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Funders Offering Local Training in Response to Medicaid Expansion

Virginia Health Care Foundation and local funders have teamed up to bring free workshops to ensure community-based providers can help people navigate enrollment in Medicaid now that the income guidelines have been expanded to include more people.  It is estimated that up to 400,000 uninsured adult Virginians will be newly eligible for Medicaid health coverage on January 1, 2019.

These trainings will be particularly relevant to:

  • Adult and family-oriented social service organizations, housing assistance organizations, churches, community action agencies, and home-visiting programs.
  • Community colleges, public housing communities, job training programs, tax assistance programs, and cooperative extension offices.
  • Health departments, hospitals, free clinics and community health centers.
  • Certain employers should also be considered:  child care providers, local employers with minimum wage employees, and organizations which employ Community Health Workers.

The “SignUpNow” trainings will teach the “ins and outs” of the eligibility requirements, application procedures, and post-enrollment information for Virginia’s Medicaid and FAMIS programs:

  • New adult coverage
  • Programs for children and pregnant women
  • Plan First (family planning)
  • Low Income Families and Children (LIFC) program

SignUpNow participants will be able to provide hands-on assistance to individuals and families who want to apply for Medicaid or FAMIS.

The trainings are being offered across the state and filling up quickly!  Locally, there are workshops being offered in greater Richmond on:

  • November 10 – a Saturday
  • November 16
  • November 20
  • December 3
  • December 18

More workshops are being added, so check the training website for updates and registration!

Thank you to Virginia Health Care Foundation and the following funders who made these workshops possible:

  • Anonymous donor advised fund at the Community Foundation
  • Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Fund
  • Bon Secours
  • Community Foundation
  • Jenkins Foundation
  • Richmond Memorial Health Foundation
  • Robins Foundation
  • VCU Health

Read more →

 

Great Nonprofit Awards Spotlight Part 2

Get to know a few of the finalists for YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Awards, coming up on 11.7.18!  People and organizations will be recognized in 3 categories:

  • Rising Star: A nonprofit professional with fewer than five years of career experience making significant contributions to the RVA nonprofit sector.
  • Great Nonprofit Boss: A nonprofit manager who has gone above and beyond to promote a great work environment for their staff.
  • Outstanding Organization: A great nonprofit organization that fosters a nurturing and empowering environment for young nonprofit professionals.

The many nominations were scored by a panel of young nonprofit professionals from the YNPN RVA Leadership Team.  The winner in each category will be announced at the November 7thevent.

Find tickets here http://bit.ly/YNPNGNAs

 

Linda Whitaker, Vice President of Administration and Human Resources, ChildSavers, Finalist in the GREAT NONPROFIT BOSS category

What keeps you in the nonprofit sector? I have worked for non-profit organizations most of my career.  I started out in Hospital Administration at Community Hospital of Roanoke Valley.  I worked for several years for a large corporation and during that time I realized how much I missed working for a non-profit.   I am very relational and enjoy helping people.  I am also very passionate about working for an organization with a mission to serve others.

“ChildSavers guides our community’s children through life’s critical moments with trauma informed mental health and child development services. That mission statement is the core of all we do.   As the Vice President of Administration and Human Resources my consumers are the employees.  Our employees are very mission driven and the work they do is difficult.   In today’s world, many children experience trauma and without the appropriate care and therapy these children can’t move beyond the trauma.  We provide trauma informed care because we want to give children the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.

I don’t work one on one with the children and their families; however, I do have the opportunity to work closely with each employee.   My goal is to ensure our employees have great benefits and compensation, but also the opportunity to achieve their career and life goals. When employees feel cared for and empowered to succeed, they are more effective in reaching the hurting children and helping them recover from the trauma they have endured. I am thankful for the role I play in fulfilling the mission of ChildSavers, and I believe we are making a difference in the lives our agency touches.

What advice would I give to other nonprofit supervisors? I would tell supervisors in the nonprofit arena to never stop growing and learning.  Always treat your employees with respect, honesty, dignity and patience.  Always be a team player and never ask an employee to do something you wouldn’t do.  Give your employees every opportunity to advance in their career and provide the support and leadership they need to fulfill their dreams. Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Always be mindful that your words and actions have a huge impact on people.   In times where discipline may be necessary, always remember to focus on the strengths of the individual and give them the necessary tools to grow and make better decisions. Redirecting employees toward more positive outcomes can strengthen community and raise productivity far more than reprimand.  I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt… “Remember nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

What was a pivotal moment in your career? My husband and I moved to Richmond in September 2002.   I enrolled in the School of Professional Studies at University of Richmond and started my first class immediately.   I attended classes four nights a week for several years while working a full time job.  I graduated in May, 2007 summa cum laude and was promoted as the Vice President of Administration and Human Resources at ChildSavers in 2011.  I have continued to grow and advance my human resource knowledge and expertise.  My responsibilities have changed tremendously during the last several years.  I love working at ChildSavers and will be forever grateful for the opportunities afforded me.

