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News from the Community: Celebrating 10 Years of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders

On the 14th of June 22 rising nonprofit leaders representing 20 different local organizations were congratulated by community leaders, nonprofit peers and the City of Richmond’s Mayor on “a job well done” as the 10th class of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) commenced.

Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

During the graduation ceremony, the leaders were awarded certificates and personal tributes, while Mayor Levar Stoney thanked them for their “commitment to the community”.

From left to right: Sherrie Brach Armstrong, CEO of The Community Foundation; Kathleen Demro, Vice President of Community Engagement, The Community Foundation; Levar Stoney, City of Richmond Mayor; Susan Wilkes, ENLP Lead Faculty. Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

Susan Wilkes was also given a special recognition for her commitment over the past 10 years as Lead Faculty for the program.  She said this about the 10th class, “the level of camaraderie and commitment of the ENLP ‘10 was impressive.   I loved the way they contributed actively to each other’s learning and growth, and were able to apply everything we discussed to bettering themselves and their organizations.  So many in the group are already making a tremendous difference in our community.  With what one called the “power boost” of ENLP, they are going to have a strong upward leadership trajectory!”

Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program is a dynamic eight-month experience for the next generation of nonprofit leaders in the metro Richmond area. During the program, participants foster a deeper understanding of their leadership capacity, advance their understanding and practice of leading in the nonprofit sector, and strengthen their network of nonprofit colleagues.

The program has demonstrated measurable results, building a cadre of talented leaders for the future of the Greater Richmond community.

In addition to participating in engaging sessions on topics including strategic leadership, organizational change, collaboration, and coaching others, participants:

  • Experience team building through a rigorous and challenging outdoor course setting
  • Increase awareness of their leadership through a thorough assessment process
  • Benefit from individual leadership coaching, provided by professionals with experience in leadership development and nonprofit management
  • Interact with five local exemplary Executives-in-Residence in a forum where they share their experiences and perspectives

Sherrie Brach Armstrong, President & CEO of The Community Foundation praised the program, saying, “our local nonprofit sector depends on a strong, well-supported network of leaders to create a better future and lasting results for our community. The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program creates connections among individuals who have a desire to create positive change and further empowers them to grow in their careers. We congratulate the Class of 2017 and look forward to the many ways they will help shape our region in the years to come.”

The program also offers periodic alumni networking and continued learning experiences, including a new offering this year called “Transforming RVA.” Throughout the spring, 11 ENLP alumni participated in a series of small-group discussions with transformational leaders in the  field, including Damon Jiggetts of Peter Paul Development Center, Tanya Gonzalez of The Sacred Heart Center, Lisa Frieman of the Institute for Contemporary Art and Jon Lugbill of Sports Backers. Together, the group explored their own sources of inspiration, how they inspire others through a common vision, how to sustain themselves through challenging times and how they use innovation and collaboration to facilitate positive change for our region. With continuous learning as a cornerstone to the ENLP program, graduates are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities.

Any nonprofit professional interested in applying for ENLP in the future should attend an upcoming information session on July 11th or 26th.

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program 2016-2017 class. Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

The 2016-2017 Emerging Nonprofit Leader Graduates are:

Congrats ENLP class of 2016-2017!

Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Chris Beach, Executive Director, Relationship Foundation of Virginia

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Chris Beach and I am the Executive Director of the Relationship Foundation of Virginia.  I have been in the nonprofit field for 6 1/2 years.  I have worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters and FRIENDS Association for Children.  Prior to my work in the nonprofit field, I was a teacher for 12 years at the elementary and middle school levels.

What is the focus of your work, the need you are addressing?

The Relationship Foundation of Virginia recognizes that the strength of our community and the future of our commonwealth lies in the health of the family.  When our families and relationships are healthy, life is richer and more fun.  Without strong, lasting relationships, life can be harder, feel emptier and lead to more challenges – not only for us, but our communities.  As our name suggests, we are dedicated to building the fundamental element of strong communities; healthy relationships and families.

For youth, we deliver programs that teach self-respect and respect for others.  For individuals single or in long-term relationship and marriages – we lead engaging programs to create awareness and provide the practical tools to pursue and sustain strong relationships.  For new and expecting dads, we equip them with the skills to be active, committed fathers for life.  We provide all with the confidence and strength to thrive.

By understanding the complexity and joys of relationships, we help everyone we serve be more successful, which makes our community a better place to live.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I am actually living out my life through my work.  I still get to go into the schools and teach children, which is truly my passion.  As a father to four boys, I can speak to new dads from years of experience as a father while learning from other great dads.  Being married to my best friend and wife for nearly 15 years, I can help couples slow down and take time for each other, not to mention it forces me and my wife to do the same.  I get to do things at work which help me in my real life.  It doesn’t get more rewarding than that!

