We provide a range of support services to homeless high school and college students in Richmond, Virgina.
Change the World RVA began in December 2011, when Bon Air United Methodist Church (BAUMC) and Westover Hills United Methodist Church (WHUMC) independently donated funds to a Richmond Public School social worker, Alia Butler Adlich, for Christmas gifts for homeless high school students and their families. The two churches joined together in June to host a graduation party for homeless seniors from Armstrong, Huguenot and George Wythe High Schools in Richmond. It occurred to us afterwards that it would have been even better had we known the students during their entire senior year instead of meeting them on the day of the party. This fostered the idea of an after school program for high school students. During that summer, we offered a “College Prep 101” course to eight of those graduates. This program became the foundation for the Change the World RVA curriculum that offered today.
Unlike most programs, we stick with our students through their college years. We have a textbook scholarship fund to pay for all of our students' textbooks. We buy our students laptops when they move into their dorms, and we help them gather all the items they need for their dorms (bedding, etc.). Our volunteers drive them to college, send care packages and provide host homes during breaks. Without this support, a small bump in the road (e.g., the inability to pay for books or fees, a failed midterm, a bad roommate) could derail these students from their dreams. Our students rarely have access to a support system or safety net. Most do not even have a place to stay during school breaks and holidays. We provide logistical, emotional, academic, and financial support to help these students succeed in college.
Homeless youth also have few resources when it comes to clothing. We have a clothing closet stocked with donations, including lost-and-found items from a private school in Richmond. Often our students need clothing that is not available in our closet, such as non-skid work shoes, uniforms for work, coats, athletic shoes, and professional clothing for internships and jobs. We do our best to address these needs; we also are a referring agency to Dress for Success. Our students run the clothing closet, sorting donations, hanging up clothing, and donating inappropriate clothing to Goodwill.
Our program has been successful because we have been flexible and responsive to student needs as they arise. We are intentional about not becoming a “typical social service program.” We care deeply for our students as individuals. They are never a case number or a file in our drawer. The key to our success has been fostering relationships between each student and their own network of caring adults. We teach them to network, to constantly work to form relationships with people who will be positive, supportive individuals in their lives. We have fun. We create a feeling of family in everything we do. We talk a lot with our students that our program is not a charity, that we expect each student to succeed and “pay it forward.” We succeed, in large part, because we use a positive, strengths-based approach to education and individual growth.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Copyright © 2014 The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia7501 Boulders View Drive, Richmond, VA 23225804-330-7400 | www.tcfrichmond.org