Erica Babcock, Marketing & Communications Officer, Better Housing Coalition, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community? The energy and the passion that I see in the people I’ve met, and the willingness to share knowledge and support one another.

What motivates you? My son. I think about his future and what his world will be like, and that motivates me to do everything I can to fight for what’s right and promote social good.

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made? Working for Better Housing Coalition! I work with an incredible team who has believed in me and supported my professional growth from day one.

 

Jackie Washington, Community Engagement Liaison and Center Director of the Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC), Storefront For Community Design, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community? I love the fact that I can truly be myself and there is a familial atmosphere between partners that I work closely with.

What motivates you? Richmond’s history, youth and their families are the reason that I go to work every day and try my best to hold space for their voice and values. I truly believe there is no distinction between the destiny of the families that I work with and myself in that everyone deserves and has the ability to thrive.

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made? Interning at Storefront For Community Design was hands down the best career decision I’ve made. I’m glad they chose to hire me! It’s such a great nonprofit to work for because I have the ability to dream, create and meet so many amazing people.

 

Nadine Marsh-Carter, CEO, Children’s Home Society of Virginia, Finalist in the GREAT NONPROFIT BOSS and Outstanding Organization category

What are you doing to create a great work environment for young professionals?  I am a firm believer that strong nonprofits are a cornerstone of a thriving community. So, an investment in our young professionals is really an investment in Richmond’s future.   Therefore, I work to have a great work environment for young professionals by creating opportunities for our organization’s more experienced leadership to work with less experienced managers so that we may address opportunities – and challenges- together.  I have found that when we exchange our ideas, insight and experiences, we come up with the most strategic solutions and we learn from one another. I also seek out and support ways for young professionals to participate in professional development opportunities whenever possible.

What are trends or shifts that you see in the local sector? A trend in Richmond nonprofits is the great embrace of the importance – and effectiveness – of collaborations.  This has been a critical trend that is strengthening and expanding the service capacity of organizations in every nonprofit sector – from human services to the arts. The embrace of working together to solve problems and implement more creative solutions is resulting in a new level of strategic energy in our community.  I believe that this also means that the energy and creative thinking that young professionals “bring to the table” is even more critical and valuable than ever before!

What’s your leadership style? I would describe my leadership style as supportive, open and empowering. It’s important to lead with a demonstrated confidence in the ability of my co-workers.  So   I encourage the members of my team to work independently while I serve as resource who is available whenever needed. My leadership philosophy is that we are all valued members of a team. I genuinely appreciate the perspectives that every member of our team brings to the table.  I would never ask a member of my team to tackle a task that I am not fully prepared to handle myself.  I lead by demonstrating a high work ethic, by providing guidance, and by being willing to admit when I make a mistake, because we can all learn from shared experiences. Finally, I believe in the energy that comes from loving- and when appropriate- having fun at work.   So, my leadership style includes creating a space where we can laugh together in the workplace… there are few ways to better strengthen a team’s spirit!

Blue Sky Fund, David Kunnen, Executive Director, Finalist in the Outstanding Organization category

What is the focus of your work?  Blue Sky Fund is on a mission to provide transformational opportunities for urban youth through outdoor education. Our three core programs – Explorers, Outdoor Adventure Clubs, and Outdoor Leadership Institute – provide opportunities to improve access for children in Richmond Public Schools to engaging, experiential education and enrichment opportunities that take advantage of all of the amazing outdoor assets we have in our region. If we can help increase students’ academic achievement and help develop their resilience, we are making progress towards our goals. Our region wins awards and has magazine articles written that encourage people from across the world to come here to live, work, and play, yet there are large numbers of our neighbors who don’t traditionally take advantage of all parts of our city. That’s not equitable, and we want to help change that. Only two of the elementary schools we work in are currently fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education, and we want to do our part to help RPS meet their 2023 accreditation and strategic plan goals.

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?  We serve over 2,200 children each year. We are still a relatively young organization compared to some of our peers, and our reach often surprises people. Although we have ‘Fund’ in our name, we are not wealth managers or angel investors.

