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Local Millennial Engagement Trends & RVA Gives a Darn!

It’s not a new topic – Millennials are an incredibly passionate generation with many avenues and access points to get involved with causes they care about, and many often do. Millennials regard their resources, such as time, networks and money, as having equal values, and often go beyond monetary donations as a way to become personally invested in a cause.  

According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, 70% of Millennials volunteered between 1 and 10 hours during 2014 and 84% of Millennial employees surveyed, made a charitable donation.  According to this Forbes article, if you want to get Millennials involved in your cause with time and money, you need to create something they can experience.

How does this trend affect our local social sector?

A few ways (and we’re only highlighting a handful now).

  • There is an increasing belief among Young Professionals (YP’s) that they don’t have to work for a nonprofit to do good – they are open to working for businesses that emphasize community engagement and social impact (read our posts on New Generations of Leadership and on Local B Corps) and offer paid time off to volunteer, company-wide volunteer days and incentives like company donation matching.
  • We’ve seen a huge boom in local organizations creating structured ways for YP’s to engage in their cause through Junior Boards and YP Councils, where they help fundraise, plan events, help spread the word through social media campaigns and offer talent in forms of pro bono services. A few local organizations are the Young Women’s Leader Alliance (YWCA), FLiP (Family Lifeline), Better Housing Coalition Junior Board, VHBG Young Professionals (Virginia Home for Boys and Girls) and Fit4Kids Young Professional Board.
  • Even with Young Professionals and Millennials wanting to “do good” and organizations figuring out structured ways to keep them involved and engaged in meaningful ways, there still seems to be a disconnect from both sides. Ashley Hall, (who will be featured later on in this post) captured it best when asked about local trends in YP engagement saying, “It seems like you see the same familiar faces. Once you get engaged in one thing it leads to another, and another, and then 10 more! That’s awesome, but how do we get every YP in our community to give a darn?”

This trend/issue led to a group of young leaders coming together to discuss ways in which RVA could make sure all local YP’s know the avenues and access points to get involved with causes they care about.

RVA Gives a Darn!

The emerging leaders of HYPE, United Way Young Leaders, HandsOn Greater Richmond, Capital Region Collaborative, Peter Paul Development Center, and YWCA all give a darn about RVA and came together to host and organize a happy hour to surface the causes that young people care about and crowd source the ways they can take action. They are encouraging all emerging leaders in our community to come and share what they give a darn about and what they are doing to make an impact at RVA Gives a Darna free networking happy hour with local non-profit leaders in attendance on September 8th from 5pm to 7pm at Hardywood.

We caught up with the organizers of the event to learn more:

Liz Doerr, Director of Platform, NRV


Why should YP’s come out to this event? People that are excited about making Richmond a better place and learning about how to get involved in a variety of community organizations.

What should YP’s expect from this event?  Our mission is simple, to talk about why we love the city and inspire folks can get involved.

What do you think YP’s give a darn about in RVA? The city and its quality of life, outdoor activities, restaurant scene and overall community feel.

What’s a trend you’ve noticed in YP engagement in RVA? There is a lot of positive momentum in the city from a record number of YP candidates running for local office to the increasing number of young people getting involved in all sorts of causes.

What do you give a darn about?  Making a positive impact in my community through local politics.

Rupa Murthy, Chief Development Officer, YWCA Richmond


Why should YP’s come out to this event?  YP’s should come out to take part in the best parts of our City – the organizations that fuel the people who live, work and play in RVA.

What should YP’s expect from this event?  They should expect to learn and engage in the parts of our City that are most important to them, the organizations that fuel their life, work and play in RVA.

What do you think YP’s give a darn about in RVA?  Themselves. 🙂 Improving a community so they can live their best lives.

What’s a trend you’ve noticed in YP engagement in RVA?  A trend I’ve noticed is raising dialogue and awareness about the injustices that hold our city hostage and creating an energy/movement that is bigger than themselves to right the injustices that exist in RVA – poverty, pollution, inequality and access.

What do you give a darn about?  All of the above.   My top priority is creating equity in education to break the cycle of poverty and violence that plagues our City.   My other top priority is raising my children in a city that I love.