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

As an organization, we are seeing over 200 dads per year through our programs.  However, these are dads that know about us.  To make a true impact on our community, we need to reach new populations of dads that do not realize that we can be a resource for them.  In partnership with RVA Promise Neighborhood and Peter Paul Development Center, we are offering our Boot Camp for New Dads program to soon-to-be dads in the East End who may not otherwise have access to the hospitals in which we offer the program.  By offering free tuition, transportation and lunch, we are giving these dads every opportunity to learn from veteran dads and give them the peace of mind that although fatherhood is not easy, they can do it.

 

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

Many people think that our organization is just for married people.  In reality, everyone is in a relationship and we strive to meet people wherever they are. Whether you are a teenager thinking about dating, a couple that is just starting out or a dad that is raising your new child alone, we are here to help.  Our goal is to become the trusted leader for relationship in the entire state.

 

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

We just finished our second program of Inside/Out Dad in Chesterfield County Jail.  This is an evidence-based program which provides incarcerated fathers with the opportunity to learn from other fathers in their position while providing lessons that will help them to make educated decisions about how they will father when they are released.  The goal of this program is to re-connect the inmates with their children while they are incarcerated so they do not recidivate when they are let out.  We are excited because due to the success of the program in Chesterfield, we will be offering this course in Henrico County jails as well.

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

We are always excited to partner with other nonprofit organizations as it helps both organizations reach more people and further our individual missions.  This summer we are partnering with multiple nonprofits for our Date Nights.  In June, we are offering a Date Night titled Dance and Romance.  This is a free date night in partnership with Dancing Classrooms Greater Richmond where couples will learn how to cha cha and better communicate as a couple.

In July, we are partnering with Escape Room RVA and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to offer Art of Communication.  This will be an evening where you will put your communication skills to the test as search for the clues to solve the puzzle as you enjoy one of the greatest collections of art in the United States.

In August, we will be partnering with Richmond Metro Habitat for Humanity offering a Day Date called Building a Strong Foundation where couples will help with a local build and learn ways to strengthen their relationship.  We are already working with other groups such as Richmond Animal League and Jacob’s Chance to plan date nights for the fall.

If any organizations have a great idea for a fun date night, let us know, we are always willing to make it happen!

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

The Community Foundation is always offering great enrichment opportunities for nonprofit workers to sharpen their skills.  Personally, I just finished the 10th cohort of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program which I will use as I continue to grow as a leader of my organization.

We are also excited to be one of the program providers for TCF’s youth leadership program NextUp.  We have taken part in the past two sessions and look forward to taking part in the fall.

I am also very excited that I was chosen as a recipient of the Stettinius Nonprofit Leadership Award.  I will use this scholarship to continue my education in the nonprofit sector and strengthen my leadership abilities to become a greater advocate for stronger families in our state.

I hope that people reading this article will take the time and learn more about our organization and reach out to see how we can make our community a better place for our families.

Anything else you would like to share?

I hope that people reading this article will take the time and learn more about our organization and reach out to see how we can make our community a better place for our families.

I love starting new relationships with other people, businesses and nonprofits.  If you would like to learn more about what we do and want to share what you do, email me (chris@rfva.org) and let me treat you to a cup of coffee.  The more we know about what is out there, the stronger we are as a whole.  Let’s @getrelational RVA!

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Keri Treadway, Teacher, Richmond Public Schools

Keri is a first-grade teacher at Fox Elementary and has been with Richmond Public Schools for 14 years. Her dedication to her students and her city extends far beyond her day job, however.  She shows up, she organizes, she donates, she solicits support from local businesses, all in the name of the children she cares so deeply about.  Keri is a co-founder and organizer behind the “Support Richmond Public Schools” movement as well as “Building a Better RPS“.

Keri Treadway’s first grade classroom at Fox Elementary. She has a reading loft, artwork hanging from the ceiling, a listening station, and her classroom is decorated with polka dots!

Support Richmond Public Schools is a grassroots movement in the city of Richmond where community members connect, learn and advocate for positive change in the school system – from work environments, to salaries to funding and more.  Keri has helped organize several rallies and fundraisers through Support Richmond Public Schools.

Recently, she played a key role in advocating for a needs-based RPS budget. She is now focusing her attention on a campaign to urge elected officials to resist moving the Mayor’s Education Compact forward until a new Superintendent has been selected.