See the first Finalist Spotlight.  Click here to see a full list of all finalist and nominees and make sure to get your ticket to the event coming up on 11.7.18!

Read more →

 

Great Nonprofit Awards Spotlight Part 1

Get to know a few of the finalists for YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Awards, coming up on 11.7.18!  People and organizations will be recognized in 3 categories:

  • Rising Star: A nonprofit professional with fewer than five years of career experience making significant contributions to the RVA nonprofit sector.
  • Great Nonprofit Boss: A nonprofit manager who has gone above and beyond to promote a great work environment for their staff.
  • Outstanding Organization: A great nonprofit organization that fosters a nurturing and empowering environment for young nonprofit professionals.

The many nominations were scored by a panel of young nonprofit professionals from the YNPN RVA Leadership Team.  The winner in each category will be announced at the November 7th event. (find tickets here http://bit.ly/YNPNGNAs).

Audrey Trussell, Director of City and Schools Partnership, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community?  The spunk! The RVA nonprofit community is passionate. It’s energetic. We’re daring and innovative, and we aren’t afraid of the challenges we face.

What motivates you?  The potential of what we can achieve when we believe in the power of “yet.” Every person can succeed if we work together to transform our systems to provide the right climate and conditions. These changes are happening and having a big impact – I want to see that continue!

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made?  To go for it! I’ve arrived where I am because I was brave enough to put myself out there, commit to learning for life, and take on opportunities that would challenge me…. and also because the people that surround me – my friends, family and colleagues – push me to keep growing and doing.

Erica Mann, Regional Director of Community Based Services, UMFS, Finalist in the GREAT NONPROFIT BOSS category

What keeps you in the nonprofit sector?  Honestly striving for our mission that truly impacts the community on a much broader level is something that provides endless creative challenges, while meeting a deeper spiritual need at the same time. The thing that can keep you going on some of the darker days are the brilliant, passionate, and loving people that I work with. I have spent my entire career at UMFS, and everyday my colleagues demonstrate the goodness of humanity…who doesn’t want to be surrounded by that?!

What advice would you give to other nonprofit supervisors?  Find trusted people that will disagree with you, but also love you in your strengths and flaws. Also, you can never do enough professional development around conflict and emotional intelligence—I can’t think of two topics that I deal with more as a leader and that I haven’t been more challenged by!

What was a pivotal moment in your career?  One was early on in my career, when I had a mentor suggest I move into a supervisory position—I never would have thought that possible unless someone had seen something in me and encouraged me. The other was more recently when one of our programs went through a major financial crisis that lead to job eliminations and serious morale challenges. I cannot share how much I had to grow both emotionally and business-wise, and the humility that comes with not always knowing what to do as a leader.

 

Matt Morgan, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Revitalization, project:HOMES, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community? I love working in the affordable housing niche of the Richmond nonprofit community. In many ways it is very similar to living in Richmond – there are many people you don’t know, but once you meet someone you see them everywhere. We have fun little rivalries, but at the end of the day, we all have the same mission – to create safe, affordable housing in the Richmond region.

What motivates you?  Hard work is always easy when what you’re doing is making a difference in someone’s life. We always say at project:HOMES that at the end of every day, someone’s life is better than it was the day before. Sometimes it’s as big as a low-income individual getting the keys to their first home, other times it’s a homeowner who has slept through the night for the first time after a summer without air conditioning.

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made?  My first career step following grad school was to identify an agency that I felt passionately about, not a job title or specific position. Once I found project:HOMES, I applied for the only available position, which was working with the agency’s for-profit subsidiary. My job had nothing to do with urban planning or affordable housing, but it got my foot in the door at an agency I believed in, and I was able to take on projects and help others work on things I really cared about. Within a year, another job became available and I was able to move into a position more relevant to my background. Since then I have grown within the organization and am proud to be a part of the change that project:HOMES is making in the community.

 

Lynnhaven Academy, Casey Hitchcock, Head of School, Finalist in the GREAT ORGANIZATION category

What are you doing to create a great work environment for young professionals? At Lynnhaven, we strive to create a positive, caring, and compassionate environment for our students. The same can be said for our faculty and staff as well. Ease of communication with leadership, small acts of kindness, and constructive feedback make it a place where our faculty and staff can continue to grow in their career while feeling valued within the organization.

What are trends or shifts that you see in the local sector? In general, I see organizations thrive when they find their niche and focus on small, meaningful change at the local level that builds up to a larger impact. More and more nonprofits are addressing the causes of larger systemic problems.

