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Robins Foundation Community Innovation Grant Top 10 Finalists

In late January, the Robins Foundation announced the top 10 nonprofit organizations for their 2019 Lora M. and E. Claiborne Robins, Sr. Community Innovation Grant (CIG). The CIG, named for Robins Foundation’s founders, seeds one $500,000 proposal that celebrates the imaginative, cooperative spirit of Greater Richmond.  The award is designed to launch projects that offer better solutions to complex issues in emerging neighborhoods, and show innovation in programs, process, partnership and/or policy.

Below are more details about the projects that are being considered for the CIG.

Building Successful Outcomes for Maternal and Child Health

Urban Baby Beginnings seeks to expand the services offered by Bon Secours’ Care-A-Van to include high-quality maternal health services, which will provide access to physicians, midwives, social workers, nurses, and community agents who specialize in maternal and postpartum health. Perinatal health workers, lactation consultants, education classes, support groups, and home visiting programs will address the barriers that cause isolation among expectant and postpartum families. This work includes establishing a community garden to focus on prenatal and postpartum health and nutritional awareness. Additionally, the community will have access to a workforce innovation program; training mothers who have graduated in the program as Perinatal Health Workers, Certified Lactation Consultants, and Community Health Promoters. Additionally, this initiative will facilitate a workforce innovation program which will train mothers as Perinatal Health Workers, Certified Lactation Consultants, and Community Health Promoters.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.


Youth Housing Stability Project

Commonwealth Catholic Charities, in partnership with Advocates for Richmond Youth and VCU School of Social Work, plans to create the Youth Housing Stability Coalition Hub. This physical and virtual hub will meet the immediate needs of youth experiencing housing instability; support the implementation of a coordinated, community-wide housing plan; and conduct research, training, and technical assistance. Through this effort, these partners are working to reduce the amount of time that young people experience housing instability. Additionally, the project will support an increase in community knowledge about the needs and experiences of youth facing this issue, along with consistent evaluation strategies among stakeholders serving this population. In the long term, this strategy will result in the development of best practices for serving youth experiencing housing instability and additional policy change.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.


GFAC TECH/Entrepreneurship Immersion Lab

The Girls For A Change TECH/Entrepreneurship Immersion Lab focuses on the economic and educational empowerment of Black girls and other girls of color in the Richmond area. Their goal is to establish a dedicated space for girls that offers tech training and industry-recognized certifications, positioning these students to engage with a variety of work opportunities including those in co-working spaces, home employment and virtual employment. This project will directly serve 40 girls via the Immersion Lab and the expansion of the 9th/10th grade tiers of the Girl Ambassador program. After the Immersion Lab operations settle into routine, the girls plan to offer tutoring and special events at the Lab, impacting at least another 200 young people.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.


Center for Building and Construction Trades

Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia will renovate a 6,200-square-foot building, adjacent to their Richmond Support Center on Midlothian Turnpike, into a state-of-the-art Center for Building and Construction Trades. The goal of the Trades Center/C3 initiative is to strengthen, expand and sustain C3’s program partnerships to improve education-to-employment outcomes for students from emerging populations enrolled in a range of high-quality credentialing programs in industries with career advancement opportunities. This will help ensure that job seekers enter career pathways that lead to economic stability while addressing the skills gap in the local construction industry.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.


Eviction Diversion Program

Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME) and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society (CVLAS) have a long history and multi-faceted consumer advocacy approach to serving low-income and minority populations. Currently, there are no eviction diversion programs in the state of Virginia and only three known programs across the United States. This proposed program is geared toward families and individuals who can afford their rent but fell behind after an unexpected financial emergency, such as a car crash or medical problem. By establishing a settlement with the landlord through this program, tenants are spared a negative judgment on their court records which could make it more difficult to find apartments in the future. Both organizations offer educational services to low-income citizens on landlord-tenant conflicts, housing discrimination, public housing, subsidized housing, and affordable housing.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.