In addition to the “Support Our Schools” rallies and fundraisers she helped facilitate last year, Keri also coordinated volunteer efforts that led to over a dozen RPS schools being updated by volunteers over the summer through Building a Better RPS.

Building a Better RPS is a community based effort that brings change to the Richmond Public School System through projects and fundraising efforts to support students and teachers.  It was inspired by the momentum behind “Supporting Our Schools” and officially became a nonprofit last summer.

Keri and other board members from Building a Better RPS built partnerships with local restaurants and breweries to raise $20,000 last summer.  The money supports work like landscaping and enhancing the appearance of the schools.  The organization has frequent fundraisers, and the next one will take place at Garden Grove Brewery.

Keri volunteering with Building a Better RPS – an organization she co-founded and is a board member.

Keri has also helped other teachers set up DonorsChoose projects. DonorsChoose.org is a national nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects.

The person who nominated Keri for the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame” says that “she is a fierce warrior and we are lucky to have teachers like her advocating for our children.”

If you’d like to stay up-to-date with the work of Support Richmond Public Schools or get involved with their work, request to join their Facebook group.  Now that school is winding down for summer, you can join Building a Better RPS at an upcoming volunteer project; the next one is taking place at Armstrong High School, where community members will help landscape the school.  Visit HandsOn Greater Richmond’s site for more opportunities to volunteer at Richmond Public Schools.

 

About the Help Somebody Hall of Fame

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here.

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Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Ethnicity

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

In a recent blog post, we shared that diversity is the presence of difference generally related to one’s identity and might include ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Inclusion is the accepting, respecting, and valuing of this diversity.  Working to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be a fundamental part of fulfilling the mission of any nonprofit. It creates an environment of involvement and connection and allows for the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives to be harnessed to create value for the organization, clients and the community.

To begin moving towards active inclusion in the workplace, nonprofit leaders must 1) examine their own lens to have a deeper understanding of their perspectives and perceptions to create a framework for approaching and addressing their own bias – whether that be conscious or unconscious.  Nonprofit leaders must 2) ask and encourage tough questions to create deeper dialogue within their organization, especially with staff who come from different backgrounds than them.  This will allow the leader to develop a clearer understanding of how experiences affect work styles, behavior, communications, and relationships and eventually form an atmosphere of greater trust.  Nonprofit leaders must 3) acknowledge institutional bias, which are the practices, policies, structures and traditions that push some people up and others down based solely on identity. It’s important leaders realize that institutional bias may exist in their own organization causing barriers towards inclusion and ultimately, equity and justice.

Local Barriers and Suggestions for Interventions

What are some of the barriers that organizations, leaders and staff create in local nonprofit organizations that prevent diversity and inclusion (in both the workplace itself and with clients and the community)? What are actions steps that they can take to intervene and overcome these barriers, leading to a more inclusive nonprofit environment?  The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders group analyzed several different “Identities” in relation to their own organization and below are the findings.  This week we focus on one of nine identities – “Ethnicity”.  In later posts, we will focus in on the others – gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Make sure to read our previous posts on Ability Status and Age.

 

Ethnicity

A main discussion from the group was around the difference between ethnicity and race.  Often, the words are used interchangeably but the two words do have separate meanings.  According to the World Atlas, race is the word used to describe the physical characteristics of a person and might include everything from skin color to eye color and facial structure to hair color. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is the word used to describe the cultural identity of a person. These identities can include language, religion, nationality, ancestry, dress, and customs.

Regarding ethnicity (we will discuss race in another segment) the group mentioned several barriers that they’ve observed in their workplace.  One well-known barrier in the nonprofit sector is under-representation of ethnic and cultural diversity on nonprofit boards.  The participants observed that many organizations that serve low-income communities that are often ethnically diverse have few board members from diverse backgrounds.  They extended this notion to upper-level management as well.  This makes serving and understanding the communities being served much more difficult.  One specific barrier related to this is a language barrier from those providing the services and those receiving them in the local nonprofit sector.

Another common occurrence is the lack of individual donors from diverse cultural backgrounds.  Nationally, this is true, as well.  According to Blackbaud’s latest “Diversity in Giving Study” nearly three-fourths of donors today are non-Hispanic whites, even though whites make up only 64 percent of the population. Conversely the study finds that both African-Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented in the donor universe. Asian donor participation appears congruent with the Asian population size.  The study goes on to say that the under-representation of African-Americans and Hispanics suggests that organized philanthropy is not doing an adequate job of engaging non-white communities. For instance, African-American and Hispanic donors say they are solicited less frequently.  Furthermore, they suggest they would give more if they were asked more often.  The group agreed that understanding the differences in giving traditions in various cultures and creating engagement strategies accordingly would help to make the individual support base for their organizations more diverse.