What’s your leadership style? I am a collaborative leader that values input at all levels. I believe that recruiting and building a strong team means utilizing all members strengths and talents while providing a clear focus. It is vital that leadership is the champion of the organization and sets high expectations at all levels.

 

Click here to see a full list of all finalist and nominees and make sure to get your ticket to the event coming up on 11.7.18!  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Jennifer Maddux, Director of Education, Richmond Performing Arts Alliance

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Jennifer Maddux and I am the Director of Education at Richmond Performing Arts Alliance.  I received my undergraduate degree in Music Education/Voice at Shenandoah Conservatory and my masters degree in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.   I spent the majority of my career serving in Henrico County Public Schools getting my start as a chorus teacher at Byrd Middle School (now Quioccasin Middle School) and then transitioning into Instructional Technology at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Most recently, I served in school leadership as an Associate Principal at both Short Pump Middle School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School. I also have a passion for music theatre. In 2003, I took part in CAP21- a six-week intensive music theater program through New York University. Through the years, I’ve gotten the opportunity to perform with various local theater companies and directed at both public and private middle schools.

Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA) is a 501 (c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide diverse local and world-class performing arts, transformative arts education experiences for students of all ages and inspirational venues—all to strengthen the cultural and economic vitality of the Greater Richmond region. Our venues serve as home to nearly a dozen resident companies, including Richmond Symphony, Richmond Ballet, Virginia Opera, Latin Ballet of Virginia, Quill Theatre and more. Each year our BrightLights Education Initiatives reach over 3,000 through programming in the schools and in our venues. Our venues include Altria Theater (located at Monroe Park, at the edge of the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University) and Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the latter which house the historic 1800-seat Carpenter Theatre, Libby S. Gottwald Playhouse (200 seats) and Rhythm Hall (135-200 seats). The Dominion Energy Center also houses the Genworth BrightLights Education Center (which includes an innovative Digital Arts Lab), and the administrative offices for RPAA, Richmond Symphony and Virginia Opera.

ABOVE: RPAA just announced the expansion of their flgship program, now called “Greater Richmond Wolf Trap”

What is the focus of your work?

Providing transformative arts education for students of all ages is at the heart of the mission of Richmond Performing Arts Alliance. Since 2009, the BrightLights Education Initiatives have aimed to serve educators, students and families from across the Richmond region, working to increase equity in access to the arts and arts in education.  Our programs take place in schools, community settings and in the venues of RPAA. We believe in the power of the arts to enrich, enliven and educate children and adults in transformative ways that lead to new understandings in learning and life, which inevitably improves the quality of living across our region.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Throughout my career as an educator, it has been my passion to find opportunities for children to engage with music, theater, and dance.  I love seeing the spark in a student’s eye when they experience pure joy through the arts. During a time where these vital programs are disappearing in schools across the nation, I am proud to be working for a non-profit that is helping to make arts-integration a vital component of the preschool curriculum. The arts shaped my childhood and directly impacted the way I learned and- ultimately- the choices I made in my career and life.  I hope that we are doing the same for the children we interact with daily.

 

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

One of the greatest challenges that we find in our work with preschool students is trying to connect with the families of the students in the schools where we have residencies.  Because we are an outside ‘provider,’ we don’t have the same direct connections with the parents and community members as the school has developed. We have tried to host family nights for the preschool classes that we support, but typically have minimal attendance because of other commitments that parents have in the evening.  One way we are working to overcome this hurdle is by coordinating our family events with school events so that we can catch families while they are already attending a school function. By showing parents the work we do with their children, we are increasing our impact and- quite often- introducing the parents to a new way to bond with their child.

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

RPAA works intentionally to support today’s artists by cultivating diverse arts experiences, to nurture tomorrow’s artists through programming and experiences that deepen their connection to the arts, and to provide spaces for the arts to thrive by supporting Richmond’s premier historical venues.  Most of the Richmond community know about the venues that we work with (Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts and Altria Theater), but many are surprised to hear that we have robust educational programming.  We provide arts-integration residencies for preschool teachers in local schools, theater classes for NextUp (an after school enrichment program in Richmond Public Schools), and operate a Digital Arts Lab where we offer courses in Video Production for high school students in the Greater Richmond area.

 

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

Through the years, our ‘flagship’ educational program has been ELLA (Early Literacy Learning through the Arts).  We recently announced that this program will be expanding through a new partnership with Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and will now operate as Greater Richmond Wolf Trap.  Using Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts’ proven model, we will pair active learning experiences for children with powerful, effective professional development for early childhood educators.  Educators will receive hands-on, customized coaching, working side by side with RPAA’s professional teaching artists to develop arts-based skills and discover how to actively engage preschool students in core subjects through singing, dancing, role-playing, and storytelling.  We will be taking these residencies to schools and preschool centers in Richmond Public Schools and Henrico County Public Schools.

