Armstrong Priorities Freshman Academy
2209 E Grace Street
Richmond VA 23223-7066
Mission Statement
The purpose of the Armstrong Priorities Freshman Academy is to raise the on-time graduation rate of Armstrong High School to 90%.  It is our belief that our children should not be given up on, and that this school -- which has one of the highest concentrated poverty rates and therefore, lowest on-time graduation rates, in Virginia needs the systematic and concerted help of the community.  Our children need more educational resources than the state is prepared to give, and they need to be properly applied.
 
The Freshman Academy brings additional resources -- two special teachers for a 60-student cohort, a full-time program coordinator/dean, double math and English, after-school programs and trips, mentors and personal attention -- to children whose English and math test scores entering ninth grade are below grade level, in order to help them reach grade level by the end of the first year.  This is a three-year pilot program, begun in the 2015-16 school year, to see if additional resources properly applied can indeed make a difference for our children.  A second program coordinator serves as counselor to the upperclass graduates of the Academy.
    
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Rev Benjamin Campbell
Board Chair Rev Herbert Ponder
Board Chair Company Affiliation Mt. Tabor Baptist Church
Contact Information
Address 2209 E Grace Street
Richmond, VA 232237066
Telephone 804 301-1253
Fax 804 783-7957
E-mail
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2015
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $250,000.00
Projected Expenses $250,000.00
Additional Documents
First Year Academy Evaluation2016View
Statements
Mission
The purpose of the Armstrong Priorities Freshman Academy is to raise the on-time graduation rate of Armstrong High School to 90%.  It is our belief that our children should not be given up on, and that this school -- which has one of the highest concentrated poverty rates and therefore, lowest on-time graduation rates, in Virginia needs the systematic and concerted help of the community.  Our children need more educational resources than the state is prepared to give, and they need to be properly applied.
 
The Freshman Academy brings additional resources -- two special teachers for a 60-student cohort, a full-time program coordinator/dean, double math and English, after-school programs and trips, mentors and personal attention -- to children whose English and math test scores entering ninth grade are below grade level, in order to help them reach grade level by the end of the first year.  This is a three-year pilot program, begun in the 2015-16 school year, to see if additional resources properly applied can indeed make a difference for our children.  A second program coordinator serves as counselor to the upperclass graduates of the Academy.
    
Impact
In its First Pilot Year, the first cohort of the Armstrong Priorities Freshman Academy had the following measurable accomplishments:
  • 93% of Academy students passed the Math SOL test, compared to 30% of the control group.
  • Academy students attended school 13 more days, on average, than non-Academy students.
  • Academy students were 25% less likely to be suspended from school.
  • 51% of Academy students had a parent attend a parent-teacher conference, compared to 5% of non-Academy students.
 
Our goals for the Second Pilot Year include:
  • Revamping the Academy selection process to be certain that both Academy students and the control group meet our selection criteria -- that they be below grade level in Math and English -- and that the Academy cohort be slightly lower in test scores than the control group.  We know this will lower our numeric accomplishments, but it will also provide clearer and more helpful data.
  • Providing personal support on a continuing basis to upper class students who have graduated from the Freshman Academy.
  • Working to develop better classroom learning environments -- classroom management which supports learning -- and to provide deeper remedial attention to children who disrupt these environments.  This is a congenital problem of high poverty schools, as well as it is for the Academy, and we believe learning more effectively to address it is central to our task.
Needs
  1. Professional support for individual interventions for traumatized students who are acting out or unable to perform.
  2. Volunteer tutors in English, writing, reading, Math.
  3. Board members who are connected to the business, university, and/or philanthropic community; some who are experienced at fund-raising.
  4. Non-profit partners interested in developing and supporting second and third Academy cohorts at Armstrong.
  5. $320,000 to hire an Executive Director and continue the Academy into the 2018-19 School Year.
Background
In January 2012 leaders of 13 faith communities in Church Hill got together to seek a common effort to address the needs of the East End community.  They met twice a month for the next two years.  They decided to make their intervention through education, and met with all the public school principals in the East End.
 
