Dominique

Meet Dominique

“Imagine the sidewalk being colorful. In one year, the farmers market will be busy and the windows will be full of stained glass. People can walk around when it’s sunny and see everyone’s artwork lined up along the sidewalk.”    This is Dominique Vicks’s vision for the future.   For the past month, with the help of Embrace Richmond and Nomads Deli, Dominique has been working to develop a young artists cooperative on Brooklyn Park Boulevard. With help and inspiration from Will McGuire and Adella Barrett, the young artists co-op has slowly been making progress to improve the local community. By creating a safe space for young artists to display their artwork, the group hopes to also be a creative and positive influence on Brookland Park Boulevard. To learn more about the Artist Co-op, email Wendy McCaig at...
The Journey Begins in Broadwater

The Journey Begins in Broadwater

Thunder rumbled in the distance on Thursday as Quiana and Isah walked to the clubhouse at the Broadwater Townhomes. It was the first day of interviews for Embrace Richmond’s summer Dream Catchers Project in their neighborhood and these Thomas Dale High School students were early, eager to meet neighbors and hear stories of their life and dreams for the future. Sharniece, another Dale student, soon joined them. The girls set out on foot, accompanied by members of Chester United Methodist Church, a community partner for Broadwater. What did they learn on this first day of listening? One neighbor is a nurse on disability who speaks Hebrew. “She wants to add speed bumps,” Quiana said. “She thinks people go really fast here.” Another neighbor plays bass guitar and paints pictures. He wants people to stop littering and wants to be able to put things on his porch without worrying that they’ll disappear. Sharniece’s neighbor is a youth pastor at a local church. He lamented the lack of a community center. These townhomes are filled with children and teens, but the streets were empty on a summer afternoon, as was the community center until these young ladies gathered to prepare for their interviews. It wasn’t the heat or the threat of rain keeping them inside. There simply isn’t anything to do here, a reality that makes all three young ladies sad. Sharniece moved here from Winchester Green. “They had snack time, game time, time where you can get on computers,” she said. “It was open all the time. You just signed in, got involved, and everyone was welcome. In the summer...