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Nonprofit Trends: RVA Combats Economic Inequality & Environmental Degradation

RVA Nonprofit Trends

ConnectVA is excited to announce a new blog series, where we will showcase the local response to global and national trends in the nonprofit sector.  We aim to highlight organizations who are utilizing new and innovative ways to solve challenges through programs, initiatives and collaboration.

According to Independent Sector’s Nine Key Trends Shaping the Future of the Charitable Sector, “disruption from inequality and environmental degradation”  are two factors that will put pressure on the public sector to respond with innovative solutions and political change. Nearly half the world’s population survives on less than $2 a day.  In the City of Richmond, the poverty rate is 26.7%, the highest level in the state. Virginia is abuzz over topics such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its potential environmental impact. Despite these challenges, we found many examples of how local organizations are actively collaborating to create change!

Local Examples of  Combating Economic Inequality:

  • Shalom Farms, a regional food access and community development project of United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond (UMUMR), combats food deserts and partners with multiple organizations to achieve its mission. Their Prescription Produce Plan “equips communities with the skills, knowledge, and good food options necessary to overcome preventable illnesses associated with unhealthy diets. Prescriptions include weekly deliveries of fresh produce from the farm and educational programming around healthy eating.” They also recently participated in the Organizational Improvement Process, offered by PNE’s Organizational Solutions, to assess and strengthen their strategic direction. Executive Director Dominic Barrett said, “the relationships that we built, not only within our cohort, but with participating consultants in the region, have been extremely beneficial.”
  • CHAT (Church Hill Activities and Tutoring) was awarded the Robins Foundation Community Innovation Grant in 2014 to support its Young Entrepreneurs of Richmond Project, an initiative that provides an opportunity to Church Hill’s youth to learn about business and develop skills in woodworking, screen printing, urban farming, and much more. CHAT is currently hiring a Youth-Small Business Manager to support its growing initiatives. Proposals are being accepted through September 1st for this year’s Robins Foundation grant.

Local Examples of Combating Environmental Degradation:

  • Groundwork RVA, was formed in 2013 by a “broad group of inspired community visionaries with inspiration” provided by the City of Richmond, US National Park Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Groundwork USA network. They have collaborated with local schools to establish the Green Team – Green Team members work on hands-on beautification and outreach projects and participate in field trips co-organized by the National Parks Service.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, with offices here in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, D.C. and 15 field centers, advocates for the health of the bay’s habitats and the communities it touches. Their online petition mobilizes the public to contact local government officials to uphold the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint – a Clean Water act provision that benchmarks pollution reduction and aims to “ensure everyone shares in the responsibility for cleaning up our waterways.”

  • The James River Association, the “guardian of the James River”, is actively working to preserve the river as a fresh water source and serves to educate the public on conservation. They have spearheaded the Regional Rivers Plan, which was discussed and open to public comment yesterday evening at The Cameron Foundation in Petersburg. The plan “make[s] recommendations and identif[ies] strategies to leverage our rivers to improve quality of life and catalyze river-based economic activity.”

Does your organization work on similar issues? We’ve highlighted some resources that can help your nonprofit as it fights the good fight:

We hope these examples inspire you to look for opportunities to collaborate, innovate, and keep doing great work.


We know it’s not easy to find the time to peer through the periscope to check out the future of the sector above the ocean of things on your to-do list. That’s why we’ll be showcasing trends you should know about in a series inspired by Independent Sector’s Nine Key Trends Shaping the Future of the Charitable Sector, Keep the conversation going by sharing your thoughts and ideas in the comments, or choose one our Community Discussion Forums. 

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