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (Wolf Trap) announced in mid-October it will bring arts-based learning to preschool and kindergarten students in the greater Richmond, Virginia area, expanding its national affiliate network to 19 partners, which now includes Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA).

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

The arts-integration residencies above are a part of a new partnership with Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.  We recently had leadership from Wolf Trap’s national office as well as two master teaching artists spend a week with us training RPAA’s local teaching artists.  Through this week-long professional development, our teaching artists learned how to connect their art form with literacy curriculum in the preschool classroom and developed their skills in arts integration.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA and the Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

We are very fortunate to have the Community Foundation support of Greater Richmond Wolf Trap through grant funds.  In addition to supporting our Pre-K programs financially, they also recently provided us with a capacity building grant to help develop our new three-year strategic plan that will guide our work. Additionally, we have enjoyed our continued partnership with NextUp, over the years providing middle school students with instruction in subjects like theater, piano, and video production. Finally, we are always looking at ConnectVA for enrichment classes for our staff and interesting articles related to our work.

Anything else you would like to share?

If anyone is interested in learning more about our BrightLights Education Initiatives, please feel free to email me at jmaddux@rpaalliance.com . You can also read about them on our website: http://rpaalliance.com/education

Read more →

 

YNPN RVA Announces Great Nonprofit Awards Finalists

YNPN RVA (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA) is excited to announce the finalists for the upcoming Great Nonprofit Awards 2018 in three categories:

  • Rising Star: A nonprofit professional with fewer than five years of career experience making significant contributions to the RVA nonprofit sector.
  • Great Nonprofit Boss: A nonprofit manager who has gone above and beyond to promote a great work environment for their staff.
  • Outstanding Organization: A great nonprofit organization that fosters a nurturing and empowering environment for young nonprofit professionals.

The many nominations were scored by a panel of young nonprofit professionals from the YNPN RVA Leadership Team.  The winner in each category will be announced at the November 7th event.

FIND TICKETS TO THE EVENT HERE: http://bit.ly/YNPNGNAs. 

In no particular order, here are the finalists:

Great Nonprofit Awards Finalists:

Rising Star

  • Jackie Washington, Center Director, 6 Points Innovation Center, Storefront for Community Design
  • Erica Babcock, Marketing and Communications Officer, Better Housing Coalition
  • Matt Morgan, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Revitalization, project:HOMES
  • Audrey Trussell, Director of City and Schools Partnership, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg

Great Nonprofit Boss         

  • Linda Whitaker, VP of Administration and Human Resources, ChildSavers
  • Erica Mann, Regional Director of Community Based Services, UMFS
  • Nadine Marsh-Carter, CEO, Children’s Home Society of Virginia

Outstanding Organization

  • Blue Sky Fund
  • Children’s Home Society of Virginia
  • Lynnhaven Academy

Congrats to the above finalists and all of our nominees:

Great Nonprofit Awards Nominees
  • Jesse Anderson, Senior Campaign Manager, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
  • Alissa Aronovici, Chief Development Officer, Jewish Community Federation of Richmond
  • Art for the Journey
  • Tommy Joe Bednar, System Manager, Homeward
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond
  • Children’s Home Society of Virginia
  • Verenda Cobbs, Program Director of High Schools/ PLC’s, Communities In Schools Of Richmond
  • Lynnelle Ediger, Founder and Director, GreenSpring International Academy of Music
  • Kelly Elias, Director of Development, Communities in Schools of Chesterfield
  • GreenSpring International Academy of Music
  • Alden Gregory, Director of Development, The McShin Foundation
  • Lauren Gwaley, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, Northstar Academy
  • Casey Hitchcock, Head of School, Lynnhaven Academy
  • HomeAgain
  • Ami Kim, Vice President of Digital Operations, Community Idea Stations
  • Cindy Paullin, Deputy Executive Officer, Art for the Journey
  • Christie Smith, Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing Services of Richmond, Inc.
  • Caroline Snell, Campaign Assistant, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
  • STORY-Southside Transformation Opportunities for Residents and Youth
  • The Faison Center, Inc.
  • Brantley Tyndall, Community Engagement Manager, Sports Backers-Bike Walk RVA
  • Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
  • Randy White, Founder & CEO, Love of Learning Inc
  • Alex Wiles, Senior Commonwealth Circle Liaison, Community Idea Stations (WCVE)
  • Sheba Williams, Executive Director, Nolef Turns Inc.

