Getting to Work

Two runners begin a race and finish with the same time. One has a hitch in their step, while the other ran smoothly. If you’re one for betting, you choose the hitch-step runner with the hope that they improve their form and can run faster. Richmond is the hitch-step runner who just heard back from the doctor that the hitch was due to a bone fracture. We’ve got the ability to be a champion, but we’ve got work to do on deep pains before we can race successfully again. 

This was a medium quality attempt at an analogy to explain that although Richmond is a long way from the finish line, our many assets provide a foundation for us to take the race by storm. But to truly capitalize on our moment in history, work needs to be done. A lot of work. And right now. 

The next 24 months will determine our next 20 years. 

Richmond Forward’s Role

Last year we dabbled in community engagement/organizing, solutions-based policy analysis, and communication (2016 recap). We dipped our toes into many different ponds, learned a lot, and met an awesome array of people working to better our community. 

In December 2016, we held an organizing meeting to discuss 2017 actions. About 20 engaged and passionate people met and discussed a wide range of interests, sometimes oppositional, including school testing, funding, facilities, questionnaires, vision-setting, advocate training, student organizing, and lobbying the General Assembly. We were really impressed with the passion in the room and the positive view they cast upon Richmond Forward as a movement to bring people together. We were also left with a lot to think about. 

With limited time, resources, and the desire to “not do for others what they can do for themselves,” I, Garet, took some time away to reassess and I apologize to those who attended for not following back up sooner. 

Reflecting back Richmond Forward’s past success, what was heard at the meeting, and after many conversations with many people, we have come to realize Richmond Forward’s time will be best spent helping to unlock the language of government (policies, regulations, and budgets) to serve others in advocating for change. 

This is the gap we are going to fill and here is how I propose we do it.

RPS Advocate Bootcamp

Following the Bike-Walk RVA Academy model, we’ll be developing an active, 60-minute training on key budget and policy plans to revitalize our crumbling school infrastructure, and action steps to achieving a solution. 

The goal will be to remove the fear of speaking out for students, parents, community members, teachers, and anyone else who wants change, by providing a base of knowledge. We will help you to know when is the best time to speak out, who to contact, and how to effectively get your message heard. 

What do we need from you? 

If you can get 20+ people in a room to talk RPS facilities, we’ll be there. 

We’re looking to partner with existing PTAs, neighborhood associations, business groups, service provides, students, and the faith community. We’re working to gather a crew to help with facilitation, childcare, food, transportation, and translators, so when we show up we’ve got you covered.  

Email us today ( if you can help!

Educational Materials and Communication

We’re going to create research papers that examine key policy and funding documents that will be essential to transform our schools and community, which include: 

  • The Education Compact
  • The Roanoke 40 
  • Facilities Task Force Option 5 
  • RPS Academic Improvement Plan
  • Community Schools and Transformative Partnerships 
  • City-wide Master Plan (coordinating school building in neighborhoods with jobs, housing, transportation, environment, and mental/physical health services) 
  • Long-range RPS Facilities Funding Plan 
  • Long-range RPS Operations Funding Plan 
  • Government Reform 
  • Office of Community Wealth Building and Education Compact Indicators 

What do we need from you? 

From these research documents, we’re looking to team with design and communication-minded people to develop accessible audio and visual materials and disseminate them like crazy.

Email us today ( if you can help! 

And Now, the Rest of the Story

Our organizing meeting held in December of 2016 packed a whole bunch of talented advocates into one space. A lot of needs were raised that Richmond Forward cannot meet. Although these solutions don’t exist today, we would like to signal boost these groups and suggest ideas to spark thoughts about future action. These include: 

The Micah Initiative starts an “Each One, Reach One” campaign to match a mentor to every RPS student. 

The School Board sets a vision of RPS as a first-choice system and explains how the Academic Improvement Plan, Facilities Plan, and Budget will work in tandem. 

Communities in Schools explores next-level partnerships to develop transformative community schools that bring much needed community services (e.g. healthcare) or specialized curriculum (e.g. Wythe High School of Business by Capital One) in RPS. 

Open High School teams with Art180 to develop a city-wide network of student organizing committees to advocate for change and expression. 

Support Our Schools works to join PTAs from Fox and Mumford with Chimborazo and Greene to broaden the network of teachers, parents, and students advocating for our schools. 

The Education Compact helps facilitate a community conversation on Option 5 of the Facilities Plan that ends in a 10-year roadmap for every school. 

The Mayor and City Council use the Master Plan process to drastically remake our Capital Improvements Plan to align needed investments community infrastructure (schools, transportation, utilities, economy, and environment).  


Thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you. Analysis on the Education Compact and Budget 2017 will be coming to your inbox soon!