The participants went on to express the importance of their organizations becoming very intentional in making all aspects of their organization more ethnically diverse.  This strategically could include training (that’s mandatory!) within their organizations to build cultural competency, professional development and looking at outside resources that might be available.

Regarding attracting more diverse talent, the group said that the organization should intentionally recruit for ethnic diversity within all levels of the organization as well as the board. Bridgespan has some tips on recruiting ethnically diverse staff and in an earlier post on D&I Jonathan Zur gives some examples of best practices for recruitment.  Here are some practical tips from Blue Avocado for recruiting for board diversity.  Board Source has a ton of great tools like this Diversity and Inclusion Assessment.  The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities also has a training coming up on June 14th through their Workforce Inclusion Network (WIN) on “Measuring Diversity and Inclusion Efforts” that can help you get started.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Emily O’Keefe, Domestic/Sexual Violence Coordinator, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Emily O’Keefe, and I work as the Domestic/Sexual Violence (DSV) Coordinator at Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS), whose mission is to provide access to health care and basic human services to Goochland residents in need.

I started my work in human services in a crisis stabilization unit. After getting my MSW, I was a case manager and then program manager working with individuals released from jail or prison.  My work with GFCFS focuses on trauma informed care for survivors of DSV.

ABOVE: A video about the mission and programs of GFCFS.

 

What is the focus of your work?

Our DSV Program focuses on trauma informed care for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence by supporting them during the transition from an abusive relationship. This includes giving them space to make the decision to leave or get resources. We advocate for survivors during the court process to provide support and information.  We also can provide emergency housing and direct counseling.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

It is very rewarding to help someone during the most difficult point in his or her life.  Making sure survivors are safe and seeing them take the next step are perhaps the greatest rewards.  Clients are grateful for the help we offer, but in the end, I am thankful to be able to provide that support.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

DSV is a difficult field to work in due to the stressful nature of the client’s story.  Being in the midst of trauma can be scary and draining.  As a DSV social worker I take self-care very seriously making sure that I have a professional familiar with DSV to talk to, that I set boundaries, and that I nurture life outside of the organization.

I have two amazing dogs that mean the world to me. I have a secret beach on the James we go to play; they love to swim. It’s my safe place.  I also draw/collage and make what some consider art. I love to cook things and try to find recipes specific to different countries or culture. I make an amazing borscht.

What would someone be surprised to know about GFCFS?

People are always surprised at how many services GFCFS offers to our community. In addition to the Domestic/Sexual Violence Program, GFCFS has a holistic approach to health care with 11 programs including medical, dental and mental health care, food, clothing, home repair, emergency housing, financial assistance, medical transportation and case management.  Our goal is to provide a “one stop shop” for clients, because we are located in a rural community with limited access to transportation.

 

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

As a result of the All.Here.Now. Capital Campaign, we are building a new building that will house all of our programs.  Having all programs under one roof will help further our goal of providing holistic care for our clients. In the DSV Program we hope to initiate a Women’s Empowerment Group.  I am also excited about expanding volunteer opportunities.  We will be conducting a second series of DSV training sessions and expanding how volunteers can get involved in this prog

GFCFS seeks to raise $7.1 million, which includes about $5.6 million for construction of a 20,000-square-foot facility that will provide space for 11 programs currently offered at three separate sites. A $1.5 million endowment to ensure future operations is also included in the campaign. A groundbreaking was held on March 21 at the site, 3001 River Road West. It will combine critical assistance programs including medical and dental clinics, a food pantry, and an initiative to provide clothing to those in need. The existing main building at this location will be converted into emergency housing. The new building (photo rendering on bottom) is anticipated to be finished in winter 2017. Read more here: http://richmondmagazine.com/news/news/news-west-of-richmond-henrico-goochland-may-2017/

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

This semester we have had the opportunity to facilitate a portion of the health curriculum at Goochland High School. We worked with freshman and sophomore students to define healthy relationships, discuss teen dating violence, how to access resources, but most importantly how to set and respect boundaries in relationships. It was a lot of fun and the students were excellent.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

Currently, we have a job opening posted on ConnectVA!  If you or someone you know is a good candidate for an LCSW position with an emphasis on trauma informed care, please see the position description on ConnectVa.