Emily Watkins, Director of Strategic Engagement, United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg


Why should YP’s come out to this event? You can connect with other people who give a darn about RVA to share what you care about and what you are doing to make an impact. If you are looking to get involved with your community, you have a network of people to connect with and learn from.

What should YP’s expect from this event? They should expect to meet some new people who give a darn about RVA. There are no speeches, no formal programs. We will be surfacing the causes that we care about and crowdsourcing ways we can take action on message boards, photos and social media.

What do you think YP’s give a darn about in RVA? We hope this event will surface some of those things, so look for posts with #RVAGivesaDarn to find out! My experience has shown that people want to feel part of the community. We have heard from people do that by volunteering, supporting local businesses, joining a group like United Way Young Leaders or HYPE, or playing in a sports league. But there is not one answer, so I am hoping to learn from my peers as well at this event.

What’s a trend you’ve noticed in YP engagement in RVA? In the year I have been working with United Way Young Leaders, the one trend that stands out to me is that “millennials” are more different than we are the same. We all have such different passions, life experiences and sensibilities. Accordingly, we have carved out new and different paths to getting engaged and making a positive impact in their community. I think there also some people who just moved here or at a transition point in their life and are just starting that process of creating that path for themselves. So we wanted to invite and convene young people who care, a little or a lot, to grab a beer together and learn from each other.

What do you give a darn about? I give a darn about RVA. I joined the United Way movement because I love Richmond and our region and I want to part of the solutions to build a better life for all in our community.


Damon Jiggetts, Executive Director, Peter Paul Development Center


Why should YP’s come out to this event?  YP’s should come out to support a local business and support causes that they and other YP’s care about.

What should YP’s expect from this event?  You should expect good conversation, good beer and good ways to connect to things you give a darn about.

What do you think YP’s give a darn about in RVA?  We know you care about the RVA brand, whatever that is.  We know you want to help define it.

What do you give a darn about?  I give a darn about supporting local businesses, local leaders and local creations, but most importantly, our youth.


Ashley Hall, Manager, The Capital Region Collaborative


Why should YP’s come out to this event?  It’s a great chance to meet other passionate YPs and learn about ways to connect deeper to the community. Whether you give a darn by volunteering, supporting local entrepreneurs, donating to nonprofits, or advocating for issues you care about… just give a darn!

 What’s a trend you’ve noticed in YP engagement in RVA?   It seems like you see the same familiar faces. Once you get engaged in one thing it leads to another, and another, and then 10 more! That’s awesome, but how do we get every YP in our community to give a darn? To learn more about the issues in our community, spread the word, and be part of the solutions. That’s the spark we hope to ignite at this event.

What do you give a darn about?  I give a darn about creating an inclusive community where everyone feels a part of making RVA great! As young leaders, we have to get involved and ensure the future we want for our community.


Austin Kitchen, Leadership Engagement Manager, ChamberRVA


Why should YP’s come out to this event? It will build connections amongst YPs wanting to make a difference and help bring awareness around different non-profit happenings.

What should YP’s expect from this event? Networking, beer and a chance to discuss important issues in RVA.

What do you think YP’s give a darn about in RVA? Revitalization in local neighborhoods, bettering our schools and bringing together the community to make Richmond a better place to live, work and play.

What’s a trend you’ve noticed in YP engagement in RVA? More collaboration.

What do you give a darn about?  Bettering schools in Richmond through mentoring programs like BBBS.

Make sure to RSVP for RVA Gives A Darn! on September 8th from 5pm to 7pm at Hardywood!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Laura Leporati, AMP! Metro Richmond

Laura Leporati AMP! Metro Richmond

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Laura Leporati, and I have served as the Program Coordinator for AMP! Metro Richmond over the last two years.  I have a background in psychology and rehabilitation counseling.  After taking some time off after having children, I entered the world of nonprofits and have really enjoyed working with volunteers and learning about nonprofit development.


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

AMP! Metro Richmond is a school-based mentoring program that operates at Henderson Middle School in Richmond’s Northside neighborhood.  AMP!’s mission is to connect students and mentors to amplify perspectives on what can be. Our goal is to create self-confidence, stimulate learning, and encourage career discovery for middle school youths in the Richmond Region.

 What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I love seeing the relationships develop between the students and mentors.  They are usually a little unsure and timid at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year, they are very eager to see each other and to share what their week has been like.  The most rewarding thing for me is seeing the smiles on the kids (and mentors) faces when they walk into the mentoring room on Tuesdays and greet each other.

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

Every year it is challenging to find the amount of quality and committed mentors that we need for the school year.  We have tried to overcome this by completing the Quality Based Membership process through Virginia Mentoring Partnership.  We’ve learned that by doing a thorough application and vetting process, that we do find the quality folks that we are looking for.

We also strive to create partnerships with businesses, corporations and other organizations in the Richmond area.  Mentors in the past have come from Genworth Financial, KPMG, First Market Bank, Bank of America,Chamber RVA, University of Richmond, VCU, VUU, small businesses, nonprofits, and State agencies.

ur bonner scholars amp metro

UofR Bonner Center for Student Engagement Students Mentors with their Mentees

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

AMP! is celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year!  We began in 2006 as a project through Leadership Metro Richmond and continue to be a strong program 10 years later.  We are celebrating on Tuesday, 8/30 from 5:30-7:30 and anyone is welcome to come help us celebrate!  Also, with the new school year upon us, we are looking forward to a new mentoring year.

amp mentor board games cropped

Middle School students at AMP! Metro Richmond play board games with their mentors.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

I actually found this position through the ConnectVA Job Finder!  We use the ConnectVA website to advertise events, search for relevant workshops and webinars, to post items needed, and to look for grant opportunities.

Anything else you would like to share?

We are now recruiting new mentors for the 2016/17 school year.  Mentoring always takes place on Tuesdays at lunchtime.  We especially need male mentors!  If interested, please fill out our application and someone will be in touch with you shortly.  If anyone would like to join our 10-year celebration on 8/30, please RSVP here.


Know someone who should be a ConnectVA Spotlight?  Email us at admin@connectva.org for more information!

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Collaboration at Work: Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

Collaborations at Work GFCFS (2)

Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS) provides medical and social services to families in the Goochland community, including dental servicesGED preparation courses, a community thrift store, and more.  GFCFS depends on support and collaboration from their many partners in order to efficiently and effectively address the needs of the Goochland community.


Executive Director Sally Graham pictured with the Page Auto Team who donated the new GFCFS cargo van for transporting medical equipment, picking up food donations, collecting donations for the Clothes Clothes, & more!

One great example of how GFCFS collaborates to have a greater impact on the community is through their food pantry. The food pantry, which is open seven days a week and relies on a volunteer-base of over 125 people, serves up to 150 households per week. Last year alone, the food pantry distributed over 200,000 pounds of food to individuals in the Goochland community!


In 2015, 822 individuals, including 343 children, found clothing at the Clothes Closet!

To achieve these successes, the GFCFS food pantry relies on strong collaboration with their many community partners. In addition to partnering with FeedMore and local grocers to ensure that the pantry is reliably stocked each week, the food pantry has also fostered some additional community partnerships with Capital One and Goochland Public Schools to supplement the food pantry’s inventory in some creative and collaborative ways. Capital One donates leftovers from the food services provided at their Goochland campus to the GFCFS food pantry each week, while Goochland Public Schools have set up designated donation areas in their school cafeterias where kids can choose to donate their unopened, unconsumed food items.

2015 Stats Overview Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

Innovative collaborations like these allow community organizations like GFCFS to stretch their resources further and better serve their community.


The above post was originally featured by the Capital Region Collaborative – a collaborative effort between government, business, and the community to identify and implement regional priorities that will enhance the quality of life in the Richmond Region.

If you have a collaborative story to tell, contact CRC@richmondregional.org and subscribe to their e-newsletter!

Read more about the Capital Region Collaborative and their recent RVA Indicators Report and check out our ConnectVA Community Vital Signs for the latest data and research on the health of Virginia!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Juanita Epps, Pathways-VA, Inc.

Juanita Epps Pathways (2)

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Juanita Epps and I serve as the Chief Executive Officer for Pathways-VA, Inc.  I am a historian who entered the non-profit sector after teaching and working with youth through group homes and in home counseling.

What is the focus of your work?

My work focuses on providing individuals with opportunities to address their barriers in ways that allow them to be competitive in the job market and/or live productive lives.  These individuals are high school drop-outs, at or below the poverty level, uninsured or underinsured, and having various other barriers to success

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The most rewarding thing about my work is the opportunity to see individuals break down the barriers that have traditionally held them back.  Seeing individuals succeed beyond their own expectations and in some cases society.

pathways youth build day 2016

Youth Build Day 2016

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

The greatest challenge is sometimes getting individuals to believe that they can succeed.  In my work, I have used my own life story to motivate others to succeed.  Additionally, I have continuously encouraged individuals to help them reach small goals so that they could experience small wins that ultimately open doors for them to bigger successes.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

My organization completed its 20th year anniversary in 2015.  So, what excites me is the opportunity to lead the organization into its next 20 years in our work towards leveling the playing field towards success for individuals and a communities we serve.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA  provides us a resource to get our message out to other organizations and entities who would be interested in supporting our work.

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Nonprofit Trends: B Corps Spotlight on Impact Makers

Over the past several weeks we have been sharing information about the rise of the B Corps movement. As more and more companies make community engagement a priority and add corporate responsibility pages to their websites, and as “benefit corporations” continue to rise, the definition of the social sector is becoming increasingly broad. In our final post on local B Corps, we will highlight Impact Makers - a management and technology consulting company that provides services in Management and IT Consulting, Program and Project Management, Digital Services, Governance, Risk and Compliance, and Healthcare Solutions.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Monica Cannon, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

Tell us about yourself. My name is Monica Cannon, Foster Parent Engagement Specialist with Lutheran Family Services of Virginia. I have had a strong desire to advocate on behalf of foster youth when I became a volunteer CASA- Court Appointed Special Advocate, for foster youth almost 20 years ago. And I possess over 15 years of experience in corporate sales, marketing and human resources. I made a full-time transition into social services work a few years ago as a Foster Parent in a therapeutic residential program. I enjoy this work, as Lutheran Family Services is such a mission-driven organization that is helping people live abundant lives.

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B Corps Spotlight: Virginia Community Capital

As we continue our blog series on local B Corps we wanted to highlight Virginia Community Capital (VCC) - a nonprofit, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and banking entity that is celebrating 10 years of impact in Virginia this year. Their three core lines of business are Lending, Savings and Advisory Services; being a community bank, however, they go above and beyond these services to provide expertise to a wide range of constituents including localities, developers, community development agencies, nonprofits, and business owners. In April 2016, VCC converted its for-profit bank - Community Capital Bank of Virginia - to a certified benefit corporation, making it the first B Corp regulated bank in the US. We spoke with Leah Fremouw, VCC Community Programs Manager, to learn more about VCC’s mission, impact and their decision to become a B Corps.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Patricia West, Northstar Academy

Tell us about you. My name is Patricia West, Head of School, Northstar Academy. I hold a BS from the University of Missouri Elementary Education & Special Education, I have an MED from UVA Special Education with a focus in Emotional Disabilities, and a Doctorate from VA TECH in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. I have worked in the field of special education for over 40 years in the public school setting and the private school setting.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Heather Turbyne-Pollard, Health Brigade

Tell us about yourself. My name is Heather Turbyne-Pollard and I am proud to serve as Health Brigade’s Director of Resources & Philanthropy. Health Brigade is formerly known as Fan Free Clinic. I started working here in October 2015. I love the organization’s mission to provide quality health services, especially to those least served, in a compassionate and non-judgmental environment. I came here from a 15 year career at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg where I learned a good deal about our local nonprofit community and the critical role nonprofits play in strengthening the fabric of our region’s safety net system in a whole host of ways. Health Brigade is one of those nonprofits I have always admired for its rich history on confronting social justice issues that affect individual and public health head on.

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