Equity in Health Leadership Institute

Partnerships between the Institute for Public Health Innovation and local city and county governments have led to the Equity and Health in All Policies Leadership Institute (EHiAP) project, which seeks to harness the influence that local governments have in shaping social determinants of health. Research has identified seven strategies for implementing health in all policies: developing and structuring cross-sector relationships; incorporating health (and equity) into the decision-making process; enhancing workforce capacity; integrating research, evaluation, and data systems; synchronizing communications and messages; implementing accountability structures; and coordinating funding and investments. Funding will be used to create a yearlong training institute for local government staff. This institute will support localities in the Richmond region as they utilize these seven strategies to create cross-sector policies, programs, and services that address local priorities and promote equity, health, and quality of life among children, families, and communities.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.

Leading Men in Richmond

The Literacy Lab has launched a Leading Men Fellowship in Richmond. Through this program, the organization recruits promising young men of color who have recently graduated from Richmond Public high schools but are not yet on the path to college. These men will serve as pre-K literacy tutors in high-need early childhood classrooms for a full school year. Fellows receive a living wage and transportation benefits and are eligible for a Higher Education Award upon completion of the program. To ensure that Fellows have the continuum of supports they need to become successful college students and teachers, the organization aims to partner with nonprofits and post-secondary institutions to create additional services that will prepare and connect Fellows to college and career opportunities.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.


Reimagining Richmond’s Mobile Home Parks

project:HOMES and the Manufactured Home Community Coalition of Virginia (MHCCV) propose the Reimagining Richmond’s Mobile Home Parks Project. Their goal is to produce small, thoughtfully designed homes to replace dilapidated or vacant mobile homes, destigmatizing one of the most affordable forms of housing. The high-quality, energy-efficient replacement home design will be extremely affordable for underserved families making 50% or less of the Area Median Income. Historically, manufactured homes do not appreciate as well as site-built homes. This program hopes to turn a depreciating asset into an appreciating asset through use of high-quality energy-saving materials and potentially incorporating solar panels. Funding will pilot this project, including land acquisition, construction plans, architectural consulting, energy-saving measures, and materials. The project will act as a catalyst for future development in Virginia by creating an environmentally friendly, extremely affordable mobile home model.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.

Civil Leadership in Juvenile through Participatory Budgeting

The RVA YouthPB project is dismantling youth prisons and the school-to-prison pipeline  by promoting the creation of community-based alternatives to youth incarceration. The partnership between RISE for Youth, the Virginia Civic Engagement Table and PauseLab works to address systems of injustice and has developed a program that trains youth advocates with a participatory budgeting approach. Their work aims to break down the barriers that separate youth from government officials and activities. These efforts will position youth as change agents in their communities and in our Commonwealth by giving them deep, meaningful experience in community engagement and defining them as community leaders.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.


2020 Vision for East End Communities and Families

Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and their partners — Peter Paul Development CenterGreater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now)Family Lifeline, and the Office of Mayor Levar Stoney — envision a program that will expand the Richmond Area Service Alliance, support a Community Liaison to link families’ experiences with human service systems for problem-solving, and actively identify barriers facing families engaged in the human service sector. With a trauma-informed lens, this program seeks to educate local and state leaders on how to collaboratively problem-solve potential solutions to common barriers to a families’ ability to thrive.

Photo courtesy of Robins Foundation.

The CIG will be awarded to one of these finalists on March 5, 2019.

Robins Foundation released the CIG Illuminating Perspectives report, which shows the impact of the innovation grant since it launched in 2014. In addition, a partnership framework was created, and the 2019 CIG cycle was extended. The expanded process allowed applicants more time to strengthen their proposals, prepare for the different stages of the CIG process, confirm partnership commitments and roles, and assess ways that advancing through the process might complement or amplify their existing work.

Robins Foundation was established in 1957 and serves to advance the greater Richmond community through strategic partnerships, collaborations and education, all of which will serve as a model for creating an environment of fairness and opportunity for everyone to thrive. To achieve this vision, Robins continues to conduct and support initiatives that encourage policy shifts, align with peers and nonprofits around community issues, and make investments that cultivate and support innovative solutions.

For more information about the Robins Foundation, the Robins family, or grant deadlines and giving focus go here.

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