Also, I applied for this position through ConnectVA, Thanks ConnectVA, I love my job! The Community Foundation is a strong partner with GFCFS. Sheltering Arms and Jenkins Foundations provided support from the start for the Free Clinic. Our staff has benefited from their development workshops- topics ranging from case management to grant writing to Excel.

Anything else you would like to share?

Although our Domestic/Sexual Violence Program is fairly new, we have seen success.  We have worked with many women who have experienced severe sexual and domestic trauma from a very young age. We have been able to see some of them transition into independent housing for the first time in their lives. Even though the daily stories are horrific and scary, I am consistently reminded how strong and resilient the human spirit can be. I am impressed by how survivors have had the courage and ability to keep themselves alive and seek resources. It is very encouraging. To find out more about GFCFS, please go to GoochlandCares.org.  If you or someone you know needs help, our 24/7 hotline number is 804-980-6267.

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Creating An Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Age

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

In a recent blog post, we shared that diversity is the presence of difference generally related to one’s identity and might include ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Inclusion is the accepting, respecting, and valuing of this diversity.  Working to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be a fundamental part of fulfilling the mission of any nonprofit. It creates an environment of involvement and connection and allows for the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives to be harnessed to create value for the organization, clients and the community.

To begin moving towards active inclusion in the workplace, nonprofit leaders must 1) examine their own lens to have a deeper understanding of their perspectives and perceptions to create a framework for approaching and addressing their own bias – whether that be conscious or unconscious.  Nonprofit leaders must 2) ask and encourage tough questions to create deeper dialogue within their organization, especially with staff who come from different backgrounds than them.  This will allow the leader to develop a clearer understanding of how experiences affect work styles, behavior, communications, and relationships and eventually form an atmosphere of greater trust.  Nonprofit leaders must 3) acknowledge institutional bias, which are the practices, policies, structures and traditions that push some people up and others down based solely on identity. It’s important leaders realize that institutional bias may exist in their own organization causing barriers towards inclusion and ultimately, equity and justice.

 

Local Barriers and Suggestions for Interventions

What are some of the barriers that organizations, leaders and staff create in local nonprofit organizations that prevent diversity and inclusion (in both the workplace itself and with clients and the community)? What are actions steps that they can take to intervene and overcome these barriers, leading to a more inclusive nonprofit environment?  The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders group analyzed several different “Identities” in relation to their own organization and below are the findings.  This week we focus on one of nine identities – “Age”.  In later posts, we will focus in on the others – ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Make sure to read our previous post on Ability Status.

Age

Ageism is the stereotyping or discrimination of a person or group of people because of their age.  Typically, ageism refers to older individuals but more recently, the definition has broadened to include “any prejudice or discrimination against or in favor of any age group.”

Local nonprofit leaders saw a few patterns and occurrences in the workplace – particularly relating to ageism perceptions and the negative implications they can have.   The group discovered that individuals are often grouped into categories related to interests and abilities based on age.  For example, younger staff were considered more tech savvy, while older staff were thought to be uninterested in technology and not willing to learn.

Other occurrences included assumptions and perceptions based on age related to one’s viewpoints, work styles and work ethics.  Younger participants reported having issues with their perspectives not being valued or taken seriously, as well as having a perceived “lack of experience” and not being given the opportunity to give input or perform.  Older participants reported that their perspectives were considered outdated, and therefore not valued, as well as feeling discriminated against in the hiring process – with assumptions being made that “an organization can’t afford to hire me”.

A recent article in Profiles in Diversity Journal confirmed many of these sentiments saying, “Within each generation is a relatively benign but present ageist view on the surrounding generations. Boomers think Millennials are careless and, although educated, only educated topically; they can do their jobs, but take away their computers and they won’t have a clue, unlike Boomers and Generation X. Millennials tend to think of Boomers and Generation X as behind the times as well as technology-resistant and inept. What all generations need to understand is that that everyone benefits from generational diversity in the workplace.”

The group had many great ideas on interventions to overcome some of these barriers to move towards generational diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  One of the most important tactics is education against stereotypes in the workplace.  Another suggestion is to create occasions (facilitated or not) for intergenerational conversation topics, or go a step further and create intentional intergenerational project teams.  Read this article by the Nonprofit Times on 8 Steps to Creating an Age Diverse Culture for tips to get started.