Read more about our Finalists in part 1 of our “Spotlight”.

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: David Kunnen, Executive Director, Blue Sky Fund

Tell us about yourself.

My name is David Kunnen and I’m the Executive Director of Blue Sky Fund. I’m a recovering tax accountant who has worked in the nonprofit space in Richmond since 2005. I served the YMCA of Greater Richmond for 10 years, took a quick 12-month detour at The American Heart Association, and have been in my current role at Blue Sky Fund since September 2016.

ABOVE: A  Blue Sky Fund Campaign video from 2017

What is the focus of your work?

Blue Sky Fund is on a mission to provide transformational opportunities for urban youth through outdoor education. Our three core programs – Explorers, Outdoor Adventure Clubs, and Outdoor Leadership Institute – provide opportunities to improve access for children in Richmond Public Schools to engaging, experiential education and enrichment opportunities that take advantage of all of the amazing outdoor assets we have in our region. If we can help increase students’ academic achievement and help develop their resilience, we are making progress towards our goals. Our region wins awards and has magazine articles written that encourage people from across the world to come here to live, work, and play, yet there are large numbers of our neighbors who don’t traditionally take advantage of all parts of our city. That’s not equitable, and we want to help change that. Only two of the elementary schools we work in are currently fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education, and we want to do our part to help RPS meet their 2023 accreditation and strategic plan goals.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

There is so much – I could write a whole post on this. These two types of examples are always front of mind. First, it’s rewarding to see a child totally engaged in kinesthetic learning during a Blue Sky trip when sitting at their desk in the classroom and listening is a challenge for them. We regularly hear from classroom teachers that students who struggle in the traditional school setting are thriving during our field investigations. Second, our activities constantly provide new experiences for the students we serve. We see the fruits of our work when we go rock climbing and a middle school student who stared up at wall with a look on their face that is best interpreted as “you want me to do what?!” on day 1 ends up overcoming their fears and hesitations to not only become extremely proficient at the activity, but also comfortable teaching their peers.

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

We love being outside and believe whole-heartedly in the power of nature and the outdoors as a catalyst for learning and growth. Unfortunately, it’s not always 75 degrees and sunny when we venture out. When the students’ classroom teachers complain about having to go outside, or that the weather isn’t good, or that they don’t like bugs, the children pick up on those sentiments and run with them. We have a 5-Finger Agreement that we start each program day with, and encouragement is one of the five tenets of that agreement. Our incredible staff will make sure to demonstrate for everyone who is a part of our program – children and adults alike – that we will overcome any negativity about getting outside so that we maximize our learning opportunities. Fundraising is also ultra-competitive in Richmond…but everyone reading this already knows that 🙂

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

We serve over 2,200 children each year. We are still a relatively young organization compared to some of our peers, and our reach often surprises people. Although we have ‘Fund’ in our name, we are not wealth managers or angel investors.

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

We are planning to double the size of our Outdoor Leadership Institute (OLI) when we recruit our next class of participants. Each year, rising 9th-12th graders are nominated to participate in this year-long program that focuses on leadership, unity, and service. We create 12-person crews who share a summer experience that includes a backpacking trip to Grayson County, a year’s worth of service projects, and the development of their own individual leadership portfolios. Until now, we have taken two crews out each year, and we will have four(!) beginning in the summer of 2019. After graduation, OLI participants come back each summer for an alumni experience. The last two years, this group has gone to Colorado and ridden their bikes 334 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC.

 

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

Without collaborations and partnerships, our impact would be blunted. We are so grateful for our relationship with Richmond Public Schools. NextUp has created a great system for out of school time programming, and we are excited to see how working with them continues to develop. The James River Park System is always a gracious host, and keeps their parks safe and fun. The VCU Rice Rivers Center is a unique partner, since we take kids from all three of our programs there during the year. Over 35 locations throughout the region and state support our activities as host sites – to say we are fortunate to have their support is an understatement.

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA and the Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

Our nonprofit community is very fortunate to have the resources that ConnectVA and the Community Foundation provide. Blue Sky tries to take full advantage! Our staff regularly checks and engages in the professional development opportunities offered in the Learning Center, we’ve supported teammates through ENLP, we receive many qualified and mission-minded candidates from the Job Finder, and we have even gotten rid of some old office furniture on the Item Exchange! The Community Foundation staff are always supportive and willing to answer questions about program focus and impact, and we are incredibly blessed to be the frequent recipient of Community Impact grants.

Anything else you would like to share?

On Saturday, October 27 we are hosting our 7th Annual Hike for Kids event. Participants can choose to hike 3, 8 or 14 miles through the James River Park System in downtown Richmond. The 3-mile option is very family-friendly. After hiking, enjoy food, beer, and live music at our host site (thanks Virginia War Memorial!) overlooking the river. Proceeds from the event will provide more opportunities for the children from our city’s most vulnerable communities to experience the outdoors in a meaningful way. For more information and to register, click here: https://secure.qgiv.com/event/936972/.

Read more →

 

Emerging Nonprofit Leaders 2018-2019 Announced

The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond is excited to announce the selected participants for the 2018-2019 cohort of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders!

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program is a dynamic nine-month experience for the next generation of nonprofit leaders in the metro Richmond area. In this engaging program, participants can 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.

Now in its twelfth year of operation, the program has demonstrated measurable results, building a cadre of talented leaders for the future of the Greater Richmond community.

Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Cohort 11 at their graduation ceremony in June.

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

  • Experience team building through rigorous and challenging activities in an outdoor setting
  • Develop deep relationships with other nonprofit leaders
  • Participate in a live nonprofit case study
  • Increase awareness of their leadership through a thorough assessment process, including 360-degree feedback and the Birkman Method Assessment
  • Benefit from individual leadership coaching, provided by professionals with experience in leadership development and nonprofit management
  • Network between sessions by engaging in dialogue with the other participants and instructors
  • Interact with five local exemplary Executives-in-Residence in a forum where they share their experiences and perspectives
  • Participate in Small Peer Practice groups led by ENLP Alumni
  • Have access to a supportive online cohort-based e-learning platform.

Selection Process

Nonprofit applicants were selected based on their potential to make a significant future contribution to the nonprofit community through assuming higher and increased levels of leadership, show substantive history of involvement in the nonprofit sector through employment, volunteerism, or board service and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional development, continuing education, and lifelong learning.

In August, a committee made up of ENLP Alumni reviewed applications to ensure that the 12th cohort met above criteria and that the group would be diverse and comprehensive representation of the local nonprofit sector.

 

 

The 2018-2019 Emerging Nonprofit Leader Participants

  • Analise Adams, Program Director, Shalom Farms
  • Kate Ayers, Executive Director, Re-Establish Richmond
  • Raven Bates, Communications Manager & Office Coordinator, Virginia Community Development Corporation
  • Caroline Browell, Marketing & Communications Manager, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia
  • Nausha Brown-Chavez, Program Manager, The READ Center
  • Sara Buckheit, Post Adoption Program Manager, Children’s Home Society of Virginia
  • Shannon Castleman, Executive Director, Oakwood Arts
  • Yong Chae, Finance Director, Senior Connections
  • Terry Ebright, Food Pantry Manager & Communications Associate, GoochlandCares
  • Catherine Estevez, Assistant Director, Communities in Schools VA
  • Diana Fales, Training Manager/Yardi Specialist, Better Housing Coalition
  • Sakina Jackson, Deputy Director, Child Care Aware of Virginia
  • Robert Larkin, Training Coordinator, Richmond Residential Services, Inc.
  • Erin Lingo, Agency Relations Manager, Feed More
  • Jessica Ramirez, Director of Advocacy & Public Relations, Rx Partnership
  • Tiffany Thomas, Director of Programs, Partnership for the Future
  • Lisa Thompson, Child Development Services Program Manager, ChildSavers
  • Aly Truesdale, Director of Development, Special Olympics Virginia
  • Sherman Urquhart, YouthBuild Program Director, Pathways
  • Stephen Vicoli, Transition Coordinator, The Healing Place, CARITAS
  • Pilar Waters, Program Director, U.S. Referrals, World Pediatric Project
  • Erin Wischer, Operations Manager, Community Foundation for a greater Richmond
  • Alle Witt, Grants Manager & Development Officer, CrossOver Healthcare Ministry
  • Mary Beth Yates, Development Manager, Children’s Museum of Richmond

Congratulations to all who were selected to be a part of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders cohort!

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Help Somebody Hall of Fame: Nancy Rossner, Community Tax Law Project

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes good people doing good work in our RVA community.  We encourage our readers to nominate nonprofit staff, volunteers, board members and community members.  This month, we’re recognizing Nancy Rossner – a staff attorney at the Community Tax Law Project (CTLP).