Council member Cynthia Newbille and School Board chair Don Coleman were part of the work, as well as two former assistant Superintendents. Programs were underway at the elementary schools through the Micah Association and at MLK through the Boys and Girls Club and NextUp, but nothing was at Armstrong High School.  With the Principal, April Hawkins, they designed a pilot program at Armstrong, organized a non-profit, and began to seek funding.  Bon Secours was very helpful in the early stages.
 
Armstrong High School was almost certainly the first public African-American High School in the South, founded just after the Civil War.  Today it is more segregated racially than it was 50 years ago, and is now segregated by income as well.  It stands in the middle the sixth most concentrated area of public housing in the country -- where household income averages $9,600 a year -- and from which half its student body comes.  It has the highest concentration of poverty in metropolitan Richmond, and the lowest on-time graduation rate (76.6%) in the state.  About half its students come from households which have no car; 95% of them have no driver's license; 90% of the metro city's jobs are inaccessible to them because there is no public transportation.
 
The state of Virginia provides less per capita funding to the City of Richmond's low income schools than it does to the middle and upper middle income schools in the surrounding counties.  National best practices hold consistently that it costs 200% as much to provide proper educational opportunity to students in a 90% poverty, 90% minority school as it does to a middle income school.
 
 The Armstrong Priorities Freshman Academy was created as a Pilot to see if additional resources, properly applied, could make a significant difference for our children.  We provide both organizational and volunteer support for this effort. 
Areas of Service
Areas Served
Area
Richmond, City
Board Chair
Board Chair Rev Herbert Ponder
Company Affiliation Mt. Tabor Baptist Church
Term Jan 2017 to Dec 2017
Email hlpmtbc@aol.com
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Rev Sylvester Smith
Company Affiliation Good Shepherd Baptist Church
Term Jan 2017 to Dec 2017
Email ssmith2@vuu.edu
Board of Directors
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Mr. Buck Blanchard Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Ms. Olivia Brown St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Rev Benjamin Campbell St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Dr. Ronald Carey Richmond Public Schools, Retired
Rev Donald Coleman East End Fellowship
Ms. Bonnie Dowdy Holy Rosary Catholic Church
Rev Melvin Dowdy Holy Rosary Catholic Church
Mr. Devin Floyd Wells Fargo
Rev. Patricia Gould-Champ Faith Community Baptist Church
Rev. Marilyn Heckstall Pastor, Asbury United Methodist Church
Ms. Jane Hunnicutt St. John's Episcopal Church
Bishop Darryl Husband Mt. Olivet Church
Ms. Tamara Mines Principal, Armstrong High School
Dr. Cynthia Newbille Richmond City Council
Rev Herbert Ponder Mt. Tabor Baptist Church
Ms. Alexa Quinn St. Bridget's Catholic Church
Rev Sylvester Smith Good Shepherd Baptist Church
Rev. Andrew Terry St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Rev. Sylvester Turner Pilgrim Baptist Church
Mr. Albert Walker Bon Secours Health System
Rev. Janie Walker Richmond Hill
Dr. Dionne Ward Richmond Public Schools, retired
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 15
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 7
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 12
Female 10
Governance
Board Meeting Attendance % 60
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? No
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 50
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Rev Benjamin Campbell
Experience
Former CEO of
  • Richmond Urban Institute 
  • Home Base, Inc. 
  • Richmond Hill
  • Church of the Creator, Mechanicsville
 Former Communications Director, later Program Officer, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
 
Currently Program Chair, RPS Educational Foundation; Executive Committee, Richmond Slave Trail Commission; Co-chair, Metro Clergy for Rapid Transit.
 
Senior Staff
NameTitle
Ms. Jessica Anderson Program Coordinator
Staff
Full Time Staff 1
Part Time Staff 1
Volunteers 100
Retention Rate 100
Plans
Organization has a Strategic Plan?
Programs
Description
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $250,000.00
Projected Expenses $250,000.00
Form 990s
Audit Documents
Budget2017
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit Application 1/2017View
Comments
Organization Comments

The finances of Armstrong priorities were an integral part of the budget of Richmond Hill, Inc., until December 31, 2016. Thus, 2017 will be the first year in which it will function with its own audited financial statement and fully completed form 990. All finances of Richmond Hill, Inc., are fully audited.