Other ideas included creating opportunities like mentorships and/or internships to promote intergenerational interaction and relationship building.  The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA (YNPN RVA) has tips for mentors and mentees for Building Relationships, and this article by Next Avenue explains the concept of “Reverse Mentorships” where an older worker might seek out guidance from a much younger worker.  If you’re looking for advice for creating an internship, you can check out ConnectVA’s many articles on related topics, as well as our “Connect to Students” page which shares contact information from each local school/department for finding interns.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Eric Drumheller, Director of Client Benefits and Special Projects, RRSI

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, my name is Eric Drumheller and I am the Director of Client Benefits and Special Projects at Richmond Residential Services, Inc.   I truly enjoy being a part of RRSI and its mission to provide person-centered care to people with intellectual disabilities, focusing on the whole individual, while encouraging choice, growth and community participation.  I am a native Virginian and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University.  I have been working with nonprofit organizations for the past 17 years.

RRSI owns and maintains several group homes located in quality neighborhoods, which are easily accessible and designed with their clients in mind.

What is the focus of your work?

I am responsible for the Representative Payee Program which provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of beneficiaries who are not able to manage their benefits due to a disability.  We work with area social service agencies such as Virginia Supportive Housing, the Daily Planet, as well as Community Service Boards in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Petersburg to help identify individuals who need support with managing their benefits.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

One of the most rewarding parts about my work is our clients.   An initial step we take in helping someone manage their benefits is to work together to develop a budget.   That budget changes many of our clients’ understanding of their benefits and where their money was going previously.    It is truly rewarding when a client can now afford their housing and has money for other needs as well.

RRSI began partnering with local Social Services agencies who work with the homeless population.   It has been very rewarding to become part of a team to help someone live in permanent, safe and affordable housing.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

I think our major challenge today is the current political climate. Everyday seems to bring change – good or bad that impacts just about everyone.  We hear from our clients who are worried about their health care benefits through Medicaid and Medicare.  We hear from other nonprofits who, like us, are concerned about changes in funding.  We are impacted by any HUD funding reductions which could restrict access to affordable housing for people with disabilities.  We are concerned about changes to Medicaid in Virginia and how that will impact the services we provide.

At RRSI we are faced with these challenges but through our strong Board and Senior Management Team, we work towards being resilient to change.  Our Board members are a wonderful team of leaders who look to the future and the changing environment to help us plan ahead.  As part of the Senior Management Team we believe that through advocacy and working with other non-profits and political leaders we can continue our mission to provide person-centered support to individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

We are advisers to a client-lead self-advocacy group called the Four Seasons.  This group meets monthly to discuss issues of concern to individuals with intellectual disabilities, e.g., healthy relationships, good listening, and bullying, and sponsors dances and other community events.  RRSI is hosting a Walk-a-thon on June 24th to raise funds for this great program that is open to anyone with an intellectual disability and who is interested in learning about advocacy and advocating for others.

 

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

We have partnered with three universities, Virginia Commonwealth University, Longwood College and the University of Phoenix, to provide internships to students in the Social Work programs.   We have also partnered with a wonderful organization here in Richmond called Partnership for the Future.  PFF provides high-potential high school students from challenging circumstances in the metro-Richmond area with tools and experience necessary to attain a college degree.   This has been a great learning experience for the school and the students but also for our agency staff and clients.  We look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come.

 

Eric speaks to a group of young nonprofit professionals about his experience in the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program.

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA is a valuable tool to help us find additional resources, workshops and other professional development classes for our staff.  I completed the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) in 2013. That training was and continues to be a vital learning opportunity in my own leadership development.  I am currently in the Alumni class of that program, Transforming RVA, which exposes us to transformational leadership through lectures by and discussions with many local leaders who are making a remarkable difference in Richmond.

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The Help Somebody Hall of Fame

THE HELP SOMEBODY HALL OF FAME

Sandy Sisisky, Board Member, JFS and Weinstein JCC

Katharine Hunt, Youth Life Foundation Richmond

Albert Negrin, Volunteer, CKG Foundation

Patricia Taylor, CNA, Family Lifeline

Robbie Schureman, Volunteer, Virginia Dental Association Foundation

Jocelyn Marencik, Founder, Got Tec! Richmond

Keri Treadway, Teacher, Richmond Public Schools

 
 

NOMINATE SOMEONE WHO HELPS

Have you witnessed someone selflessly going out of their way to improve the life of another?  Do you seek a simple way to recognize and commend them for their benevolence?  The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express your gratitude for this person and share stories that may inspire others to act with generosityA nonprofit organization could also receive $1000 in honor of the person you nominate (see below).

 

THE INSPIRATION

The inspiration behind the Help Somebody Hall of Fame is Thomas Cannon, a retired postal worker who gave away more than $150,000 over three decades, mostly in thousand-dollar checks, showing that small gestures can make a big impact. He gave to people who demonstrated remarkable courage or generosity, or who experienced a challenging time, often reading about them in the Richmond Times Dispatch.  According to a 2005 Richmond Times Dispatch article published shortly after his death, Thomas Cannon did not want to attach his name to any efforts to carry on his philanthropy.  “What he wanted in his honor and memory, he told the Times-Dispatch, was simple: ‘Help Somebody.’”

 

NOMINATION

Nominations can recognize a nonprofit staff member, client, volunteer, neighbor.…anyone residing in Greater Richmond who you want to commend for making a positive difference.  We’ll add a new name to the Hall of Fame two times each month, and feature their story on ConnectVA.org and through social media.

Take a few minutes to share their name and story by completing a simple nomination form and answering three questions:

1)  How does this person demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame” – acting selflessly to improve the life of someone else?

2) What is the impact of their generosity?

3) Is there anything else you want to share about your nominee that makes them unique and/or a model for making a positive difference (optional)?

 

NOMINATION FORM

The Nomination form can be found here: http://bit.ly/HelpSomebodyForm

 

AWARD

Each quarter, a random drawing will be held and two $1,000 awards will be made to a nonprofit organization, in honor of a nominated outstanding community member (chosen by the nominee).  The award is made possible by an anonymous donor through The Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia.

 

QUESTIONS?

Email us at admin@connectva.org

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Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Barriers and Interventions for Ability Status

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

In a recent blog post, we shared that diversity is the presence of difference generally related to one’s identity and might include ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Inclusion is the accepting, respecting, and valuing of this diversity.  Working to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be a fundamental part of fulfilling the mission of any nonprofit. It creates an environment of involvement and connection and allows for the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives to be harnessed to create value for the organization, clients and the community.

To begin moving towards active inclusion in the workplace, nonprofit leaders must 1) examine their own lens to have a deeper understanding of their perspectives and perceptions to create a framework for approaching and addressing their own bias – whether that be conscious or unconscious.  Nonprofit leaders must 2) ask and encourage tough questions to create deeper dialogue within their organization, especially with staff who come from different backgrounds than them.  This will allow the leader to develop a clearer understanding of how experiences affect work styles, behavior, communications, and relationships and eventually form an atmosphere of greater trust.  Nonprofit leaders must 3) acknowledge institutional bias, which are the practices, policies, structures and traditions that push some people up and others down based solely on identity. It’s important leaders realize that institutional bias may exist in their own organization causing barriers towards inclusion and ultimately, equity and justice.

 

Local Barriers and Suggestions for Interventions

What are some of the barriers that organizations, leaders and staff create in local nonprofit organizations that prevent diversity and inclusion (in both the workplace itself and with clients and the community)? What are actions steps that they can take to intervene and overcome these barriers, leading to a more inclusive nonprofit environment?  The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders group analyzed several different “Identities” in relation to their own organization and below are the findings.  This week we focus on one of nine identities – Ability Status.  In later posts, we will focus in on the others – age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  

Ability Status

Individuals with disabilities are often stigmatized, encountering attitudinal and physical barriers both in work and in daily life. Although federal legislation (i.e. The Americans With Disabilities Act) protects the inherent rights of individuals with disabilities, that legislation can’t always protect them from subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice. Some disabilities are more obvious but some may be hidden, known as invisible disability. There are many types of disabilities, including those that affect a person’s vision, hearing, thinking, learning, movement, mental health, communicating etc.

During the D&I session, participants reported a lack of physical accessibility in their workplace where there are no elevators, ramps or accessible restrooms.  They also mentioned the importance of considering the building and space accessibility when choosing an office location – for both staff and clients.  If you’re wondering if your older building is ADA Compliant, read this helpful article.   The nonprofit leaders also mentioned how physically demanding their roles often are, and they imagine that this could hinder someone with restrictions.  A common thread throughout the discussion was related to funding and support from grant makers.  To make physical organization changes, funding might be required, so grant makers need to be included in this conversation as well.

The participants reiterated that hiring practices within their organizations need to be adapted to accommodate individuals of all abilities, and policies must be established to address situations that might arise.  In general, there is a need for the organization and human resources to be more aware of legislation, as well as resources and assistance available to nonprofits to move them towards being proactive in this regard.  Furthermore, nonprofit leaders must cultivate an environment where staff feel comfortable asking for what they need or for help, particularly when it comes to mental health concerns.

The Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) is a valuable resource that offers services to employers to help with recruiting, screening, training and retention efforts. Additionally, Virginia Business Leadership Network is a business-to-business (B2B) association focused on increasing workforce and marketplace diversity through the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.  They offer training and toolkits that include information like the Job Accommodation Network that provides free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues.

This summer, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) is a hosting a session on “Including People with Disabilities” during their Workplace Inclusion Network (WIN).  WIN is a convening of professionals who support or lead diversity and inclusion efforts within their organizations. These gatherings provide a unique opportunity for D&I leaders to hear from experts in the field and share best practices with one another while networking with professionals from across the region.

Stay tuned for more findings on D&I in local nonprofits in the upcoming weeks!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Megan Rollins, President and CEO, Boaz & Ruth

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Megan Rollins and I’m the President/CEO of Boaz & Ruth. I grew up in Richmond and attended Mary Baldwin College, now Mary Baldwin University. I have been with Boaz & Ruth for 10 years starting as the volunteer coordinator and have had the opportunity to learn about nonprofit management when opportunities through staff transition took place over the years.

Located along a four-block section of the Meadowbridge Road commercial corridor, Boaz & Ruth’s six social enterprises are designed to achieve both financial and social returns.

What is the need you’re trying to address? 

Our mission is to rebuild lives and communities through relationships, training, transitional jobs and economic revitalization.  We primarily serve returning citizens who are looking for an opportunity to rebuild their lives. We run a national, biblically based curriculum, Jobs for Life, to help our participants understand God has a plan for their life which includes meaningful work that provides dignity and hope for the future.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work? 

The most rewarding part of my job is the relationships with participants, graduates, staff and community members; especially participants who are putting in the work to create a different future for themselves. In addition I get to work with graduates and staff who are dedicated and hardworking who show me every day what it looks like to live by faith.

 

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

Over the past four years we have been focused on financial stability to ensure we are here to serve people and our community for another 15 years. To do this the board had to make hard decisions that have paid off. We focused on increasing income, decreasing expenses and leveraging partnerships. This meant temporarily suspending programs and a reduction in staff. What remained was a core group of graduates, staff and board members who rolled up their sleeves and went to work in a new way with a renewed commitment to serving returning citizens. We just finished a strategic plan focusing on program redesign which is exciting, providing us with new energy and reaching out to build new partnerships.

 

What’s one misconception the public has about your organization? 

I think most people thought we were on a slow march toward closing. Thankfully many people and organizations have been supportive of the change management work we have done and are now in the renewing stage of a nonprofits lifecycle.

Richard Huff, April 2017 Jobs for Life graduate

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon? 

We are working on program redesign and are building new partnerships. At one time, Boaz & Ruth was the trainer and employer for participants. We are now looking for partners to provide part time, transitional employment for participants in select industries including food service, maintenance, janitorial and construction. We are also strengthening data collection and measurements.

 

Tell us more about the partnerships and collaborations you are involved in.

Storefront for Community Design came to us in 2015 with an idea for a youth innovation center in Highland Park that specifically serves high school youth. Storefront pulled together Saving Our Youth, GroundworkRVA and ART180 to apply for the The Robins Foundation Community Innovation Grant. With the support of Virginia LISC they won the second place grant in December of 2015. This led to the 6 Points Innovations Center (6PIC for short).

With a focus on re-entry and being strategic in our partnerships Boaz & Ruth recognizes the need for multiple interruption points in the cycle of poverty, we see the 6PIC nonprofits as partners in interruption. We were excited to leverage our assets and provide a space for collaboration between four strong nonprofits. To that end, 6 Points Innovation Center’s ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for June 6th.

Storefront for Community Design, Saving Our Youth and Groundwork RVA will be headquartered along the Meadowbridge corridor providing presence and innovative programing for high school students who live in Highland Park and attend John Marshall, Community, Franklin Military and Armstrong High Schools.

 

Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC) is a newly renovated 4,000 square-foot building located at 3001 Meadowbridge Road in Highland Park that is a safe, fully- programmed teen center where neighborhood youth have access to innovative programming in the arts, urban ecology, education assistance, public media, public history, and advocacy.  As an engaging hub of community revitalization, youth activity and non-profit collaboration, 6PIC fills a gap in afterschool programming, providing resources , and education for neighborhood teens, while encouraging them to become Changemakers for their community.

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

We receive ConnectVA’s daily email communications and look for training opportunities for staff and graduates. It helps us to remain up to date on nonprofit news.

 

 

Anything else you would like to share? 

Like every other nonprofit we are always looking for new board members and partners. In addition, we have multiple spaces we make available to nonprofit and community partners for meetings.

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