December 2014 - In This Issue:
Check out our new website to take a closer look at what we have been working on and to stay abreast of what we have in the pipeline!
Washington Post

Washington Post Storyline Series


In an ongoing Storyline series entitled Richmond: the legacy of poverty, Washington Post reporter Tina Griego has been telling the story of the City's, "ambitious plan to combat poverty and confront its past" through the lens of participants in the City's Center for Workforce Innovation. In the series, Griego addresses the current realities of housing, education, transportation, economic development and jobs in the city while reporting on the work of the Office of Community Wealth Building to address those issues.  Read the series



$17.5 Million Federal Preschool Expansion Grant Awarded to Virginia

On December 10, 2014, Virginia was awarded a $17.5 Million Preschool Expansion Grant as part of $1 billion package of early childhood education grants. What a great win for Richmond and the Commonwealth! 



More exciting developments to come in the next few months!

  • Early Childhood Task Force Recommendations
  • Promise Scholarship Task Force Recommendations
  • Social Enterprise Development for Richmond
  • Public Housing Initiatives


Like us on Facebook   

Follow us on Twitter     

As the culmination of an effort that began with the Mayor's Anti-Poverty Commission and continued with the recommendations from the Maggie L. Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty, this past spring Mayor Dwight C. Jones established the Mayor's Office of Community Wealth Building to coordinate and lead the City's comprehensive poverty reduction and community wealth building initiative.


The Office, under the direction of Dr. Thad Williamson, is housed within the Office of the Deputy CAO for Human Services. The Office is working closely with staff in Human Services, Economic & Community Development, and throughout City government to implement the recommendations of the Maggie L. Walker Initiative. We also work with key partners outside of City government, including Richmond Public Schools, Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority, GRTC, and other nonprofit, educational, and business entities.


Our Office has set a bold target: to implement an integrated set of strategies to expand economic opportunity and improve quality-of-life for the 26% of City residents in poverty. Our plan encompasses five major focal points: education, workforce development, targeted economic development, housing and public transportation. These are big goals, and to succeed we will need the active cooperation and participation of the entire community.


Each month we will provide updates on our progress, upcoming events and ways that you can get involved.  We are excited to report that our office has grown, our partnerships have increased, and meaningful work is underway. 

Back to the Top

Expansion of the Center for Workforce Innovation is under way. This expansion will improve the way in which residents are connected to local employers and increase the training and support available to participants striving to obtain and sustain employment in well-paying, sustainable occupations. Beginning this year, the Center will also provide wrap-around holistic support services to a targeted number of participants who are heads of household, to identify and overcome barriers to success and address the comprehensive needs of participating households. Learn More

Back to the Top

Bus Rapid Transit is Coming to Richmond!


Development of a regional public transportation system was one of the major recommendations of the Mayor's Anti-Poverty Commission. This fall Richmond was awarded a $24.9 million TIGER grant to take a major step forward in realizing that vision, the development of the region's first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT system). The Broad Street BRT Line will provide service from Willow Lawn to Rocketts Landing, with 14 station stops and over three miles of dedicated travel lanes. Running times are estimated to be 14 minutes faster than current transit operations along Broad Street from Willow Lawn to downtown and ridership is estimated at 3,300 boardings per day. 


As part of the Maggie L. Walker Initiative, the City has provided a local match to state and federal dollars for the preliminary engineering study of the BRT project now being undertaken by GRTC, and is also funding a needed study of the route changes that will result from the BRT system to assure ease of use and maximize access to employment for BRT riders. Learn More


Back to the top


The City has become a full partner in the Middle School Renaissance 2020 program, a major public-private initiative hosted at The Community Foundation. MSR 2020 aims to provide high-quality out-of-school time activities and programming at all City middle schools by 2020. The program currently is operational at Henderson and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle Schools. Learn More

Back to the top
Dr. Risha Berry, Dr. Thad Williamson, Christina Mastroianni, MPA, DCAO Debra D. Gardner 


The Office of Community Wealth Building has grown! 


On October 20 Risha Berry, PhD joined the office as project management analyst. Dr. Berry earned her doctorate in Urban Services Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2014 and most recently served as program manager in the VCU Office of Continuing and Professional Education. She has also worked with VCU's EduLead Partnership, Henrico County Public Schools Department of Nontraditional Programs, Oakland (CA) Unified School District, and the City of Petersburg, among other positions. In addition to program management experience, Dr. Berry has published peer-reviewed research and also successfully written numerous program grants.  


Christina Mastroianni join the Office of Community Wealth Building on November 3 as administrative project analyst. Mastroianni obtained a Master's in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She has served as executive director of the Philadelphia CareerLink Consortium, and later started a very successful neighborhood arts organization in Philadelphia. Since coming to Richmond with her family a few years ago, she has served as president of the Bellevue Elementary School PTA and performed work for the United Way. She has also worked as a grant writing consultant.  


We are fortunate to be able to add these new staff members with this variety and depth of skills and experience to our team in the Office of Community Wealth Building.


In addition, the Office welcomed Kelly Evans, who is the first supervisor of the Housing Advocates/Community Navigator program which operates in the six public housing communities. She brings deep knowledge of Richmond and its public housing communities to this important position. Look for a more detailed report on progress of the Community Navigator program in future issues of this newsletter. 

Back to the top


For more information about the Office of Community Wealth Building, click here. To speak to someone from our staff, please call 804-646-1300. To find out how you can get involved contact us at: or call us at 804-646-1300. 


Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter