According to Independent Sector’s Nine Key Trends Shaping the Future of the Charitable Sector “addressing social challenges will require cross-sector and cross-cultural collaboration to be able to scale solutions effectively.” Enter The Capital Region Collaborative (CRC) – “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.” It is a joint initiative between the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Richmond Regional Planning District Commission. The Capital Region includes nine jurisdictions – Richmond, Chesterfield, Hanover, Ashland, Henrico, Powhatan, Goochland, New Kent, and Charles City. Read on as we highlight some of the progress made by this initiative:
Through a series of focus groups, community conversations, and surveys, the CRC identified eight key priorities, which was produced in the CRC – Building the Framework report. Work groups were then formed to address each priority, and these groups produced individual reports presenting their research and recommendations for next steps. The priority areas are:
- Social Stability – ensuring adequate quality housing at all income levels, and providing prevention-focused systems of services
- Education – improving educational attainment and reducing achievement gaps
- Job Creation – growing existing businesses, attracting and accelerating start-ups, and bringing jobs to the area
- Workforce Preparation – reducing skill gaps in the workforce and aligning workforce preparation and economic development
- Healthy Community – increasing access to and knowledge of physical activity, nutrition, health services, and health advocacy
- Coordinated Transportation – to have a funded, region-wide system for transportation that is visible, understandable, multi-modal, inclusive and dependable
- James River – making the James River a centerpiece for entertainment, recreation and commerce
- Quality Place – building the reputation of the region as a quality place to live and developing regional pride
A snapshot of successes:
- From the Healthy Community work group arose The RVA Food Collaborative (RVAFC), which brings together individuals from organizations and businesses working to improve the region’s food system. In 2015, The RVAFC secured a $100K grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation for Shalom Farms to establish a mobile farmers market, which will put fresh produce in communities experiencing food deserts.
- The Quality Place work group revamped the I Am Tourism Ambassador Program, which combines a workshop with a guided bus tour and perks to create tourism ambassadors from the ground up. This free program is over capacity for its February event and the next session is scheduled for April 26th.
- One of the recommendations made by the CRC Social Stability work group was to work with local housing groups to produce research on existing housing availability and impediments to quality housing. Thus, the Housing the Richmond Region: Needs, Impediments, and Strategies report was born. The report was commissioned by the Partnership for Housing Affordability, and involved collaboration with the CRC, Regional Housing Alliance, the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, and the VCU Center for Urban and Regional Analysis.
- An outcome from the James River work group was that the James River Association secured funding from Altria and local foundations to spearhead a coordinated regional James River plan. Bill Street, CEO of the James River Association, said: “We are thrilled to work with the business community and local governments to help the region become more connected to its rivers and to realize even more benefits from these wonderful natural assets […] It is critical that we have a strong plan that will guide the use of the river while also making sure we protect what makes the rivers so special.” The plan is expected to be complete by the end of March.
What’s next for these priorities? The CRC’s organizing council is assembling Action Teams which will take on the task of seeing the recommendations through to completion. They are also launching RVA Snapshot – which provides a benchmark framework for comparing the Richmond region to peer cities and to measure progress. “There are a few excellent reports out there covering these key priorities individually, but our goal is to provide a comprehensive report and accountability tool that brings these regional priorities together in one information source,” said Ashley Hall, Manager of The Capital Region Collaborative.
You can learn more about RVA Snapshot and the CRC at their upcoming Community Meeting, on Friday, February 26th.