The CTLP provides free legal help to Virginia’s low wage families and individuals experiencing economic harm because of a tax problem. Their services directly strengthen the financial stability of working families and ensure that all Virginians receive fair and equal treatment in tax disputes.  Nancy’s colleague nominated her for this recognition (but asked to be anonymous) and said, “I am constantly amazed by Nancy’s dedication to her work assisting our clients with their complicated tax issues.  Not only does she handle a very high level of cases at all times, but she does so with such passion, conviction, and an extremely high level of professionalism.

Read more about Nancy’s work and how she’s bettering our community, below.

How does Nancy demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?

Nancy Rossner has been working tirelessly and diligently as a staff attorney at the Community Tax Law Project for over six years. Nancy helps over 200 Virginians annually by providing free legal representation to assist these persons with their tax legal problems. Whether the issue is before the IRS or the Virginia Department of Taxation, Nancy skillfully advocates for each taxpayer until their issue is resolved. Nancy treats all clients with the same zealousness whether their issue is small or involves large denominations.

All her clients are low-income and would not have access to legal representation without Nancy and the Community Tax Law Project. In addition to full legal representation, Nancy also opens her knowledge of the federal and state tax systems to provide brief tax advice to several hundred more Virginians who have tax questions. These questions can range from a simple question such as whether a person has to file their taxes but can also involve more complex questions such as what information a taxpayer includes in their petition to the U.S. Tax Court.

Once again, Nancy applies her expertise and professionalism to each of these brief encounters providing legal tax advice not available elsewhere without a fee. Finally, Nancy conducts a large portion of the educational outreach conducted by the Community Tax Law Project. She provides tax literacy classes to a variety of job readiness and workforce reentry programs. Furthermore, Nancy has presented on low-income taxpayer issues at several regional and national conferences in her field. Always the consummate professional, Nancy addresses these speaking opportunities as another avenue to make the lives of low-income taxpayers better through education on the tax system.

Nancy with CTLP interns doing outreach in the community.

What’s the impact of Nancy’s generosity?                 

Nancy’s impact is difficult to describe without providing examples, as all her cases have their own unique set of facts. One recent case that comes to mind immediately is a case involving a taxpayer named Janine (name changed to protect the client’s identity). Janine was an insurance agent who had recently received a letter from the IRS stating that she owed them a substantial amount of money, which she could not afford. Janine had been working with other members of her family who had become abusive to her, physically, emotionally, and financially. Janine was able to remove herself from the physical and direct emotional danger of her family, but the financial abuse continued to follow her. First, some of the tax issues Janine was facing were because her family members were working under her professional license. Any profits Janine’s family members were earning using her license were being attributed by the IRS to Janine. Once Nancy became involved, Nancy was able to help Janine stop her family from their fraudulent use of her professional license. This required a state agency and their investigative branch to correct the prior fraudulent activity. Nancy also worked within the IRS system to then correct Janine’s income to exclude the amounts fraudulently attributed to Janine by her own family members.

This whole process took many months to accomplish, but Nancy was by Janine’s side through the entire journey. What makes this story even more special is that Janine is a single mother and English is not her native language. I wish I could say that this is the highlight of Nancy’s career as a public service attorney. However, Janine’s case is one of thousands of similar cases that Nancy has worked on over the last six years. The facts of each case are different, but there is a common thread of a person’s life falling to pieces. Sometimes, the turmoil is related to abuse such as was the case with Janine. Other times, homelessness is an immediate concern, when the person has not addressed their tax problems and wages are about to be garnished. Many people do not envision tax problems causing someone’s life to completely derail. However, when you add a tax problem to a life riddled with abuse, illiteracy, mental abuse, substance abuse, and a precarious financial situation, you have the recipe for a life about to be shattered. For literally thousands of low-income taxpayers, Nancy has been there to fix the tax component of their life struggles, providing her clients with at least one less life struggle to deal with.

In addition to her professional attributes, Nancy is also a dedicated mother to her beautiful young daughter and a loving wife to her husband. She is also a proud alumna of the University of Richmond School of Law and continues to mentor several student interns from her law school at the Community Tax Law Project.

Nancy presenting at a national conference for tax professionals.

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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YNPN RVA Event Recap: Nonprofits@Noon with Elizabeth Bass

Leadership. Service. Community. A commitment to those three themes has motivated Elizabeth Bass, Executive Director at Virginia Mentoring Partnership, throughout her nonprofit career and continues to drive her today. Elizabeth shared the challenges and opportunities she has experienced in her professional and personal life, along with some valuable advice, to a group of young nonprofit professionals at the Virginia Holocaust Museum on Sept. 12, as a part of a series called “Nonprofits@Noon.”

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